Tropical storms and hurricanes always bring heavy rain and winds that can create damage, as well as block roads and knock out power. Preparing for hurricane season in advance and identifying what to expect when one hits is one of the smartest things you can do, whether you need to survive in your home or build and follow ahurricane evacuation plan.
People with certain health conditions, like those that require medication, should have a safety plan in place in case an emergency strikes.
Here is how you can prepare before, during and after a storm.
How to prepare before the storm
When you find out the storm is heading your way, go ahead and prepare.
1. Know your evacuation routes.
Make sure that you have discussed or had a written evacuation plan. The National Weather Service suggests you have a plan of action mapped out in case you are pressed for time.
2. Create a home safety kit.
The Department of Homeland Security recommends you have:
- Enough water for each person to have a gallon a day
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
- First Aid Kit
- Garbage bags
- Phone chargers
- Duct tape
- Wrench or pliers
- Local map
- Manual can opener
Make sure that your safety kit is in an easy-to-locate area such as a kitchen counter or the coffee table.
3. Set up a safe room.
You should stock one room in your home with fresh water, non-perishable foods, flashlights, towels, blankets, trash bags, gloves, cleaning masks, your pet’s food, and any other necessities. With everything in this place, finding what you need during the storm or cleaning up after the fact will be much easier.
4. Be aware of your location.
The National Weather Service recommends that you “know your zone.” If you live near a dangerous structure or area like a dam or by the ocean, you should listen to safety instructions from your community and local news.
5. Prepare your medications.
If you take medications, make sure you understand how to store them in case the power goes out for a few days. Common medications and treatments like insulin and amoxicillin can be put in sandwich bags and placed in a cooler on ice, so they can remain cold, without getting wet.
If you evacuate, please take all medications with you. Be careful that some medications are temperature-sensitive and lose potency if not refrigerated. If your medication does touch the water and temperature-sensitive or not, you will want to replace that medication when you can and don’t take any pills that have become wet.
6. Take out cash and fill up a gas tank.
The NWS recommends that you need to keep hard cash on you at all times and a full tank of gas if asked to evacuate. Your safety is necessary and you might not be able to grab gas during a state of emergency, let alone use a credit card when the power goes out.
7. Take documents and protect valuables.
Photograph or scan necessary documents like driver’s licenses, social security cards, prescriptions, passports, tax statements, and other legal papers. Upload the images online for safekeeping. Store documents in a fireproof, watertight container, or take them with you. FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit has a checklist of documents you’re likely to need to claim insurance and other benefits.
Take irreplaceable keepsakes with you. Differently, move belongings with sentimental or monetary value upstairs or too high shelves to protect them from floodwaters.
8. Keep your pets safe, too
Your pets always need your help and protection during storms. Here are remarkable tips to keep your furry companion safe:
- Make sure your pet has identification.Make sure that your pet has some sort of identification on them in case you get separated during the storm. They need to have a collar or microchip with your family’s contact information on it.
- Keep your pet near.If you evacuate and you have a pet, you should find pet-friendly hotels or local animal shelters or safe kennels.
Stay safe during the storm
The rough winds, hard rain, and flying debris can be frightening, but here is what to do while you wait it out.
- Stay alert.You use your emergency radio to stay up-to-date on the storm’s progress and any additional risks it may bring to your area.
- Head to a safe part of your home.Stay away from most windows in case of flying glass.
- Keep your refrigerator cold.Turn your fridge to the coldest setting so that your food can last longer if the power goes out.
- Keep your family in the loop.When you are in a safe place, try reaching out to friends and loved ones to let everyone know you are good. Nothing is more reassuring than knowing someone is also safe.
Avoid these dangerous actions and stay safe:
- Do not touch electrical equipment and do not use the phone except in an emergency.
- Do not go outside, even if the storm may have subsided. The calm or the “eye” of the storm can pass immediately, leaving you outside when strong winds resume.
- Do not use candles during the storm, they can cause a fire. Stick with battery-operated flashlights.
- Do not walk, drive, swim through floodwaters. About six to twelve inches of water is all it takes to take you down or flood your car.
Regardless of whether you stay or leave, it is significant to unplug appliances and electronics and remove air conditioner fuses to avoid damage caused by power surges when lines and power are restored.
What to do after the storm
Be cautious when returning home or heading outside for the first time after a large storm. Mold may start to grow if there’s moisture in your home, outdoor debris can be dangerous and broken power lines mixed with water can create electrical hazards. Here are some other things to watch out for:
1. Stay clear of the generator fumes.
Getting too approaching your generator may cause you to inhale fumes risking carbon monoxide poisoning. Stay at least 15 feet away from the generator; even that is too close. Be aware of your distance.
2.Don’t drink from the tap.
Until officials have tested the water, the water may be unsafe. Refer back to your safe room for water or food to avoid getting sick. If a natural disaster affects water supply, be aware that it can cause outbreaks of salmonella, hepatitis A, E.coli or even norovirus. If necessary, put the tap water in a pot and boil it for three minutes to kill any bacteria.
3. Be careful where you step.
If there is water on the ground, be aware of any down power lines. If you step on the water that is charged by downed lines, you put yourself at risk for electrical shock.
4. Go through anything with lots of moisture.
Mold grows where there are heavy amounts of moisture. Items like pictures, books, clothes, and blankets, are breeding grounds for mold. If things look like they are moldy, throw them out just in case.
5. Be aware of mold allergies.
Be careful when opening windows, avoid re-circulating your air-conditioning or furnace and change your filters to avoid outdoor allergens.
6. Keep medication close.
Keep all medication, including asthma and allergy medication nearby, especially in case you lose power again.
While no one can predict exactly how a storm will affect a community until it hits, taking precautions is the best thing you can do to keep your family and pets safe. Following the advice of weather experts and state officials will also help you feel prepared and calm.
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