Five links that can save your life during a hurricane

Unlike hurricane veterans in Florida and Louisiana, New Yorkers are relative rookies to the severe weather game. As Hurricane Irene barreled towards New York City last week, many people were unsure of how best to prepare for a big storm, causing a bit of a hurricane panic.

There is no more effective way to deal with any disaster than to be prepared. Hurricanes can do a lot of damage, but that can be minimized with some easy steps to take in advance. The National Hurricane Center outlines just exactly what you need to do to prepare for an oncoming storm, including developing a plan for you and your family, preparing a survival kit, and knowing your local emergency centers and evacuation routes.

The survival kit is a popular, but often misused aspect in disaster prevention. People pack their kits with the wrong equipment, or count on them exclusively as the only safeguard against disaster. FEMA takes away the mystery with their outline of what should go into an emergency kit at, covering all the essentials like food, water, and a flashlight with batteries, as well as some you might not expect.

But what if you can’t just hunker down in your house and wait out the storm? The New York City Office of Emergency Management has a handy tool that lets you calculate whether or not your home is in a flood zone and should be evacuated. Once you know whether or not you should evacuate, knowing where to go is key. The Wall Street Journal composed a list on Foursquare of all of the city evacuation centers, which is easily accessible online or on a smartphone.

When the storm hits, you might lose power, so having a paper reference on disaster management might be useful. An extra piece of paper worth adding to any hurricane survival kit is the Office of Emergency Management’s Ready New York pamphlet, a PDF you can print out easily, fold up, and refer to for most hurricane-preparedness issues.

Following the guidelines of these organizations can save your life, limit damage to your property, and make you an expert on how to prepare for a hurricane. Don’t wait for the next one to study up.