September 11, 2008

Preparing for Hurricane Ike

Posted: 12:44 PM ET

Thousands of people are fleeing coastal Texas or planning to evacuate as Ike churns toward them across the Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Ike

Whether you are staying or going, you should gather emergency supplies and keep them by the door. The emergency box or bag should include a first-aid kit, an NOAA radio, flashlight, extra batteries, copies of birth certificates, prescriptions and health, auto and house insurance documents. Also, have cash, non-perishable foods and bottled water. A fuller list of what to have can be found on the Red Cross Web site.

If you have time, the Texas Department of Insurance also suggests taking steps to protect your home such as turning off all gas and water lines and securing structurally unstable building materials. The agency also offers this fact sheet.

Preparation for staying

Make sure you have at hand all essential medications and at least five gallons of water per person and 3 to 5 day supply of non-perishable food, eating utensils, cleaning supplies and a can opener. The Texas Governor’s Division of Emergency Management Web site offers more tips on what you will need

Know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning, and listen for mandatory evacuation orders from the government.


Most important is to have an evacuation plan – know when and where you are going to go. Texas has posted emergency evacuation routes on the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management Web site.

Current road conditions and closures can be found on this Texas Department of Transportation Web site. It would be smart to check it before you leave. Traffic will probably be slow-moving, so make sure your gas tank is full, you have cash to buy more gas and you have plenty of food and water.

If you have pets, you can use this Web site to check out which hotels take animals.

If you need shelter information in Texas call 1-512-424-2208. You can continually check the hurricane’s status at the National Weather Services’ Southern Region Headquarters’ Web site.

Important numbers

Probably the biggest cause of confusion in an emergency is a lack of communication. Keep a list of all emergency numbers or program them into your cell phone’s address book. The federal Web site EcoWatch provides a list of local and state government numbers.

Also, designate one friend or family member out of the storm’s path to coordinate communication. Everyone can contact that person to report their location, condition and new contact information.

If you are not in the region being hit by Hurricane Ike, but would like to help out, has a list of agencies that are dedicated to helping hurricane devastated regions and victims.

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Clark Howard helps you become a wise consumer. We know you're busy, and that's why Clark's tips are quick and effective. He'll arm you with the information you need to make smart choices. During these tough economic times, Clark wants to help you save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off!