MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- With the June 1st start of hurricane season less than three months away, and work still being done to recover from the 2005 season, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Alabama Emergency Management Agency urges Alabamians to prepare early for the upcoming hurricane season.
While all Alabamians should have a plan for when natural disasters strike, those who live in mobile homes and travel trailers should be particularly alert to approaching tropical storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes. According to the 2000 census, over 300,000 families live in Alabama mobile homes, making the need for disaster preparedness a priority. Currently, FEMA is temporarily housing more than 6,400 people in travel trailers throughout the state.
Disaster preparedness begins with each family and household having a plan. FEMA recommends that you have a ready-to-go emergency kit that will allow you to survive unaided for three days. A kit should include the following:
- First aid kit (including prescription medicines)
- Food and water for up to 72 hours
- Extra clothing and blankets
- Flashlights and extra batteries
The following supplies are recommended:
- NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- A camp stove with extra fuel
- Foldable ladders for second-story escape in a fire
- Photocopies of credit and identification cards
Food and Water
In addition to an emergency kit, families should be prepared with up to three days of food and water for each member. Basic foods, like canned foods, dry foods, and other non-perishable items are best to have because if electricity goes out, they will still be edible. Here are some tips:
- Keep foods on hand that everyone in your family will like to eat
- Avoid foods that are high in fat and protein
- Don't stock salty foods, since they will make you thirsty
The average person requires two quarts of drinking water per day. Some individuals, like children or nursing mothers, may require more. A gallon per day for each person in your family is the recommended amount, say American Red Cross officials. If you are running low on water, don't ration. To lessen the amount you need, reduce your activity.
If water is unavailable from household sources, water from rain, streams or rivers, and natural springs can be used. However, water from any outdoor source must first be purified before it can be used for potable or hygienic purposes. Boiling, disinfecting (by means of adding 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water) and distillation are the three recommended methods of purification.
Be Ready to Evacuate
Mobile homes and travel trailers are particularly vulnerable to severe weather because of their instability. Since hurricanes can trigger quickly forming tornadoes, residents should be prepared to leave at a moments notice.
A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit. When a tornado warning is issued, take shelter in a building with a strong foundation. If shelter is not available, lie in ditch or low-lying area a safe distance away from the unit. Never stay inside a mobile home or travel trailer if a tornado warning has been issued.
Evacuation is a real possibility that your family might face if a natural disaster threatens your home. Every family should have an emergency plan that outlines what to do, how to communicate with family members when evacuating, and how the family should re-connect in case they get separated.
- Know the location and best route for evacuation out of the area
- Practice your emergency evacuation plan with your family