As areas in Louisiana prepare for Mississippi River flooding, state officials are urging residents in potentially impacted parishes to prepare today by gathering belongs and vital medicines and records.
The Louisiana Department of Health recommends that residents prepare the following items to maintain health while evacuating:
- Any medications; ensure you have a 2-3 week supply and copies of prescriptions
- Special equipment, walkers, wheelchairs and other aids, along with written care instructions
- Written instructions regarding your care and the care of those traveling with you
- Identification, insurance, health and Social Security cards
- Nonperishable food including that needed for special diets (five -day supply)
- Personal hygiene items
- Drinking water (one  gallon per day)
- Extra glasses/contact lenses
- Medication, equipment and food for guide or service dogs (if applicable)
- Style and serial numbers for medical devices (such as pacemakers)
- Help those with special needs by preparing their homes and property for emergencies, shopping for supplies and writing a disaster plan
Because of the amount of time it may take flood waters to recede, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) suggests that residents should be prepared to stay in alternative housing, either with family or friends, hotels or shelters, for an extended period of time. If you are planning to go to a shelter, please limit your belongings to one bag per person.
Include several days' worth of clothing for each family member. You should also pack hygiene supplies, including toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorants, shampoo, comb and brush and feminine hygiene products.
Additionally, bring your cell phone and charger, if owned, and bedding, including a sheet, blanket and pillow for each family member if utilizing a shelter.
It is vital to include important papers. (Bring all applicable):
- Driver's license or personal identification
- Social Security cards for all family members
- Proof of residence (deed or lease)
- Health/Medical and Homeowners or Rental Insurance Policies
- Birth and Marriage certificates
- Wills, deeds, vehicle or property titles and copies of recent tax returns
- Contact information (A current list of family phone numbers and e-mail addresses.)
If you are evacuating with children, be sure to include supplies for them, including extra clothing, diapers and wipes, formula or baby food, a comfort item, such as a favorite stuffed animal, and small games or toys, like a deck of cards or travel-sized game.
If you are evacuating, but not planning to go to a shelter, please see this Red Cross checklist for additional items that may be useful - www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/checklists/Flood.pdf. Copies of this checklist in Spanish, French and Vietnamese can be found on the Louisiana Capital Area Red Cross chapter website - www.batonrouge.redcross.org.
If parish or state officials tell you to evacuate, adhere to the following guidance from Louisiana State Police:
- Leave as soon as possible
- Make a family communications plan, and tell someone outside the affected area where you are going
- Take emergency supplies, warm protective clothing and blankets/sleeping bags to shelter
- Protect your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and water
- Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings
- Review evacuation plan
- Listen to radio/television for progress reports
- Fuel your car
- Identify ahead of time where you will go if you are told to evacuate (choose several options)
- Make sure your vehicle has been properly inspected and/or serviced to make such a trip
- Monitor the National Weather Service, local radio and TV stations for evacuation instructions
- Stay tuned to local radio or television for information from your local or state officials
- Return home only after state or local authorities advise that it is safe to do so.
Make a personal and/or family plan by putting together the following items:
- Extra batteries in needed/various sizes
- Battery-Powered radio and lantern
- Bottled water (at least three gallons per person)
- Canned food and non-electric can opener
- First Aid Kit and essential medications
- Personal Items (clothes, rain gear, compass, tape, garbage bags, toiletries)
- Personal Identification and other important documents
- Evacuation route maps
For many, pets are integral members of the family unit, so it is also important to consider them when making evacuation plans.
- Make sure pets have proper identification - preferably something permanent like a microchip or tattoo and collars with identifying tags.
- Important items concerning pets to take along during an evacuation: health records, 3-day food and water supply, pet carriers, leashes, harnesses, muzzles, special medications.
- Exotic pets, like snakes and lizards, should be contained at all times and owners need to bring extension cords for plugging in heat rocks and lamps.
- Take digital or film pictures of any identifying marks on the pet in order to prove ownership.
For assistance in evacuation planning, visitwww.getagameplan.org and www.lsp.org or local parish websites. To report stalled vehicles or unsafe roadway conditions, dial *LSP (*577) from your cellular phone to reach the State Police office closest to you. For road closure information, dial 511 or visit www.511LA.org.
For emergency updates from the State of Louisiana, visit emergency.louisiana.gov or follow along on Twitter at @GOHSEP and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/gohsep.