Hurricane Ian: If you’re in Florida, here is what you need to do now

The National Hurricane Center is warning residents of Florida that Hurricane Ian is likely to be a major hurricane as it nears the state this week.

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Ian, the NHC said, is likely to become a major hurricane, a hurricane that is a Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, as it moves in the very warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

State and federal emergency management agencies are advising those living in coastal areas to finalize preparations for a probable landfall in Florida.

If you are in Florida, here are some preparations you should complete as soon as possible in advance of Ian.

Basic preparedness tips (Finish these by Monday)

1. Know how to get out. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take. Use this link to get evacuation route information for your county and state: Know Your Zone.

2. Know where to go. You may want to book a hotel inland. This is tricky since the path of a hurricane can change quickly. To find a hotel room, you can use a travel website or app, such as Hotels.com, Expedia, Booking.com, Travelocity, Kayak, etc.

3. Plan for your pets. Here is a link to a list of hotels that accept pets. Here is a link to pet-friendly emergency shelters. Use this link to an Emergency Route Planner to find hotels and shelters that accept pets along the route you enter. The American Humane Society offers tips on preparing your pet for hurricanes on its website. Here is a basic pet emergency kit checklist: Preparing Makes Sense for Pet Owners-Emergency Preparedness Pet Kit List.

4. Put together a “go-bag.” Get a disaster supply kit together. It should include a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate. Use this Red Cross checklist. Look under the category “Prepare a Disaster Supplies Kit.”

5. Get your supplies now. If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days. You could be unable to leave your home due to flooding or blocked roads. Here is a checklist to use.

6. Get gas. Gas up your vehicles now. Gas lines will get long and some places will run short on supplies. Use this link to find gas.

7. Make a plan. Use this list to make a family emergency communication plan.

8. Get some cash. If the power goes out, it will be impossible to use ATMs. Businesses that can open after a storm may not be able to accept debit or credit cards.

9. Get the information. Many communities have text or email alert systems for emergency notifications. To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet using the name of your town, city, or county and the word “alerts.”

Preparing your home (Finish this by Tuesday)

1. Prepare the yard. Hurricane winds will cause trees and branches to fall. If you can, trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.

Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property. Clear your yard of unsecured items such as lawn chairs.

2. Get a generator (maybe). Consider buying a portable generator. Remember, generators can be deadly if used incorrectly. Keep generators and other alternative power sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors, and protected from moisture. That means you cannot use a generator during a storm.

In the days to come

1. Pay attention. Keep up-to-date with the information being put out by the National Hurricane Center. Listen to local TV and radio stations.

2. Stay charged. Keep your phone and computers charged. Consider a backup battery for your phone or laptop.

Terms to listen for

1. What does ‘hurricane watch’ mean and what should I do if one is issued? A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions (high winds, storm surge) are possible within the next 48 hours.

Steps to take

· Review your evacuation route(s) and listen to local officials.

· Review the items in your disaster supply kit; and add items to meet the household needs for children, parents, individuals with disabilities or other access and functional needs, and pets.

2. What does ‘hurricane warning’ mean and what should I do if one is issued?

A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours.

Steps to take

· Follow evacuation orders from local officials, if given.

· Check in with family and friends by calling or using social media.