NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is predicting a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year. Like everyone in South Louisiana, we’re hoping for no reason to evacuate or much less prepare for a storm, but we know that evacuation and hurricane preparedness is our reality living in New Orleans.

We wanted to share with you our staff’s top evacuation and hurricane preparedness tips just in case a hurricane comes our way.

Tip #1 Save money when evacuating

One way to save money during an evacuation is to pack your own food. When you discover that you are in the “cone” for an incoming hurricane, use all of your frozen vegetables to make a strong soup. The soup should travel well and can be reheated later, which will cut down on your travel expenses and keep you from losing food in the freezer. — Jamie C.

Tip #2 Make your evacuation a hurri-cation!

It can be possible to actually enjoy an evacuation by turning it into a vacation! Instead of just survival planning, plan a mini-getaway that you can implement quickly. Make it fun for the entire family and look for parks, museums, historic landmarks and fun hotels. — David G

Tip #3 Never leave your pets

If you are evacuating, plan ahead and make reservations with a pet-friendly hotel. A list of hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts can be found at www.petswelcome.com. This website lists each hotel and the animals they’ll take, maximum size and the pet fee required. Leaving your pets at home can cause severe anxiety during a storm and possible heat stroke if there’s a power outage in high temperatures. –Addie L

Tip #4 Lower your thermostat

Lower your thermostat to 65 a day in advance of landfall. I did this for the last Category 1 storm. Even if the power goes out, your house will remain cool for up to about 36 hours. –Joel L

Tip #5 Monitor your freezer items

To prepare your freezer before leaving for a hurricane or severe weather, put all of your freezer items into black plastic bags. Tie the bags and place them back into the freezer. Then, in order to help you tell after the fact if everything defrosted or not, put a Dixie cup of water in the freezer, let it freeze and then put a penny on top of it. When you return, if the penny has dropped to the bottom and been refrozen, your power went out and you can then discard the black bags from your freezer or refrigerator. –Erik G

What other tips do you have that have helped you prepare for a hurricane?