Hurricane season is almost here… Are you ready?

Crewmembers of Coast Guard Station Atlantic City board the station's windows in preparation for Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The station's crew relocated in preparation to respond to emergencies after the storm passed. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Crewmembers of Coast Guard Station Atlantic City board the station's windows in preparation for Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The station's crew relocated in preparation to respond to emergencies after the storm passed. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

While the Atlantic hurricane season doesn’t officially start until June 1, scientists at the Climate Prediction Center are predicting moderate chances for a tropical depression or a storm to form in the Caribbean during the next two weeks. The chances of an early storm are a perfect reminder to start disaster preparations in your home and local community.

When it comes to hurricane response and preparedness the Coast Guard works closely with local, state and federal agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But there is also another important member of our hurricane preparedness team; that important member is you!

Storm flags fly at Coast Guard Station Chatham to warn the general public of dangerous storm conditions associated with Hurricane Irene in August 2011.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Jeff Hall.

Storm flags fly at Coast Guard Station Chatham to warn the general public of dangerous storm conditions associated with Hurricane Irene in August 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Jeff Hall.

The most valuable thing you can do is to stay informed and be prepared. If you are just starting out in learning about disaster preparedness, take a look at Ready.gov.

Some of their top tips include:

• Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact so family members have a single point of contact.
• Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
• Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.
• Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine places to meet and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate. Also, don’t forget to make a plan for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
• Use a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its battery every 6 months, as you do with your smoke detectors.
• Check your insurance coverage – flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance. A great resource is the National Flood Insurance Program.

Click the above graphic to be taken to the "Pledge to Prepare."

Click the above graphic to be taken to the "Pledge to Prepare."

With your family and community prepared, don’t forget about getting information on the weather itself! Some of the most up-to-date information on hurricanes comes from NOAA. NOAA’S National Hurricane Center helps you follow storms, determine when and where they will make landfall and will even send you alerts and warnings if you’re in harm’s way.

Also, both NOAA and FEMA offer social media tools allowing you to access critical information before, during and after a hurricane or storm. So don’t forget to plug in and download these important apps!

Lastly, friends, neighbors and colleagues are more likely to prepare for disasters when they see those around them prepare, so inspire them to act by being an example yourself. The first step you can take is to “Pledge to Prepare.” The resources you will receive once doing so provide tools for making your family and community, safer, more resilient and better prepared.

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