Editorial: Don't get blown away

Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky, Wilfred.

They could all be unwanted guests this year. They are the names of hurricanes for the 2014 season, and as of June 1, hurricane season has officially arrived. With it is the need for all of us to be prepared.

This year, the National Hurricane Center is predicting the Atlantic region will see between eight and 13 named storms, three to six of those rising to the level of hurricanes, with one or two of those considered “major.” As Wiltonians know all too well, all it takes is one big storm to cause weeks of devastation.

But knowing the risks — possible flooding, road or bridge closures, wind damage, and power outages — is a good thing. It means it’s possible to prepare.

The state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection recommends three simple steps residents can take right now: Make a plan, put together an emergency kit, and stay informed.

A family emergency plan includes:

  • Identify an out-of-town contact (it’s often easier to make long distance calls than local ones during a storm).
  • Make sure everyone in the family can call or text by having access to a cell phone or a pre-paid phone card.
  • Use the “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) designation on cell phone contacts for easy look-up by emergency personnel.

When making an emergency kit, try to think about what you would need most if you had no power and/or if you were unable to leave your home for a few days. At minimum, emergency kits should include:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • A manual can opener for food
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio
  • Cell phone with charger, inverter or solar charger
  • Necessary medications and medical equipment with back-up power source if needed
  • Don’t forget the pets. Be sure to have food and water, a leash and collar with ID tags and make plans with neighbors and friends to pet-sit if necessary.

The best advice is to stay informed. Sign up for statewide emergency alerts at ct.gov/ctalert and for Code Red at wiltonct.org. Sign up for Breaking News at WiltonBulletin.com. Visit ct.gov/hurricane or ready.gov for more.