Here's how to prepare for the life-threatening storm

By Marlene Lenthang
Updated October 06, 2016 02:39 PM
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Millions of people along the East Coast are bracing themselves for Hurricane Matthew as the Category 4 storm spirals towards Florida. The deadly storm, which has claimed the lives of over 100 people in Haiti, is predicted to deliver a destructive blow to Florida before it heads north towards Georgia and South Carolina.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has warned 1.5 million residents not to take evacuation orders lightly.

“This is serious,” he said during a briefing Thursday morning. “If you need to evacuate and you haven’t, evacuate. This storm will kill you. Time is running out. We don’t have that much time left.”

Here’s how to prepare for the life-threatening storm.

  • Evacuate and find shelter.

The Red Cross stresses the importance of learning about your community’s hurricane response plan. Find your nearest shelter and plan routes in case of emergency. Websites such as FloridaEvacuates.com provide a list of shelters. Make sure to write down directions in case power/cell reception is out.

  • Stock up on supplies.

According to the Red Cross, families should have water to last a minimum of three days — one gallon per family member. Prepare non-perishable foods to last three days and keep a can opener on hand. Turn the refrigerator to the coldest setting to make food last as long as possible. Other things to keep handy are a first-aid kit, an alternate light for when power goes out, extra batteries, rain gear and blankets.

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  • Secure your home.

Protect your home by closing and locking all doors and windows. The Red Cross Hurricane Safety Checklist encourages residents to board up windows and doors with plywood to keep the harsh winds out. Be sure to unplug sensitive electronic equipment, including computers, wireless routers and televisions as electrical surges and lightning strikes can destroy such devices even with surge protection.

  • Avoid windows.

During the storm, remain in the basement, away from any windows. If there is no basement, The United States Coastal Guard advises selecting an interior room as a safe room. It is also a good idea to remain under heavy furniture in case debris from the storm damages the roof.

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  • Check insurance coverage.

Be sure your home is protected against flooding, something that may not always be included in standard home and renters insurance. Car owners should also contact auto insurance companies and make sure vehicles have been moved to the most secure location possible.

  • Beware of the eye of the storm.

The National Weather Society warns to stay indoors until officially told otherwise. The storm may seem over, but it could just be the passing of the eye of the hurricane, which is temporarily calm and can last between a few minutes to an hour. As the hurricane keeps moving, the storm will pick up again.

  • Know the signs.

A green-and-black colored sky, the appearance of hail and increasingly loud rain are all signs it’s time to move to the safe spot of the house. Listen to the NOAA Weather Radio for updates on the storm’s activity.