I am a member of several governmental mailing lists, most of which are about disaster and emergency preparedness.  Today, one of those emails had the following words from the American Red Cross about hurricane preparedness that are perfect for sharing

Stay safe!

Citizen Corps Partners and Affiliates Updates
Red Cross Urges Preparedness For Hurricane Irene
Irene, the first Atlantic hurricane of 2011, began pounding Puerto Rico on Monday with heavy rain and winds as high as 80 miles per hour after leaving many residents on St. Thomas and St. Croix without power Sunday. Irene is expected to gain strength as the week goes on, threatening Florida and the southeast states as early as Thursday.
Irene grew into a Category 2 hurricane late Monday and the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said it could reach Category 3 as early as Tuesday and possibly become a monster Category 4 storm within 72 hours. 
Forecasters said it could still be that strong when it slams into the United States, possibly landing in Florida, Georgia or South Carolina. Irene is expected to rake the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Most computer forecast models show Irene threatening Florida and South Carolina by the end of the week.
Forecasters said a low pressure trough over the eastern United States was expected to shift Irene’s track to the east, reducing the risk of a direct landfall in densely populated South Florida but raising the risk in the Carolinas. 
It’s important to know what the hurricane warnings mean. A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions could threaten the area within 48 hours. People should stay informed and be ready to act if a warning is issued. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Those in the affected area should finish their storm preparations and leave the area if authorities ask them to do so.
The Red Cross has steps people can take this week as the storm approaches to help ensure their safety and the safety of their loved ones.
Before the hurricane:

  • Check your emergency supplies and replace or restock as needed.  Your disaster kit should contain items such as gallons of water, non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food and sanitation and personal hygiene items.  More information about what you should include is available on the Red Cross web site.
  • Create an evacuation plan with members of your household and practice it to cut down on any confusion. 
  • Plan routes to your community’s shelters, register family members with special needs as required.
  • Make plans for your pets. 

If a hurricane is predicted for your area:

  • Bring items inside that can be picked up by the wind. 
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings and keep them closed as much as possible so food will last longer if the power goes out.
  • Turn off any propane tanks and unplug your small appliances.
  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank. 
  • Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters.  If you don’t have hurricane shutters, close and board up your windows and doors with plywood. 
  • Listen to local authorities and evacuate if advised to do so.  Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.

After a hurricane:

  • Return home only when officials say it is safe. 
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them to the power company.
  • Stay out of any building that has water around it. 
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you’re sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Keep your animals under your direct control.

You can also click here to learn more about what to do before, during and after a hurricane from FEMA.