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Surviving the Imperfect Storm

If you live in a storm-prone area, you should be used by now on what to do, where to go and what to have to be prepared for bad weather. However, if you're not used to getting pummeled by high winds and hard rain, you probably don't have an idea how best to face a storm situation.

For starters, storms do not just come without a warning. Weather stations monitor the atmosphere day in and day out. If a storm is possible, they will issue two types of warnings:

Storm watch Ė is issued when there is a possible storm in your area. You probably will be experiencing a dark, cloudy sky, an unusually windy day and some rain. The storm may or may not come, but this is the time to keep tuned to your local radio for news and updates.

Storm warning Ė is issued when a storm is headed toward your area. Try to stay indoors as much as possible. Or if residents are advised to evacuate to a safer place, go as early as you can. Donít wait until the last minute to leave your house. By that time, the streets could be flooded and traffic is bad. You donít want to be caught in your car in bad weather.

Blizzard Ė usually occurs in winter and means heavy snow, strong winds and wind chill. When a warning is issued, avoid traveling as much as possible and stay indoors. There is no use exposing yourself outdoors where you could get trapped in traffic or in locations where you will be difficult to reach or worse, find.

For all our technology, no one can stop a storm from coming. The only way to survive it is to be prepared to face the emergency. Things donít always go bad during storms, but weather is unpredictable and anything can happen. To help you prepare for a storm emergency, here are a few tips:

Dress up.
Wear enough clothes to keep yourself warm. Heat may not be available in your house so get extra coats and blankets to maintain your body temperature sufficiently. Have your mittens, gloves, hats, socks and boots ready as well.

Have food ready.
Emergency provisions are a must during storm emergencies. Make sure you stock on no-cook food, canned food, some candy and other non-perishable items. And don't forget can openers, scissors or utensils. If the storm gets too bad and the streets are flooded, you will have a difficulty going out to the grocery shops. Besides, stores might be closed.

Keep bottles of water handy. Clean water may be hard to come by during really bad conditions and the worst thing you can do is suffer from dehydration because you were not prepared. Keep a supply of at least one gallon for every person per day that will last for 3 to 4 days.

Fill the tub.
You'll need more water for washing and flushing the toilets. When the power is out, your water pump won't operate, so best fill your bath tub, water containers and pails with water. If you have small children in the house, take precautions by covering deep containers and keeping children away from the bathroom unless necessary.

Emergency kit
Have a medical or first kit ready and make sure it's freshly-stocked. It should contain disinfectants, gauzes, cotton balls, Q-tips, medicated plasters and necessary medicines. It's also a good idea to have another kit in your car.

If anyone in your family is under special medication, make sure you have enough supplies to last until after the storm is over and drug stores are open.

Lights off
Expect power outages during storm emergencies. You won't have any electricity, so stock on candles, flashlights and emergency lights. Have extra fresh batteries and matches in case you run out.

If you can't turn on the TV, have a battery-powered radio tuned in to a station that covers your area. Media will monitor the storm and will keep you updated.

You might need hot water during the period when power is not yet available, so keep a small tank of gas around just in case. Your outdoor gas grill will do nicely.

Get an alternate shelter.
If you think your house will suffer considerably, it's a good idea to consider an alternate shelter. It could be an evacuation center or another house or building that is safer. Make sure you have enough gas in your tank in case you need to get out of the house and move someplace. Keep to a higher ground where you have better chances of being safe and dry.

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