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Hurricane Matthew: 9 things to do for your family's hurricane plan

1. Determine your risk: It is important to stay informed during severe weather.

National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb posted a blog in June with some interesting comments he hears every year, including, “I’ve lived here for decades and we’ve never had a hurricane. I figure I’m good.”

What do they say afterward? “No one told me it could be this bad.”

>> Hurricane Matthew: Live updates as storm approaches the East Coast

2. Develop an evacuation plan: Review the FEMA evacuation guidelines here.   

3. Get an insurance check-up: AAA suggests that you round up your recordsfigure out flood insurance and ensure you're covered. Also, make an inventory of your assets and their values.

4. Shop for supplies: You'll need canned food, bottled water and batteries. Click here for a slideshow shopping list of things your family could use during severe weather.

>> PHOTOS: Hurricane Matthew

5. Strengthen your home: Improve the strength of your roof deck attachment, install hurricane-rated window shutters, replace a standard garage door with a hurricane-rated garage door, and secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property. Read more preparedness tips here.

6. Keep a list of emergency contact information: Learn more about making a family emergency communication plan here.

7. Fill up your gas tank.

>> Read more trending stories

8. Turn on your TV/radio or check your city/county website to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

9. Before the power goes out: Fill your bathtub with water unless you have young children. The water can be used for drinking, washing and flushing the toilet. Water supplies are often compromised by hurricanes and either become undrinkable or stop flowing.

Photos: Hurricane Matthew

Here's how to keep your pets safe during Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane season is underway. As Hurricane Matthew makes its way toward the southeast coast, here are some tips to keep your pets safe.

>> Read more trending stories

Prepare ahead for safety and comfort of your pet

Do not leave pets at home, especially if you live in an evacuation area. Even if they survive the storm, they might flee a damaged home and be lost in the chaos.

Where to take your pet

It might be difficult, if not impossible, to find shelter for your animals in the midst of a disaster, so plan ahead. Here are some options:

Related: Hurricane Matthew: Live updates as storm approaches the East Coast

Hotels: Contact hotels and motels outside your area in advance to check policies on accepting pets and restrictions on number, size and species. Ask whether “no pet” policies could be waived. Keep a list of “pet-friendly” places, including phone numbers, with other disaster information. For an impending storm, call ahead for reservations. The Humane Society of the United States recommends the following websites to find pet-friendly lodgings.

Friends and relatives: Ask friends, relatives or others outside the area if they can shelter your animals. Make arrangements with neighbors to help evacuate pets in the event you can’t get home.

Pet-friendly shelters: Find out if pets will be permitted at an evacuation shelter.

Related: Photos: 14 essential tips to keep your pets safe during hurricane season

Other tips

Vaccinate your pet

If you haven’t already done so, get those shots now. Infectious diseases can become a big threat after a disaster.

Get your pet an ID tag

If a pet becomes lost or escapes during the confusion of an evacuation, proper identification will increase the chances of a safe return home. Tag should include your cell number and, if space allows, the number of an out-of-town contact. Consider having your pet tattooed or ‘microchipped.’

Get a pet carrier

You will need a pet carrier or cage for each dog, cat, bird or small animal. Make sure it is large enough for each pet to stand up and turn around comfortably.

Have photos of your pet

Take clear, color photos (frontal, left and right sides) of you with your pet, and store these with your pet’s license, medical records and ownership papers in a waterproof carrier to take with you. Include pictures of the pet with you to help with any challenge to your ownership. Take photos with your cellphone so they’re stored there as well.

Set up a pet disaster kit

Put together a pet disaster kit with medications and medical records in a waterproof container, a leash and collar or harness for each pet, non-spill food and water dishes, a 14-day supply of food, water in non-breakable containers, a manual can opener, grooming supplies, your pet’s blanket and a favorite toy, cleanser and disinfectant to handle waste, newspapers or litter, paper towels and plastic bags.

President Obama declares emergency in Florida

Hurricane Matthew: Live updates as storm exits East Coast

Hurricane Matthew weakened late Saturday after pummeling North Carolina, leaving damage and flooded streets as it slowly moved out to sea as a post-tropical cyclone.

>> Related: Watch livestream video around the coast as Matthew approaches | PHOTOS

Matthew reached the coast as a Category 3 hurricane on Friday. The designation means winds were measured between 111 and 129 mph and the storm – although weakened from the Category 4 hurricane it was as it spun through the Caribbean – had the capacity to cause devastating damage.

In a release, the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center warned that homes and buildings in Central Florida "may be uninhabitable for weeks or months."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory have declared states of emergency. President Barack Obama declared a federal state of emergency in Georgia early Friday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, joining South Carolina and Florida.

Follow along with our live updates:

<iframe src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/a4d2a317fc7f73a56293b3412c8b4375/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/a4d2a317fc7f73a56293b3412c8b4375.js?header=none&amp;border=false"></script>[View the story "Hurricane Matthew: Storm approaches the East coast" on Storify]

Americans are more divided than ever on climate change

Americans are more divided than ever when it comes to the causes and solutions to climate change.

According to a new survey, people's views regarding the subject are largely shaped by their chosen political party, not by their scientific knowledge.

>> Read more trending stories  

Of the more than 1,500 people the Pew Research Center surveyed, 36 percent said they are deeply concerned about climate change.

Democrats accounted for a little more than 70 percent of that group, while only about 25 percent of Republicans thought the same.

The differences get more striking from there. Close to 80 percent of liberal Democrats said they believe climate change is primarily caused by human activity.

Almost 85 percent of conservative Republicans thought otherwise, even though the vast majority of scientists agree that humans are to blame.

Scientists say climate change has increased global temperatures 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880 and that carbon dioxide levels in the air are the highest they've been in hundreds of thousands of years.

How to protect yourself from price gouging during Hurricane Matthew

There are always people who look to profit from emergency situations.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office has information on price gouging during a state of emergency and how residents can protect themselves ahead of Hurricane Matthew's landfall.

>> PHOTOS: Hurricane Matthew

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for all of Florida Monday in preparation for the hurricane. 

Price gouging is selling essential commodities, dwelling units or self-storage facilities “for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency,” the Attorney General's Office said.

>> 5 hacks to keep your smartphone charged during a power outage

Essential commodities include food, ice, gas and lumber, the office said.

Non-essential items, including alcohol and cigarettes, are not covered under Florida price-gouging statutes.

"Florida consumers need to be diligent during this state of emergency to ensure they do not become victims of price gouging," Attorney General Pam Bondi said. "Taking advantage of consumers during a declared state of emergency is not only reprehensible, it is illegal and will not be tolerated."

>> 'Creepy' skull satellite image of Hurricane Matthew has people freaking out

Those found in violation of Florida price gouging statutes can be fined $1,000 per violation and up to $25,000 for multiple violations during the same 24-hour period. 

To avoid being a victim of price gouging during an emergency, the Attorney General's Office recommends being prepared ahead of time.

>> Central Florida cruises rerouted because of Hurricane Matthew

To help avoid price gouging, have the following items on hand:

  • 5 gallons of drinking water per person in your household
  • At least two working flashlights
  • A portable radio
  • A telephone with a cord. If the electrical power is lost, a cordless telephone will not work
  • An ample supply of batteries to power those and other items
  • A full tank of propane and charcoal if you have a charcoal grill
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Formula and diapers, if you have young children in the home

Though not essential, board games, books and playing cards are also recommended to pass the time during a storm or other emergency, the office said.

>> Read more trending stories

Residents who believe that they have been the victim of price gouging can call the Attorney General’s price gouging hotline at 866-966-7226 or visit myfloridalegal.com.

What to do at an intersection when the power goes out

It’s a potentially dangerous situation: The power goes out, traffic signals go dark and drivers are left bewildered at intersections.

This scenario confuses even experienced people who have been driving for decades. Even lifelong Floridians, who should be familiar with power outage scenarios, can be flustered.

Do you stop? Keep driving? What if the signals are off completely — or what if they’re flashing?

Here are a few things to remember — thanks to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles driver license handbook and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — if you find yourself in this position.

>> Read the latest on Hurricane Matthew 

What to do if the traffic signal is off

Treat the intersection as a four-way stop. If you arrive at the same time as another car — or even two other cars — the car farthest to the right goes first.

If four cars approach at the same time, the car that comes to a complete stop first is the first to go, then the car to the right, and so on in a counterclockwise rotation.

This may not always work. In that case, right-of-way goes first to a car traveling straight, then a car turning right, then a car turning left.

>>Photos: Hurricane Matthew

What to do if the traffic signal is flashing

If your signal is flashing yellow, you may proceed through the intersection without stopping. But do so carefully. Keep in mind that other motorists may be confused. Be prepared to stop if necessary.

If your signal is flashing red, you must bring your car to a complete stop before traveling through the intersection.

>>Hurricane Matthew: Live updates

Key tips to keep in mind

NHTSA offers these tips to help you remember who has the right of way:

• First to stop = first to go: The first car to the intersection is the first to travel through.

• Farthest right goes first.

• Traffic going straight goes first.

• When in doubt, bail out: If you are unsure of who should go first, let other traffic move through first until you feel it’s safe to travel through.

Sources: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration; Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles driver license handbook

5 hacks to keep your smartphone charged during a power outage

A smartphone can be a lifeline in a storm, but it's useless without power. Fortunately, there's never been more ways to keep a smartphone juiced up

Here are some easy ways to keep your phone in the green if you lose power: 

>> PHOTOS: Hurricane Matthew

1. Charge up every laptop in your home. If you lose power, turn a laptop on (but don't unlock the screen) and use your iPhone or Android cable to charge your phone via the USB ports. Most newer laptops can charge a smartphone multiple times. 

>> 'Creepy' skull satellite image of Hurricane Matthew has people freaking out

2. Keep your phone on "Low Power Mode." This setting will use far less juice. On an iPhone, go to "Settings," scroll down to "Battery" and turn on "Low Power Mode." On an Android, swipe down from the top menu and find the "Power Saving" icon. 

3. Use your car to charge your phone. Most newer cars have a USB port – or two. Even if your car is out of fuel, you can turn it on and charge it using the car battery. It's a last resort, but if you have a newer car battery, it will charge a phone multiple times easily.

>> Central Florida cruises rerouted because of Hurricane Matthew

4. Buy an external charger if you don't have one; most drug stores have them. Portable smartphone battery chargers are getting better and less expensive. Most drug store chains have them near the counter, but you will pay more for the convenience. But if you need one right now, that is a good place to look. 

Companies such as Anker and Aukey sell high-quality, high capacity chargers on Amazon. Consider buying one before the next storm. Some of the new one have capacities approaching 30,000 mAh, which is enough to charge an phone over five times. 

>> Read more trending stories

5. Still have power but want to charge a phone quickly without using a wall socket? Plug it into the USB port on your TV. Most newer TVs have one. 

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