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May 31, 2012

Contact: Media

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on National Hurricane Preparedness Week

May 27 to June 2 is National Hurricane Preparedness Week, a time to plan what actions we should take as individuals and communities to reduce the impact of a hurricane disaster. The effects of these storms can be devastating and can have long-lasting consequences, including loss of life and property.

Regardless of whether the hurricane season is forecasted to be above or below average you can be a force of nature by having a personal hurricane plan in place now. If a storm is approaching, the single most important thing to do is follow the guidance you’re your local authorities, knowing when to evacuate, where to go and what to take may save your life. I urge you to take a few minutes to make a plan, gather supplies for an emergency kit and learn evacuation routes.

As you make your personal and family plan, consider:

  • Food safety and safe drinking water:  Knowing what to keep and what not to use can help keep you and your family safe and healthy during and after a hurricane.
  • People with chronic medical conditions should plan to prevent their medications from becoming spoiled or contaminated.
  • If you’re thinking about using a power generator, make sure you know how to operate it safely in order to prevent deadly carbon dioxide (CO) poisoning of people and animals. Install a CO detector in your home and change the battery every six months.

We now also have two new Facebook applications that can help walk you through this planning and identify three “lifelines” – people who agree to provide whatever you may need after a disaster. These two apps were the first and second place winners in a nationwide contest HHS sponsored last hurricane season to design apps that can help everyone become better prepared.

Being able to withstand and minimize the impact of a hurricane requires the whole community to get involved. Our Hospital Preparedness Program helps health care facilities plan for disasters, train personnel for disasters, and fund interoperable communications that deliver vital information when it is needed most. The Public Health Emergency Preparedness Cooperative Agreement Program supports state and local health agencies in building the capability to respond to public health emergencies. However, we recognize that some disasters are so devastating that even the best prepared community may need support. Our U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and our National Disaster Medical System are trained and ready to augment state and local responders wherever needed.

With tens of millions of Americans living in coastal communities and more living in areas that can be affected by hurricanes, preparation can enhance our ability to respond to and recover from any natural disaster. National Hurricane Preparedness Week highlights the importance of planning ahead to protect our families and secure our communities and homes. It only takes one hurricane hitting you to make it a bad year, so prepare for this being the year that you will be impacted by a hurricane. For more information on how to stay safe, see:


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Last revised: April 4, 2014