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Strive for survival


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POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009

Hurricane Felicia had her fling before fizzling out a few weeks ago into a tropical depression of rain showers, while Guillermo managed to smother us with muggy weather last week.

As for what's next, no one knows, except that the next tropical cyclone would be called Hilda, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service.

Hurricane season in Hawaii lasts from June 1 through Nov. 30. Updates are available on stormpulse.com (which is also on Twitter).

Here's the deal: Now that there's a lull, this is the opportune time to get your hurricane preparedness kit together, if you don't have one already. As everyone says, it's better to be safe than sorry.

When everyone's rushing to shop for emergency items, prices tend to spike due to supply and demand. It's better to shop when no hurricane is approaching and you can take your time to shop for the best deals.

The basics, according to the Hurricane Safety Center, are water, food, first-aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools, emergency supplies and special items.

Honolulu's Department of Emergency Management recommends that your survival kit include a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, nonperishable food for five days, a nonelectric can opener, water, sleeping bags/blankets/air mattresses, a two-week supply of prescription medicines, personal hygiene supplies and toiletries.

NOAA recommends fueling your vehicles when a hurricane or tropical storm watch is issued. It's also good to have extra propane tanks and fuel on hand, plus masking tape for windows and glass doors.

You can find a checklist for hurricane survival kits at http://www.honolulu.gov/dem/ survkit.htm, or flip to the front pages of your telephone book (all three versions include a disaster preparedness guide) for a checklist from your county's civil defense.

Here's what you should keep in your survival kit:

» You need to store at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food. Buying in bulk, of course, can save you some money. Military surplus stores carry meals ready to eat. A small cooler filled with gel packs also could come in handy.

» You need to store at least one gallon of water per person per day (more, if you have pets or children). Buying bottled water is inexpensive unless you're going for fancy brands. But you also can save your gallon juice and milk jugs, rinse them out and fill with tap water to save money.

» Radios and flashlights: Hand-crank radios and flashlights are good alternatives to battery-operated ones, or good to have in case you run out of batteries (though you should keep extra batteries on hand). There are also solar-powered flashlights, radios and chargers.

» First-aid supplies: Look for sales. Try your military surplus store or even Goodwill, Salvation Army and Savers.

» Keep in a safe place: Important documents including driver's license, insurance policies and extra cash.

>> For your pets: The Hawaiian Humane Society recommends setting aside a two-week supply of food, water and medicine. Locate your closest pet-friendly shelter at http://www.hawaiianhumane.org/petshelters1.html.

» Retrofit your home for a hurricane. Unfortunately, a program that offered up to a 35 percent rebate for hurricane retrofits (reinforcing your home with ties and clips) ended on June 30, 2008. Costs range from $1,200 to $2,600, depending on your home. What's good to know is that building manufacturer Simpson Strong-Tie has developed hurricane clips for single-wall homes.

» Make sure you're insured: Several new hurricane insurance providers have entered the Hawaii market, making rates more competitive. Shop around to find the best coverage.

”;Here's The Deal”; helps consumers stretch dollars in these tough economic times. It runs every other Monday. Contact Nina Wu at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Useful Web sites

» National Hurricane Center

»  NOAA's National Weather Service

»  Hawaii Civil Defense

» State hurricane shelters