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Hurricane awareness important

Features Editor

Gov. Don Siegelman has proclaimed May 19-25, 2002, Hurricane Awareness Week in Alabama. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through the end of November.

Hurricane Frederic in 1979 and Hurricane Opal in 1995 caused tremendous damage in Alabama.

Hurricanes Georges and Danny are also reminders of how vulnerable people are to hurricanes in Alabama and the need for preparedness, said Larry Davis, director of the Pike County Emergency Management Agency.

"These storms cost people their lives and cause billions of dollars in property damage," he said. "Alabama faces the threat of being directly or indirectly affected by hurricanes each year and the powerful storms can disrupt so many lives in so many ways."

Davis said he urges all Pike Countians to take time this week to make preparations to safeguard themselves, their families and their property in the event of a hurricane.

"Hurricanes can be dangerous killers," Davis said. "Learning the hurricane warning messages and planning ahead can reduce the chances of injury of major property damage."

Because Pike County has been affected by strong winds from hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast, it is important for everyone to realize that hurricanes are a threat to inland communities.

"Every household should have disaster supplies on hand," Davis said. "These include a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-operated radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit and manual, emergency food and water, non-electric can opener, essential medicines, cash and credit cards and sturdy shoes."

Davis said all family members should know how to respond after a hurricane.

"Teach family members how and when to turn off the gas, electricity and water," he said. "Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, the police or the fire department. They should also know which radio station to dial for emergency information."

Water can be a valuable resource during and after a hurricane.

Davis said to store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles and cooking utensils. And, to save-guard food, turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and open only when necessary.

During a hurricane warning, Davis said to listen carefully to a battery-operated radio or television for official instructions.

"If you are in a mobile home, check tiedowns and evacuate immediately," he said.

Valuables and personal papers should be stored in waterproof containers and placed on the highest level in the house.

"If you’re at home, stay inside, away from windows and glass doors," Davis said. "Avoid open flames like candles and kerosene lamps as a source of light. If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce the power surge when electricity is restored."

If at work or at school, follow the procedures that are in place there.

"The best way to protect yourself and your family during a hurricane is to be prepared before it hits," Davis said. "Fortunately, we are able to be warned when hurricanes are forming and that has helped save many lives. This week, come up with a plan for your family if a hurricane brings threatening weather conditions to our area."