It is easy to become complacent during hurricane season. We are often warned of dangerous storms that, when they come, cause little damage. However, complacency can become deadly. In 2018, Hurricane Michael reminded us of how destructive these storms can be. It is always wise to be prepared for an emergency when it does strike. Here is a list of actions that can help keep you safe during a storm.
There are several ways to stay informed about changing conditions. FEMA has an app available on iOS and Android. You can sign up for a WEA (wireless emergency alert) through the National Weather Service, and the CDC has a free email service. Whatever method you choose, stay connected. You do not want to be unaware when a hurricane hits.
Ready.gov, a government website committed to natural disaster planning, suggests a “collect, share, practice” plan with your family.
Record all relevant information onto hard copy paperwork. The paperwork should first include information on the household members. The names, addresses, and phone numbers of everyone should be added. Information on disabilities or alternative communication methods (for deaf people, for example) should be included. Medical needs should be noted as well, such as diabetes, food allergies, etc.
Information on the daytime locations of family should be included. Disaster could strike when the family is spread out at work or school, and you need to be able to contact one another.
Local communication towers could be affected by harsh weather, and it might be easier to send messages long distance. Your paperwork should include an out-of-town contact who can relay information to all parties.
Give copies of your communication plan to everyone in the household. For the little ones, find a safe place in backpacks or lunchboxes, somewhere it will not fall out or get lost. Adults should keep plans in wallets and purses, places they are not prone to losing things. If possible, print the plans on small, laminated cards to keep them sturdy.
Make sure all cellphones are programmed with emergency numbers. You can put them under “ICE (in case of emergency)” for easy access and instant identification. Create group lists that include all household members, so everyone receives the same texts. Inform children’s teachers of the emergency plan, so they can help if needed.
Have regular family meetings as hurricane season approaches, practicing the plan. You can make a game of it with the small ones. Ask them to find their emergency plans; fastest one wins! Practice using the group texts. Do run-throughs with the family, calling one another, and role-play getting a teacher’s help with the young ones.
Remember to have an emergency medical kit ready in the home. Make sure everyone knows where it is, and keep it in one place. Changing its location can cause confusion when it is needed. You will also need light sources. Candles, flashlights, and matches should be included in the kit. Regularly check and change the flashlight batteries. You do not want any failures when you need light.
A good hurricane plan prepares you for at least three days without power. Water will be an essential component of those days. Your plumbing might work without electricity, but it could be cut off as well. For three days of use, you will need gallons of water.
First, you will need enough to drink for three days. Each family member will need at least four glasses to drink a day.
Sanitation and hygiene are an issue without running water. You will need enough to brush your teeth and bathe. You may not be able to fill a bathtub, but you can prepare enough water for each family member to use a washcloth daily.
You also need to consider how much water will keep toilets running. The average tank holds about 1.6 gallons. Depending on the number of people in the home, you may need a good deal of water to keep the facilities operating.
Using three days as your standard, stockpile food. Buy non-perishables, and determine how much each person in the home needs. Focus on foods you know the household will eat. It can be difficult for small children to finish their meals at the best of times. When everyone is pulling together for survival, you need to mitigate any unnecessary strife. Be cognizant of dietary needs in the home, and avoid foods like potato chips that will make you thirsty.
You need foods that are packaged and resealable. Make sure to have self-sealing, plastic bags and can tops for leftovers. Never store the food opened or uncovered, and do not eat food from damaged packages. Keep utensils clean, and do not let trash pile up. Excessive trash is unsanitary and a fire hazard.
Suggested foods include fruit bars, protein bars, peanut butter, dry cereal, granola, fruit snacks, etc. Many foods are available in cans, including fruit, meat, pasta, vegetables, beans, and more. If any canned food looks or smells unusual, do not take a chance. Throw it away, and eat something else.
In a hurricane, winds can lift and hurl objects at immense speeds, creating deadly projectiles. You need your patio furniture stored safely indoors. Potted and suspended plants should be brought inside as well. Keep loose items away from windows.
Clear out all drains and gutters. When heavy rain comes in, it can accumulate in clogged gutters, spilling into other areas of the house. Clean drains will help keep the waterflow away from the home.
Inspect your house’s current hurricane preparedness. Ask yourself if it is ready to withstand high winds, and consider purchasing hurricane shudders for extra protection.
Inform yourself about evacuation routes in your area. Study as many as you can, because even these can be closed. When you have time, drive along these routes, familiarizing yourself with the area. Compare the time each one takes and how many could be blocked or shut down.
Go to your local officials’ websites to see which shelters are active this season. Find a few that make the most sense for you and your family, and plan your route. Keep COVID-19 precautions in mind. The pandemic is not over yet, and every household member above two years of age should have masks.
Research alternative plans, and learn the flood zones in your area. Perhaps you have a friend in a low-risk flood zone who can provide shelter. Always be prepared to flee the home if need be, but consider whether it is best to stay there. If you are fully stocked, prepared, and residing outside of a flood zone, you might be safest at home.
The most important thing you can do is plan. Know exactly where you are going and which route you are taking. Do hurricane drills with the family, and reward yourselves every time you achieve a faster time. With forethought and preparation, you and your family can stay safe during this hurricane season.
The Pittman Firm, P.A. cares about the safety and rights of Florida citizens. If you have been injured due to property damage, call us today at (850) 764-0383or contact us online. You may have options for legal compensation.