It's hot outside. It hasn't rained much.
Fairhope Emergency Management is encouraging residents to take time to hurricane prep while everyone's spending more time inside.
"The best time to prepare is on what we call 'blue sky days,'" said Sheri Swartz, Fairhope Communications, Outreach and Emergency Management. "Waiting until a circulation is in the Gulf leaves residents in long lines and with fewer resources. Look over your supply kit and emergency plan when the weather and moods are calm."
Hurricane season, which runs from June 1-Nov. 30, has been quiet for this part of the Gulf Coast so far, but September is considered the peak of the season. At one point earlier this week, five tropical systems were rolling around the Atlantic. That doesn't mean they will impact the Gulf Coast, or any coast for that matter, but with the tropics starting to get active, this is a good time to look through your hurricane kit and evacuation plan and prepare.
If you are new to the Gulf Coast and feeling a little overwhelmed with where to start, we have put together a list to help.
This is also a good time to plan where you will store outdoor items like lawn furniture, potted plants, toys and trampolines. These items can get blown over or away during any storm with strong winds.
While this hurricane prep list is a good start, take your family's needs into consideration. If you have small children, include toys, coloring books and Crayons to occupy them when the electricity or internet is out or during evacuation travel. If you have pets, make sure their needs and welfare are considered.
- Water for 10 days – It is recommended to have 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation. Also, consider your pets in your planning.
- Food for 72 hours minimum – A three-day supply of non-perishable food per person is the minimum individuals should plan to have in an emergency kit. Remember to include a manual can opener in your kit. If you have babies, make sure to include formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream.
- Weather radio
- Medical supplies – Check your first-aid kit to make sure it does not need to be replenished. If you do not have one, buy one. It is also important to plan and have a supply of medication.
- Backup power source or batteries – Many homes in the area are equipped with generators, but for those that do not have a generator, it is important to have a stock of batteries in various sizes.
- Plan for pets – Beloved pets need emergency supplies as well. Make sure you have a stock of food to last for a minimum of three days (just like humans) and enough water. If you plan to evacuate, remember some shelters and hotels do not allow animals so consider that when making your hurricane plans.
- Sign up for local alerts – Baldwin County residents should sign up for Alert Baldwin. The system allows you to select critical information that you wish to receive notifications for, such as severe weather, hazardous material releases, unexpected road hazards and closures, missing persons and evacuations.
- Critical documents – Include important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container.
- Evacuation plan – Even if you never plan to leave for a storm, it is still important to have an evacuation plan just in case. Have places in mind where you can go, how you will get there and consider if you have pets to care for.
- Cash – After a hurricane, the power or internet can be out for many days. It is advised to have cash to make purchases.
- Cellphone – It almost seems silly to list cell phones as most Americans are rarely without them, but it is vital to have a charged cellphone in an emergency. Include chargers and backup batteries in your kit and make sure to charge backups before a storm arrives.
- Cleaning supplies – Cleaning supplies for home, yard and people are good to include in your kit. Include garbage bags, disinfecting wipes and gloves for cleaning up after. For humans, include baby wipes for quick cleaning, hand sanitizer and basic toiletries.
- Tools – Include a wrench or pliers in your kit to turn off utilities. Include waterproof matches and lighters in your kit as well.
"The most crucial element in preparing for a hurricane is to plan ahead," Swartz said. "Waiting until the storm arrives in your area is not the time to start preparing. Complacency is the biggest obstacle to overcome when it comes to hurricane preparedness. People often feel confident in their ability to navigate storms on past experience or the belief that they have enough time to get ready."
For more information on how to prepare for hurricanes, evacuation routes, flood information and more, pick up a copy of Stay Alert Baldwin County from Gulf Coast Media or Baldwin County EMA.