Editorial: 21 reasons not to wait

Alberto, Beryl, Chris, Debby, Ernesto, Florence, Gordon, Helene, Isaac, Joyce, Kirk, Leslie, Michael, Nadine, Oscar, Patty, Rafael, Sandy, Tony, Valerie and William: 21 names not on anyone’s party list this year. They are 2012’s potential tropical storms and hurricanes.

They are 21 reasons not to wait until the last minute to prepare for a natural disaster. Any one of them could flatten us the same way Irene did last year.

The first nine have come and gone — with Chris and Ernesto full-blown hurricanes — but that leaves 12 potential threats, not to mention any nor’easters we might have to face this winter. (Isaac, which was predicted as a category one or two storm when it was to hit land overnight Tuesday, bore down on the Gulf and prompted calls for evacuating as many as 50,000 people in the Delta region, but it is not expected to have a significant impact later up here.)

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has said the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be above average with 12 to 17 named storms, of which five to eight could make it to hurricane status. The number of storms already seen this year is just one reason why. Wind patterns and warmer-than-average ocean temperatures are also factors.

While they can be catastrophic, hurricanes and nor’easters are not surprises. They are often predicted days in advance. Forewarned is forearmed, and now is the time to prepare for power outages that are all but inevitable. Some tips from ready.gov:

•Build an emergency kit of food, water and supplies to last three to five days without power;

•Make a family communications plan of how you will contact one another and how you will all get to a safe place.

•If you need to leave your home, figure out where you would go and how you would get there.

•Check to see if your trees and shrubs are trimmed and wind-resistant.

•Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.

•Reinforce garage doors. If wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.

•Have a place to bring in outdoor furniture and anything else not tied down.

•If you have been thinking about buying a generator, do it now. They won’t be available when a storm hits. The same is true for a sump pump.

•When building your emergency kit, consider if you have special needs such as medications, oxygen, etc. Plan to have an ample supply on hand. How about a car charger for your cell phone?

•If your home is on a well, plan to keep a big supply of water in old milk jugs. You can keep your toilets flushing by pouring water into the tank. Start collecting the jugs now, or go out and buy a couple of five-gallon jugs now.

•If you have a generator make sure it works now. You won’t get repair service at the height of a storm.

Don’t rely on emergency services to bail you out. The police and fire departments will be busy with “life safety” issues such as putting out flaming wires, keeping streets clear and responding to true emergencies. A flooded basement is not a true emergency.

While the town plans to do a better job communicating with residents and CL&P promises better performance in the future, some things will not change. When a tree comes down and takes a utility pole with it, it will still take time to put it all back together.

It will be easier on everyone if everyone is properly prepared.