Living in Louisiana has its pros and cons. Some of the pros are amazing food, weather and parades for everything under the sun. However, there are several cons including weather-related disasters. According to the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Guide, we are geographically prone to 11 hazards including hail storms, flooding, hurricanes and levee failure. If you have lived here long enough, you have more than likely experienced at least one form of hazard. Now that we are in the peak of hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 until November 30, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions: Are you and your loved ones prepared in case of an emergency? Have you discussed what will happen in the event of a mandatory evacuation? Do you know what you will do with your pets? Keep reading for tips and suggestions on how to prepare and plan for an emergency.
Top Evacuation Tips
• Refill prescriptions so that you always have a seven day supply.
• Build up your emergency funds with at least one week’s worth of expenses such as fuel, food and shelter.
• Talk with out-of-town family members and friends at the start of hurricane season. Ask if it will be okay to stay with them in the event of an evacuation.
• Have copies of important documents on hand including tax information, copies of birth certificates, driver’s licenses, vehicle registration and insurance.
• Check your parish websites in advance for information on how to secure sandbags and evacuation routes.
• Listen to local officials and be ready to evacuate!
Sheltering in Place
Not all weather-related incidents will call for an out-of-town evacuation. For instance, tropical storms may only require a day or two indoors. Even so, one must still be prepared in case the situation escalates. It is recommended that you have at least three days’ worth of food, particularly non-perishables like canned vegetables, fruits, crackers and protein bars, as well as plenty of bottled water. If you prepare an extra “emergency” inventory it will ensure two things: 1) You won’t get stuck at home without essentials, and 2) You won’t find yourself scrambling to buy items at the last minute only to realize that there is no more bottled water or canned milk. You will also want to make sure that you are fully stocked on other items such as batteries, flashlights, personal hygiene items and baby supplies.
Now that you have your supplies together, what will you do to pass the time? If you have kids, how will you keep them entertained for a few days without power? When I was growing up, my brother and I looked forward to “hurricane days.” Not knowing the possible severity of the situations, we enjoyed staying inside and building forts in the middle of the living room. We would spend hours playing and napping! Keep books and coloring materials at the ready, and encourage them to tell stories or act out mini-plays to keep them from becoming bored and restless. The fun isn’t limited to children – adults can find ways to find some creative ways of engaging as well. If you’re a family that likes to play games, keep a pack of UNO cards or Scattegories handy in your preassembled emergency kit.
Pets & Evacuation
Our furry family members are usually at the bottom of the to-do list when it comes to disaster planning. Some may think all they have to do is grab their pet and a couple days’ worth of food, and they will be fine. But what if the hotel you’re staying at doesn’t take pets? What if your pet is on certain medications? This hurricane season, many agencies are urging pet owners to create an evacuation plan for their pets. Just like us, they have important papers, medications and accessories that can often be left behind in the rush to evacuate. The Louisiana SPCA recommends that the supplies you gather should be able to fully provide for all of your pet’s needs for at least three days. One of the most important things you can do is make sure your pet’s vaccinations are current. If you plan to board your pet, all boarding facilities and veterinarian offices require proof of immunization before accepting animals. You do not want to get to your safe place and be told that your pet cannot stay.
“The Louisiana SPCA prepares year-round for potential hurricane evacuations of both shelter animals and owned animals from around the City,” said Louisiana SPCA CEO, Ana Zorrilla.
Below are a few important details to remember when planning for your pet:
• Call hotels within your evacuation area and ask about their pet policy. You can also check bringfido.com, which has a listing of pet-friendly hotel accommodations.
• Create a checklist! Have items like food, puppy pads or a mobile litter box, toys and extra medications on the list. Make sure to keep the list with your current evacuation plans.
• Update your pet’s ID tags if needed. “Talk to your veterinarian about permanent identification such as microchipping,” said Alicia Haefele of the Louisiana SPCA.
• When packing your evacuation bag, make sure to pack for your pet as well!
Securing and Retrofitting Your Home
Being residents of a coastal region means we may experience high winds due to bad weather. If you live in an older home, it may not be able to withstand high winds. The best way to protect your home against damaging winds is to hurricane-proof it. This includes strengthening your exterior so no large tears or openings will occur. The National Hurricane Center provides several great tips on how to secure your home:
• Retrofitting your roof. The type of roof you have will determine how this will be done. If you have a gabled roof, you’ll want to strengthen the gabled end walls. If you have a shingled roof, you will want to check to make sure the adhesives have attached properly. For either situation, you can call on a professional to make sure this is done correctly and up to safety standards.
• Install impact shutters. These will protect doors and windows from flying objects.
• Install hurricane straps. Hurricane straps will ensure that your roof and walls are properly connected.
• Brace your garage doors. Your local building supplier or garage-door retailer may have a retrofit kit that will be good for securing your doors.
This hurricane season, make sure to retrofit your home to protect it against wind damage.
Top Places League Members Evacuate to:
• Birmingham, Ala.
“We like to evacuate to Birmingham! It’s beautiful out there and a very scenic respite!” – Active Tara Quin-Hagmann
“We ended up in Birmingham last time and had a great time – nice zoo and a fantastic children’s museum. Plus, great shopping and restaurants. It made us think we were on vacation instead of escaping a storm!” – Active Shannon Stover Zink
• Houston, Texas
“Houston to ice skate at the Galleria was always one of my favorites as a child!” – Active Elexa Dixon
• Other Areas
“Lake Bruin, La. We have a house there in northeast Louisiana.” – Sustainer Margaret Hines Godfrey
“Our family has a cabin outside of Picayune.” – Sustainer Katie Aromi Brandner
Stuck inside for a storm?
Get creative at your hurricane party with these JLNO recipes from our archived cookbooks!
Tootsie’s Elvis Sandwich
Photo by Lea Witkowski-Purl
• 2 tablespoons smooth or crunchy peanut butter
• 2 slices of whole wheat bread
• 1 banana sliced
• 1 teaspoon of honey
Spread the peanut butter over one slice of bread. Layer the banana slices over the peanut butter and drizzle with the honey. Top with the remaining slice of bread. Cut as desired.
Perfect recipe for young children to recreate!
Yield: 1 Serving
Photo by Lea Witkowski-Purl
• 4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, rind removed
• Chopped walnuts or chopped fresh rosemary for garnish
Grate the cheese into a bowl. Spoon six evenly spaced tablespoons of cheese onto a nonstick baking sheet. Pat each mound into a three inch round. Garnish with a few chopped walnuts or rosemary. Bake at 400 degrees for three minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Remove the chips immediately to a wire rack to cool. Let the baking sheet cool before next batch and repeat with remaining cheese.
Store the chips in an airtight container for up to one week.