Hurricane Irene is barreling down on the U.S., a monster storm packing winds of more than 100 miles per hour as it batters the Bahamas. In the next few days, the storm could hit the Outer Banks of North Carolina, or even the Mid-Atlantic and New England states.
The storm will disrupt lives. Millions of people could be affected.
Don't wait until the last minute to get ready. Now is the time to make preparations to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Here are tips and resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency:
Be aware of the latest weather forecast.
Make sure you have plenty of cash on hand in case your area loses power, causing ATM machines and banks to close down as well.
Make a plan for your family, business and property.
Assemble a disaster preparedness kit stocked with critical supplies, including important documents and medications. Click HERE to see a list of the items you should put in your kit.
Purchase flood insurance in advance of the storm.
Visit www.ready.gov for the latest hurricane news and preparedness tips from FEMA.
The National Weather Service suggests you have a plan for your beloved family pets, and determine safe areas inside your home, as well as escape routes if flooding turns dangerous.
Your smartphone could be your most valuable tool during or after a hurricane, with dozens of apps available to provide crucial information.
Here's a list of some of the available apps. Click on the links for download information.
FEMA's mobile Web site provides answers to the agency's most-often asked questions, and includes a graphic showing the flood risk in the specific area where you live.
Hurricane HD: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch. $3.99
Hurricane HD lets you track storms, with moving radar and satellite imagery from the National Hurricane center. It provides tropical bulletins, forecasts, and advisories for the Atlantic and Pacific Basins.
You can watch video updates for storms currently underway or forming, and find data on major storms of the past, such as hurricanes Andrew, Hugo and Katrina.
The Weather Channel: iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Android. Free
The Weather Channel has fully customizable weather maps, animated radar maps, detailed weather conditions and forecasts, severe weather alerts, and a notification bar with the current temperature and severe weather alert indicator.
It allows you to get weather forecasts for your location or search by city, ZIP code, street address or landmark. The app also includes interactive maps that are fully customizable and feature the functionality of Google Maps. Customers can decide to display layers such as radar, clouds, UV index, rainfall and more.
Global Alert Network: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android BlackBerry. Free
The Global Alert Network is a location-aware network platform that automatically broadcasts audible hands-free alerts to mobile devices. You choose to subscribe to weather or traffic alerts, which are geo-targeted to your location.
Click HERE to learn more about the other available storm-tracking apps.
Click HERE to track the current progress of Hurricane Irene.
Click HERE for a list of useful storm preparedness resources and websites.