Health Department encourages public to remain prepared for hurricanes

Published 3:03 pm Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hurricane Gustav has passed, but we are still in the middle of what appears to be a very active hurricane season. Here is some information about hurricane safety courtesy of The Alabama Department of Public Health.

The ADPH recommends all families take health and safety precautions in the event of a hurricane. As part of its emergency preparedness campaign Get 10, the department is encouraging all Alabamians to create an emergency supply kit containing 10 essential items that can help them survive an emergency.

“Creating this emergency supply kit is easy, but it can prove to be lifesaving,” said State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson. “These 10 items can be helpful whether a family needs to evacuate or shelter-in-place.”

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Get 10 suggests families pack the following essential items:

n Water – at least one gallon per person per day for three days, including pets

n Non-perishable food – a two-week supply for each person, including pets

n Can opener – a manual one that can be used if there is no electricity

n Medications – include both prescription and non-prescription medications

n First aid kit – this kit should include antiseptic, gloves, bandages, masks and a thermometer

n Flashlight – remember to include extra batteries

n Battery-powered radio – consider buying a radio with a weather alert feature

n Extra clothing, socks and shoes – pack rain gear and outerwear for inclement weather

n Personal care items – include cleaning and hygiene items

n Important documents – keep electronic copies of these as well on a flash drive/memory stick.

Residents should take the following additional precautions should a hurricane impact the state:

n Power outages associated with a hurricane can cause concerns about the safety of frozen and refrigerated foods. The Alabama Department of Public Health advises that as a general rule, a full upright or chest freezer will keep foods frozen for about two days without power. A partially full freezer will keep foods frozen for about one day. This time may be extended by keeping the door shut. A refrigerator will keep foods cool for four to six hours if the door is kept shut as much as possible. Any thawed foods that have been at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. Foods still containing ice crystals can be refrozen, although the quality of the food may decrease. Foods that have thawed to refrigerator temperatures (that is, no more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit) can also be cooked and then refrozen.

n The public should never use generators, grills, camp stoves or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, basement, garage or camper—or even outside near an open window. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death if breathed.

n If power lines are lying on the ground or dangling near the ground, do not touch the lines. Notify your utility company as soon as possible that lines have been damaged, or that the power lines are down, but do not attempt to move or repair the power lines.

n Avoid driving through standing water if downed power lines are in the water. If a power line falls across your car while you are driving, continue to drive away from the line. If the engine stalls, do not turn off the ignition. Stay in your car and wait for emergency personnel. Do not allow anyone other than emergency personnel to approach your vehicle.

For more information on Get 10 and hurricane safety, please visit the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Web site at