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East Coast Urged to Prepare as Hurricane Irene Approaches

THURSDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Federal officials on Thursday continued to urge residents of the U.S. East Coast to make emergency preparations for Hurricane Irene, a "category 3" storm with winds up to 115 miles per hour.

The current forecast places the center of Irene just off the North Carolina/Virginia coast on Saturday and over New England by Monday morning, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.

Federal officials say Irene could cause flooding and power outages as far north as Maine.

All residents should take steps to be prepared and ensure their safety, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.

Steps include putting together an emergency kit with 72 hours' worth of food and water, developing a family communications plan, and listening to the radio or TV for information about risks and evacuations.

Among other federal government recommendations if the hurricane is likely to strike your area:

  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
  • Close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors. If you don't have shutters, board up windows with 5/8-inch marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Putting tape on windows does not prevent them from breaking.
  • To reduce roof damage, install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters so they won't overflow.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • If you have a boat, moor it.
  • Turn off utilities if told to do so. Otherwise, set the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest level and keep its door(s) closed.

People should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are told to do so by local authorities. Follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure.
  • If y

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