AgCenter experts offer hurricane preparedness tips

Courtesy: MGN
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BATON ROUGE, La. (LSU AG CENTER) -- Hurricane season started June 1st, and while Louisiana doesn’t often see storms this early in the season, it is important to be prepared before a storm strikes.

The LSU AgCenter has experts and resources to get Louisiana residents ready for the next storm.

AgCenter housing specialist Claudette Reichel said hurricane prep projects start with the letter "S".

“Think shingles, soffits, seals, shutters, and surroundings,” Reichel said.

Homeowners looking to replace a roof have hurricane-hardy options. But if a replacement isn’t in the plans, Reichel said, homeowners can strengthen existing shingles with roofing cement.

“Put some dabs under the first course of shingles and along the gable ends where it is most vulnerable,” she said. Roof damage is the biggest homeowners insurance claim following a hurricane.

Reichel also recommended securing soffits with polyurethane sealant and stainless steel screws. “Soffits are less likely to get blown around and allow wind-driven rain into your attic and cause major damage,” she said.

Inexpensive caulk will seal holes where wires, cables, and pipes enter or exit your house.

When high winds are expected, flying debris can damage windows. Shutters such as lightweight translucent removable storm panels are a good alternative to heavy plywood boards, Reichel said.

AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill also stressed the need to look at your surroundings before a storm.

High on the list is checking out trees, particularly mature shade trees. “Look for trees that have decay in their trunk or large dead areas, or ones that are dead altogether. All of this needs to be taken care of well before a hurricane threatens our area,” Gill said.

Gill recommends hiring a licensed arborist to evaluate trees and see what work needs to be done on them.

He also said to secure loose objects in your landscapes, such as potted plants, hanging baskets, bird feeders, wind chimes, children’s play areas and patio furniture.

Also, protect chemicals that may be stored in a garage or carport. “Make sure chemicals such as pesticides or gasoline are in secure locations and are high enough so they won’t be hit by flood waters,” he said.

AgCentr food safety expert Wenqing Xu said now is the time to stock up on non-perishable food items and water.

“Water is very important. It is best to buy bottled water and prepare one gallon of water per day per person,” she said.

To keep food safe in the event of a power outage, keep the doors of your refrigerator and freezer shut as much as possible. “Frozen foods can be safely refrozen if they still have ice crystals on them or the temperature is 40 degrees or lower,” Xu said.

She also said to make sure you have a manual can opener, a food thermometer to monitor temperature and bleach if you need to sanitize utensils, pots, and water.

Preparation also means getting pets and livestock ready for a storm. LSU AgCenter veterinarian Dr. Christine Navarre said to make sure animals are healthy and vaccinations are up-to-date.

“Healthy animals will be better prepared to handle the stress of relocation,” Navarre said.

Microchipping animals or having identification for them in some way will help if you are separated from your animals. Navarre recommended storing identification numbers online in the cloud so they can be retrieved from anywhere

She also said to prepare an emergency to-go box that includes contact information for animals’ veterinarians, medications, feed, and leashes. She also said it is important to get a pet used to its pet carrier before it is necessary for the animal to be transported in it.

Determine where you will evacuate before the storm and make sure it is pet-friendly if you are bringing your pets with you or look for a place where you can safely board pets or livestock, Navarre said.

More information on hurricane preparedness is available online at www.lsuagcener.com.