With Hurricane Irene set to make a destructive run up the Eastern Seaboard, it’s imperative for those of us in her path – from North Carolina all the way up to New England – to be prepared for the worst.
In some cases, this means evacuating. In others, it means simply hunkering down and being aware of hurricane safety guidelines.
Some coastal communities in North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia have already been ordered to evacuate to safer locations, and officials in many states along the East Coast have made state of emergency declarations.
While most evacuations are still voluntary at this point throughout the affected states, government officials are urging residents to take the warnings seriously and have a plan to get out if needed.
For up-to-date information regarding evacuations in your area, visit your state government’s website.
For up-to-date information regarding New York City evacuations, click here
For those who are not required to evacuate, here are important guidelines to follow in preparation of a hurricane, according to the National Weather Service:
-Have a plan. Discuss possible hazards and procedures with your family, decide on a safe room in your house, identify escape routes and memorize emergency numbers
-Prepare a disaster supply kit, including water, non-perishable food, blankets, clothing, first aid kit, toiletries, flashlight, radio, fully charged telephones, cash, keys, important documents and tools
-Secure your home; take lawn furniture inside and shutter windows if necessary
-Ensure the fuel tank in your car is full
-Have a battery-powered radio to get news updates in the event of a power outage
Regardless of whether or not you are in an evacuation zone, if you live in a high-rise apartment building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor, according to this New York government guide.
Finally, for anyone with travel plans to or from the East Coast this weekend, make sure to check with your airline or train service, as many carriers are canceling service in advance of the hurricane.
People within the New York/Metro area should be aware that the MTA will shut down all subways, buses and trains at noon Saturday. Bridges may also be closed depending on the speed of the winds Irene brings with her.
It’s important not to panic, of course, but this hurricane is not a matter to be taken lightly either. Be safe and be smart this weekend, everyone.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.