With the arrival of hurricane season today, it's a good idea to start thinking about being prepared for whatever may come our way. After Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, the BP disaster and the Morganza Spillway opening, we've certainly learned a lot, but did you know that Contraflow is no longer a part of the Southwest Louisiana evacuation plan? Would you remember to turn off your water before evacuating? One of my favorite tips came from a Katrina evacuee who told me that she wished that before she left, she had put everything in the refrigerator and freezer into garbage bags, sealed them tightly and put them back in. That way, when the electricity went out, everything wouldn't have leaked all over her unflooded floor and she wouldn't have had as much mess in her kitchen when she returned. That's the kind of tip you can only get from someone who's been through it!

Here are a few more tips from Louisiana State Police:

Know the meaning and the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning:
Hurricane Watch: conditions are possible in the specified area of the watch, usually within 36 hours.
Hurricane Warning: conditions are expected in the specified area of the warning, usually within 24 hours.

If parish or state officials tell you to evacuate:
If advised to evacuate, please do so promptly. Contraflow is no longer a part of the Southwest Louisiana evacuation plan.
Make a family communications plan. Establish a common contact person for your family outside the storm area and let that person know where you are going.
Take emergency supplies including water, warm protective clothing, and blankets or sleeping bags to shelter.
Protect your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and water.

During a hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning:
Listen to radio/television for storm progress reports
Check emergency supplies
Fuel your car
Board up windows and secure outdoor furniture
Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings
Store drinking water
Review your evacuation plan

After the storm:
Tune to local radio or television for information from local and/or state officials.
Return home only after authorities advise that it is safe to do so.

There are several websites that can assist you in planning including www.getagameplan.org, www.lsp.org, www.gohsep.la.gov, or check your parish emergency management website for more information.

To report stalled vehicles or unsafe roadway conditions, you may dial *LSP (*577) from your cell phone to reach the Louisiana State Police troop location closest to you. For road closure information, you may dial 511 from any phone (cell or land line) or visit www.511LA.org.

What's your best hurricane tip?