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There’s an unwelcome guest heading to the Gulf Coast this Labor Day holiday weekend, as Hurricane Gustav makes tracks past Jamaica and into the Gulf of Mexico. He’s just a tropical storm right now, but the National Weather Service National Hurricane Center expects him to strengthen to hurricane strength as he approaches the Cayman Islands and continue to grow in the Gulf.

Because hurricane tracking is not an exact science, best guess currently has the entire Gulf Coast area from Texas to Florida on alert. A big storm doesn’t just affect those who live along the beaches, either. Strong winds and flooding rains will move inland still carrying a good deal of force. Residents of states in the line of fire, like Alabama, are bracing for impact and preparing for a worst-case scenario.

In Fall 2007, the Alabama Department of Public Health unveiled a disaster preparedness campaign that helps provide planning information that will get people ahead of the game in the event of an emergency. Called the Get 10 campaign, the program promotes the 10 items everyone should prepare as a disaster readiness kit, and provides additional information and resources for emergency situations.

If you live in Alabama or another Gulf Coast state preparing for Gustav, this information can help you get ready. With landfall expected sometime Monday or Tuesday, the time to act is now. The 10 items recommended by ADPH are:

  1. 1. water
  2. 2. food
  3. 3. can opener
  4. 4. medications
  5. 5. first aid
  6. 6. flashlight
  7. 7. radio
  8. 8. clothes
  9. 9. personal care items (toiletries)
  10. 10. important documents

The Get 10 web site has additional information about preparing each of these items. Additionally, they recommend these 5 important things to do to be ready in the case of an emergency:

  1. 1. Stay informed. Learn about the emergency alert system and weather alerts.
  2. 2. Learn about basic injury and disease prevention.
  3. 3. Look for the most current information on emergency preparedness.
  4. 4. Create a family preparedness plan and emergency supply kit (the 10 items listed above)
  5. 5. Become familiar with the emergency plans of your community, school, caregivers and workplace.

Even if you do not live in an area that may be affected this weekend by Hurricane Gustav, these are good tips for any emergency. Be prepared, and be safe.

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