Hurricane Season: How to Prepare
Unfortunately, it is that time of year again – hurricane season. And this time around things are shaping up to potentially create a storm season with a record number of tropical storms and hurricanes. So here are some basic tips and guidelines for making sure you, and your home, are as prepared as possible for a major storm.
If Possible – Get Out
If it is at all possible the best thing you can do to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones is to remove yourselves from the immediate path of the hurricane. You don’t necessarily have to go far away, but clearing out from the main path of a storm that could destroy property and shut down access to basic necessities like clean water and electricity is the smart thing to do. Potential storm surges and flooding can make staying very dangerous. Of course, not everyone can afford to leave. If that is the case there are some steps you can take to maximize your chance of getting through a hurricane safely.
It is important to stock up on medicines, bottled water and long-lasting, ready-to-eat canned and dry goods. If you stay, and your home remains intact without suffering any significant damage, you may still be without power for several days or weeks. That can mean no cooking and no way to store food that requires refrigeration. Public water supplies might become contaminated and you’ll need clean water; the recommendation is one gallon per person per day- and don’t forget about your pets! You should also make sure you have disposable plates, napkins and utensils and a non-electric can opener.
With high winds and heavy rains, it is important to properly secure the outside of your residence so things don’t fly or float away and inadvertently cause more damage. Move any outdoor furniture to a safe location, whether that is in the garage, a storage shed or tied down by a corner of your home. Take down any small, lightweight items such as flags, bird feeders, and wind chimes. Depending on your location and property’s elevation you may want to consider stocking up on sandbags in case of flooding. Throughout the year, trim and maintain trees and bushes to help keep wayward limbs from breaking off. Boarding over windows or, if you have them, securely closing shutters may be necessary as well.
If power is down for several days or longer, you will not be able to use your phone for keeping in touch or checking on updates. You should have a battery powered radio on hand with extra batteries to at least keep up-to-date on the current state of the storm. Plus, it will give you some music to pass the time with. You can also take the extra step and invest in a generator to be able to keep some items powered up, but they are only a stop gap for a short period of time. Regardless of make and model, most one to two gallon gas generators can last 8 to 10 hours.
Keeping a well-stocked first aid kit should be a priority year-round, but it is especially important to have during a natural disaster such as a hurricane. Basic items to have on hand include band-aids of all sizes, gauze and medical tape, a pain reliever like ibuprofen or aspirin, antibacterial wipes or gel, tweezers, oral thermometer, and non-latex gloves. A battery-powered flashlight with extra batteries or a hand-cranked flashlight can be kept with the medical supplies as well, so you’ll always know where it is.
A hurricane is an unpredictable natural disaster of large proportions, there is no way to be completely prepared for everything. It can be useful to have copies of important documents such as birth certificates, deeds, passports, insurance papers, social security cards and bank account numbers in a fire and water proof container. Write down your important online account login information to keep in there as well.
Have a Plan
Something else to consider is having a plan in place so everyone knows what to do as soon as news of a potential storm comes forth. Communication is key; making sure everyone knows what to expect and where to be will help keep everyone safe and calm during the initial preparations.
There’s no telling how devastating the repercussions of a hurricane could be. Weather forecasting can predict a lot these days, but ultimately the numerous factors that go into creating a tropical storm or hurricane are varied and constantly changing. Listen to warnings and watches and take heed of the recommendations from your local government and the National Weather Service. And remember- homes and things can be replaced so make the safety of yourself and your loved ones the priority.