Orange County Emergency Management says to prepare for Irma's arrival before stores run out of water

Orange County Emergency Management urges residents to prepare for Hurricane Irma now to ensure they will be able to weather any long-range disruptions of service caused by an extended power outage or downed trees and powerlines that could make travel dangerous.

The time to prepare an emergency kit is before a disaster, said Kirby Saunders, Orange County Emergency Management Coordinator. "The first 72 hours after a major event are critical, and our resources will be stretched thin as we work to repair any damage to our infrastructure and respond to critical needs," said Saunders. "Residents need to be ready to take care of themselves for several days. Stocking a kit of supplies is critical." 

Saunders said ReadyNC.org has excellent information on preparing an emergency kit, including an app for your phone. Search ReadyNC in the App Store to download the free app for announcements of shelters being opened, road closures, power outages, evacuations and other critical information.

To stay informed during the event, follow Orange County (@OCNCGOV) and Orange County Emergency Services (@ocncemergency) on Twitter. The sites are updated constantly with the late set information about the storm and status updates on services and travel conditions. 

ReadyNC recommended supplies to have on hand include:

  • Water - 1 gallon per person per day for 3 to 7 days
  • Food – non-perishable and canned food supply for 3 to 7 days
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and National oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with extra batteries
  • Cell phone with charger
  • First aid kit and first aid book
  • Pet supplies
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off water
  • Blanket or sleeping bag – 1 per person
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Seasonal change of clothing, including sturdy shoes
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, feminine supplies
  • Extra house and car keys
  • Important documents – insurance policies, copy of driver’s license, Social Security card, bank account records
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Cash and change
  • Books, games and cards

Preparing for water emergencies

Store enough bottled water to have one gallon per person per day for at least three days, as recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Federal Emergency Management Agency. 
  • Store bottled water for use by pets if you have them. 
  • Bottled water should not be used after the expiration date, because of the potential for bacteria to grow in the water over time. However, expired water can be marked "Not Drinking Water" and saved for purposes such as flushing toilets. 
  • After use, bottles should be recycled or reused.

You can flush a toilet with a tank once when water service is off. 

  • If you have a toilet without a tank or if the tank is empty, you can flush the toilet by pouring 1 to 2 gallons of water into the bowl. You can use a container such as a bucket to pour the water. 
  • If possible, flush with non-drinking water such as water from a creek, pond, rain barrel, well (if you have access to one), etc.  
  • If advance notice is given, before a water shortage/emergency or service interruption, you may wish to save several gallons of water in a bath tub or containers for flushing. We recommend marking containers as “Not drinking water” so you can store them for an extended time. 
  • Flush only when necessary. 
  • You can flush with gallon jugs of bottled water if necessary, but do not use bottled water if it is or will likely be in short supply. In an emergency, bottled water is needed most for drinking, cooking and hygiene.