WEDNESDAY, Oct. 5, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- As Hurricane Matthew lumbered toward the east coast of Florida Wednesday, millions of residents scrambled to prepare for the dangerous storm.
The exact path that the Category 3 hurricane will take in the next few days isn't clear yet. But the sheer size of the storm means a huge swath of people have flocked to get water, food, gas and other supplies so they are ready if their area takes a direct hit, the Associated Press reported.
Matthew is showing sustained winds of 125 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported Wednesday. And while maximum winds have decreased slightly since Tuesday, some strengthening is expected by Thursday and Friday.
According to the U.S. National Weather Service, Matthew could make landfall somewhere in south or central Florida, or it could slide up the east coast of the state before heading north.
"The time to prepare is now. Residents in potentially affected areas should learn their evacuation routes and monitor weather conditions," said W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly.
"Follow instructions of state, local and tribal officials, and make sure you're taking steps to prepare your home, family or business," Fugate said in an agency statement.
In advance of Matthew's arrival, FEMA offers these safety tips:
- If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) and have a plan for where you can stay.
- Put together a disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate.
- If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads.
- Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
- Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debristo prevent water damage to your property.
- Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Keep generators at least 20 feet away from windows and doors.
- Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
- Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting, and open only when necessary. That way, if you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to check the food temperature when the power is restored.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more tips on preparing for a hurricane.