Editorial: Most unwanted

Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Joaquin, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, Wanda.
No one wants these characters knocking on their door this year. They are the names of hurricanes for the 2015 season, and as of June 1, hurricane season has officially arrived. With it is the need for all of us to be prepared.
Here in Connecticut we didn’t often think about hurricanes. But “superstorms” like Irene and Sandy in 2011 and 2012 changed that and showed us both the power of Mother Nature and the power of preparation.
This year, the National Hurricane Center is predicting the Atlantic region will see between six and 11 named storms, three to six of those rising to the level of hurricanes, with one or two of those considered “major.” But as Wiltonians know all too well, all it takes is one big storm to cause major devastation.
But knowing the risks — the potential for flooding, road or bridge closures, wind damage, and especially 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;

  • First aid kit;

  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;

  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;

  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both;

  • Local maps;

  • 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 enough food and water, a leash and collar with ID tags; learn what shelters will take pets 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 local ones at wiltonct.gov (Sign up for Code Red) and at WiltonBulletin.com (Sign up for Breaking News). Visit ct.gov/hurricane or ready.gov for more.