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Earth Sense: Preparation for hurricane is vital
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It’s rare for a hurricane like Sandy to bypass most of the East Coast and then enter the continent that far north.

For the Gainesville area, it’s nice to know that hurricanes tend to quickly lose power when their center (the “eye”) makes it to solid land.

So what should Georgians do when a hurricane approaches? Anywhere near the coast, it’s a good idea to have pre-cut window panels ready. Plywood is best, but the cheaper oriented strand board will also do. It should be «-inch thick for strength. After cutting to a size that covers the entire window frame to the edge of the moldings, the boards can be installed using coarse-threaded drywall screws. An electric drill-driver makes short work of that.

While it’s essential to do this at near-ocean location, the chance of getting windows blown out is much smaller in Gainesville. Some people like to put large “X”es of masking tape on the glass. You might as well not bother because they don’t really prevent anything. But removing the sticky remnants afterward is a chore.

In the Hall County area, precautions for hurricanes are the same as for any severe storm. Don’t drive around in it. Traffic lights may be out, and car crashes are still the No. 1 killer in storms.

Don’t drive into flooded roadways. In 10 inches of water, a car turns into a boat without controls, and can drift into a stream and overturn.

Park the car away from trees that may drop branches or fall over.

In low-lying areas, flash floods can come up very quickly, so move to higher ground if your residence is next to a creek.

Powerful LED flashlights are now cheap. Keep a handful around for power outages, and don’t use candles because they have caused house fires here in the past.

Keeping a full tank of gas in the car is also good because power outages can knock all the gas stations out of order. Having an emergency supply of food and water doesn’t hurt, although I haven’t seen a need for it in this area except for winter storms.

In the other seasons, the events to prepare for are mostly strong wind gusts, flash flooding and loss of electricity.

Rudi Kiefer, Ph.D., is a professor of physical science and director of sustainability at Brenau University. His column appears Sundays and at

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