Hurricane season begins Monday and officials on the national, state and local level are again united as they issue their annual call to action: Be prepared.
While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a "normal" season this year, 35 million of us live in regions most threatened by Atlantic hurricanes, according to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Public awareness and public preparedness are the best defenses against a hurricane, he said in a prepared statement issued this month by NOAA.
With nine to 14 named storms predicted - four to seven of which are likely to become hurricanes - even a "normal" season should not bring complacency.
It's time again to gather documents, compile supplies, and put together evacuation plans.
Among the things the state recommends we should all have stockpiled between June 1 and Nov. 30? Water and non-perishable food and snacks to last three to seven days; a non-electric can opener, paper plates and utensils we won't have to wash; flashlights and other portable, self-powered light sources; batteries, medications and ice chests.
Gov. Charlie Crist's office also suggests we ready portable and NOAA weather-band radios and waterproof tarps, and that we make sure we have containers for fuel for propane grills or portable generators.
Storm shutters or plywood for windows remain a good idea for battening down the hatches if and when a watch is issued.
If ordered to evacuate, we should all have important papers, Social Security cards, immunization records, cash and prescription medications at the ready along with special supplies for children, and carriers and food for any pets.
For more information on getting ready, we invite you to visit cape-coral-daily-breeze.com where we have posted our annual Hurricane Guide. It's under "specials" down the left hand column.
We also will keep you updated, on-line and in-print, as the season progresses.
Be prepared. Be safe. And may this "normal" season pass without any storms for the record books.
- Breeze editorial