Virginia Cooperative Extension is encouraging residents to plan ahead during National Hurricane Preparedness Week, which is May 24-30. 

Hurricanes are one of the most common natural disasters in Virginia. In addition to high winds, other hazards also follow hurricanes including storm surges, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, and tornadoes. Hurricane season begins June 1, so begin planning now. To help individuals with planning, the Virginia Department of Taxation is having a Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday from May 25-May 31. Many items needed for emergency planning are exempt from sales tax including batteries and flashlights, bottled water, tarps, first aid kits, portable radios, and more. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has a complete list of eligible items.

Virginia has not experienced a significant number of hurricanes in the past couple of years. In 2004, however, Virginia experienced five significant hurricanes that produced 59 tornadoes. The most significant hurricane of that year was Hurricane Ivan, which produced 40 tornadoes in one day. Power outages are common during storms and can impact the ability to store and prepare food or to have access to potable water. 

“Having an emergency kit which includes food and water supplies for at least three days is important” said Michael Martin, Virginia Cooperative Extension emergency response and preparedness coordinator. “It is also important to make preparations for taking care of any household pets and making plans for sheltering in case of evacuation.” 

Family communication plans are another important part of planning for an emergency. A written plan indicating where to meet and a primary person to contact should be given to each family member. In addition, having an emergency plan for the elderly and those family members with a disability or special medical situation must also be considered. Martin also suggests that families keep cars at least half filled with fuel because, in an emergency, fuel may not be available. 

For more information on making plans for hurricane preparedness, visit the websites for Virginia Department of Emergency Management or Virginia Cooperative Extension disaster education.