As of Monday morning, Hurricane Dorian was continuing to batter parts of the Bahamas with its category 4 winds while already turning its sights toward Florida. Hurricane warnings were issued throughout Florida days ago, but as the massive storm moves toward the mainland U.S., communities throughOUT Georgia and the Carolinas have already been issued evacuation orders. Dorian’s 155-mile per hour winds and immense amounts of rainfall may prove devastating to coastal communities in America’s southwest, making the coming week an actual exercise in survival for many.

If you find yourself in the storm’s path, there are a number of things you can do to mitigate the risks you and your family are facing. First and foremost, if your community is given an order to evacuate, evacuate. Many people choose to remain in their homes after an evacuation order, intent on defending their property or riding out the storm. This isn’t just dangerous for those who choose to remain behind, it becomes a real threat for rescue workers tasked with finding stranded families during the storm.

If you have not been given an evacuation order, here’s where to start getting ready for Hurricane Dorian:

When preparing for a potential disaster, it’s important to let your unique experiences and needs dictate a great deal of your work. If you or members of your family rely on a specific medication, for example, you should ensure you have a plentiful supply in the event a long term power outage prevents you from getting more. If your experience dictates that your basement is prone to flooding, on the other hand, you may want to devote more time and effort to preventing that damage. However, there are some facets of storm preparation that can be seen as general, or fairly universal — and you can use suggestions provided by government agencies like FEMA and Ready.gov to create a baseline for your own more specialized check lists to work through as you prepare for Dorian’s arrival.

Preparing an Emergency Kit

Ready.gov recommends you assemble an emergency kit with the following essential supplies:

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  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

What to Do as the Storm Approaches

Once you’ve assembled your kit (and any added supplies that are unique to your situation), FEMA goes on to recommend that you do the following before Hurricane Dorian makes landfall in your area:

  • Know your surroundings.
  • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
  • Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
  • Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
  • Make plans to secure your property.
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
  • Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Install a generator for emergencies.
  • If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
  • Consider building a safe room.

Surviving the Storm Once it Hits

Finally, Ready.gov offers some advice specific to surviving the worst of the hurricane. If you find yourself under the full brunt of Hurricane Dorian, they recommend that you do the following:

  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Do not drive around barricades.
  • If sheltering during high winds, go to a FEMA safe room, ICC 500 storm shelter, or a small, interior, windowless room or hallway on the lowest floor that is not subject to flooding.
  • If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water.
  • Listen for current emergency information and instructions.
  • Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery outdoors ONLY and away from windows.
  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.