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How to prepare for Hurricane Irene -- or an earthquake

August 22, 2011 |  3:09 pm

Emergency_preparedness_kits

The threat of Hurricane Irene, currently bearing down on the East Coast, has sent residents in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas into preparation mode, checking their supplies of batteries, flashlights, food and ready cash.

Maybe Californians should take note.

Florida and California have a lot in common -- and it's not just sun-soaked beaches. Residents in both states can be in denial about natural disasters, waiting until the last minute to get ready for them. (Florida has an advantage over earthquake-prone California in that residents typically have advance hurricane warnings.)

On Monday, amid news reports that the Category 1 hurricane is on track to intensify into a Category 3  and could slam into the East Coast as early as Thursday, residents up and down the coast were doing their best to prepare.

Lowe's spokeswoman Katie Cody told the Times that Lowe's stores from eastern Florida up to Wilmington, N.C., were unusually active Monday with customers coming in for plywood to cover windows and doors, generators, flashlights, batteries and more.

"It's the first storm of the season," she said. "We’ve been closely monitoring the storm and preparing our stories in that area."

A joint report by FEMA, NOAA and the Red Cross on how to prepare for a tropical storm offers plenty of suggestions on getting your home to ready weather a storm, as well as what to set aside in case of an emergency.

The latter suggestions -- applicable to the natural disaster of your choosing -- include fresh water, blankets, sleeping bags, first-aid kits, identification, insurance paperwork, medicines and prescriptions, credit cards and toiletries. But don't forget games, books, and an MP3 player -- with headphones and charger -- and other items that might help pass the time in a worst-case situation.

Basically, take some time to put together a list of all the things you might want and need in an emergency, particularly a natural disaster in which you could be stranded for several days before help arrives.

Here's hoping you won't need any of it.

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--Rene Lynch
On Twitter @renelynch

Photo: In this 2010 file photo, a worker puts together a 25-person emergency kit at Simpler Life in Redlands. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

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