The best time to prepare your personal emergency plan and make sure it is up to date is before you need it. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some easy ways to be prepared for the next hurricane:
The first step to being prepared for a Hurricane is to know the common terms used in forecasts. A “Watch” means that a hurricane or tropical storm are possible. A “Warning” means that the storm is expected. Hurricane warnings usually are issued 36 hours in advance of tropical storm force winds.
The eye of the storm is a clear, sometimes well-defined center of the storm. While there are calmer conditions in the eye, this doesn’t mean the storm is over. The area surrounding the eye is where some of the most severe weather is with the highest wind speed and largest precipitation.
Rain bands come off the storm and produce severe weather conditions, such as heavy rain, wind, and even tornadoes. A storm surge is the result of ocean water swelling as a result of the storm. This causes quick floods on the coast and even sometimes further inland.
Once you understand the terms, the next step is to prepare your home and an evacuation plan. We’ll cover evacuation plans later.
Preparing your home can be done in three steps:
ONE: Create your hurricane kit (plan for at least 3 days)
- Non-perishable food
- First-aid kit (including prescription medications)
- Personal hygiene items and sanitation items
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Battery operated radio with extra batteries
- Waterproof container with cash and important documents
- Manual can opener
- Lighter or Matches
- Books, magazines, games
- Special needs: Pet supplies, baby supplies
- Cooler & ice packs
TWO: Secure your home.
- Cover all of your windows with either hurricane shutters or wood. Tape does not prevent the window from breaking
- Secure straps or clips to fasten your roof to the structure of your home
- Trip all trees and shrubs and clear rain gutters
- Reinforce garage doors
- Bring in outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations…in other words, if it’s not tied down, bring it in!
THREE: Prepare for power outages.
- Make sure your gas tank is full far in advance of an approaching storm. Make sure you have enough for cars and generators well in advance: otherwise, the gas station may run out before you get yours
- Have extra cash on hand in case ATMs don’t work
- Charge your cell phone, have backup chargers charged, and limit cell phone use after power is out
- Cover up windows on the inside in order to reduce the need for Air Conditioning
- Fill your bathtub and large containers for washing and flushing only
- Follow this guide for food safety: https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/food-safety-during-power-outage
- Follow this guide if your power goes out: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/poweroutage/index.html
Finally, remember the cycle of a hurricane: Approach, Arrival, and Aftermath. We advise you follow this guide and listen to the officials for directions. Remember to plan ahead for evacuation, and if you’re advised you need to go: follow the plan!
How to evacuate:
- Plan how you will leave and where you will go.
- Check which shelter spaces are available for the year. Be warned: Covid-19 might have changed your community’s plans!
- If you evacuate to a community shelter, follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People over 2 years old should use a cloth facial covering. Be sure you bring face coverings, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, or even household cleaning supplies. Also, be sure to maintain at least 6 feet between you and those not in your immediate family.
- Identify several places you could go in an emergency, just in case space in shelters are limited.If you have a pet, make sure your evacuation plan includes them. Most public shelters only allow service pets.
- Take your pets.
- Be familiar with alternate routes away from your area.
- Come up with a plan in case your family gets separated.
- Prepare a bag with supplies: snacks, cleaning supplies, games, etc.
- If you have a car, make sure there’s a full tank of gas if evacuation seems likely. Otherwise, keep a half a tank minimum. Make sure you have a portable emergency kit in the car. If you don’t have a car, plan how you will evacuate if needed.
- Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions, and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there’s a risk of flooding.
- Leave a note telling others where you are going and when you left.
- Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provide protection.
- Check with neighbors: they might need a ride!
- Watch for road hazards and don’t drive into flooded areas.
- When you return, please remember: only use generators outside and away from your home!