Here are important tips to get ready for 2017 hurricane season

Happy Memorial Day to everyone, and let’s keep our service men and women in our thoughts and prayers always.

Hurricane season begins Thursday, so start working on your hurricane plans now.

Speak with your neighbors to develop plans, including a phone chain. Exchange contact information and emails now. Survey the neighborhood to see about special needs. Folks, we should not depend on police, fire and government for the first 72 hours as they will have their hands full. Be astute in your preparedness. It is our responsibility to be prepared.

Make a plan and prepare to evacuate. Plan your evacuation route by using maps and identifying alternative routes. Pets should not be left behind. Check with for more information. Plan how you will care for your pets and stock up on extra food, water and supplies for them. Also make sure they have a chip or a tag in case you get separated.

Develop a family communication plan by designating an out-of-town contact that you can call. Ask them to contact other people who care about you, to let them know your status. Write contact information including name, home, work and cellphone numbers and e-mail address. Share this information with your family and friends so you can all communicate with each other before and after the storm.

▪ Cellphones: Program all of your emergency contact numbers and e-mail addresses into your mobile phone. Keep your wireless phone batteries charged at all times, have an alternative plan to recharge your battery in case of a power outage, such as charging your wireless device by using your car charger.

▪ Assemble a disaster supplies kit including the following items: nonperishable or canned food, non-electric can opener, bottled water, clothing, rainwear, bedding, sleeping bags, pillows, battery-operated radio, flashlight and extra batteries, non-electric telephone, prescriptions and medications, first aid kit, car keys and maps.

You may need special items for infants, elderly, and people with disabilities. Store important documents in a waterproof container, driver's licenses, Social Security cards, proof of residence, passports, insurance policies, tax records, birth and marriage certificates, deeds and wills. Also place your valuables in containers or baggies and take them with you.

Remember to make a supplies kit for pets with water, food (with manual can opener), collars with identification tag, carrier or harness, sturdy leash, medication, name and number of veterinarian, cat litter pan and scooper, pet beds and toys.

▪ Prepare your home: Bring inside lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants, outdoor decorations or ornaments, or anything else that can be carried by the wind. Close windows and doors, then close hurricane shutters or install pre-cut plywood.

▪ Evacuate if necessary: If time allows, call or e-mail your out-of-town contacts to let them know where you are going and when you expect to get there. Advise others when you are leaving and where you are going. Check with neighbors who may need a ride or other assistance. Contact your local police departments advise them you are leaving, and request a watch order if possible. Also advise your alarm company you are evacuating.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.