Disaster Preparedness: Hurricane
There is a storm brewing and all weather models point to your town. Now what? With information, plans, and supplies, you can be prepared to "weather the storm" – whether that means staying put or getting the heck out of Dodge. The first step is understanding the weather conditions in your area. A Hurricane Watch means hurricane conditions are a threat within 48 hours. A Hurricane Warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours.
A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
Planning is key. During a hurricane watch, it's time to put a plan in action. Think about what needs to be done if you evacuate the area or if you remain. Think about what supplies you need and what safeguards are necessary for your home, family, and pets. Here are a few first steps:
- Decide where you will go if evacuation is recommended. Do you need to make arrangements for a hotel/motel or to stay with family or friends out of harm's way? Staying at a shelter may also be an option.
- Prepare your disaster supply kit with water, food, tools and supplies, sanitation items, and any special needs items required to keep your family healthy, such as baby formula, diapers, medicine, etc. For a detailed guide to building a disaster supply kit, visit the American Red Cross website:
- Purchase supplies needed to reinforce your home, such as plywood, duct tape, fasteners, storm shutters, etc.
- Consider arrangements for your pets. Most shelters will not allow pets. If you can't take them with you, contact your local vet, SPCA, or Humane Society for options regarding alternate care.
- Gather copies of important personal documents and family and emergency contact information.
- Register special needs family members (such as home bound with a medical condition) with local emergency authorities in case evacuation assistance is needed. Also, most local utility companies will prioritize service to special/medical needs homes. If this applies to you, contact your power company before the storm to ensure you are on the priority list.
As the Storm Approaches
Stay Informed. Listen for weather updates via television, Internet, or radio. A battery-powered, solar, or hand-crank NOAA AM/FM weather alert radio is recommended in case of power outages.
Be ready to move. If you have a vehicle, fill the gas tank and check all fluids. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and the vehicle is ready to be packed quickly, if necessary.
Fortify your home. A few simple steps can make all the difference in preventing damage to your home.
- Board up your windows. Most damage to homes occurs from wind and rain as a result of broken windows. The majority of injuries in a hurricane are from flying glass or other debris.
- Remove loose objects from your yard that could be tossed by the wind (wood, toys, lawn furniture, planters, grills, etc.)
- Secure recreational vehicles such as boats and campers.
- Fill swimming pools and super-chlorinate the water. Cover pump and filtration systems and intakes.
So, you've decided to stick it out. If staying home is the best course of action, food and water safety is a priority. Be prepared to possibly go without utilities for several days.
- Prepare containers for storing water. A minimum of one gallon per person per day for seven days is recommended.
- Stock your pantry with a week's supply of non-perishable foods and keep a non-electric can opener handy. Set your freezer and refrigerator to the coldest settings and minimize opening them.
- Finalize and double-check your disaster supply kit.
- Unplug small appliances and turn off propane tanks.
- Stay away from windows and remain under braced areas in the interior of your home as much as possible during heavy weather.
- Don't venture out until you have official word that the danger has passed. A break in the weather may be the storm's eye and not an indication that the storm is over.
It's go time. If an evacuation is ordered, develop an evacuation plan with members of your household, including communication strategies, meeting places, and contingency plans.
- Review your community's hurricane response plan and routes to local shelters. If you have family members with special medical needs, contact your health care agency or physician for advice on evacuation, and identify the nearest hospital in the area to which you are being evacuated.
- Follow orders regarding evacuation times for your area and routes, and do your part to ensure evacuation goes smoothly for all involved.
Visit these sites for more information on disaster preparedness:
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