With hurricane season underway, now is the prefect time to become prepared and create a plan in the event of a hurricane. While many families grasp the monstrous effects a hurricane causes, they may be ill-prepared.
Review the following safety tips and guidelines for taking care of your household before, during, and after a storm.
Create a Disaster Plan
A plan will ensure that in case of a disaster, you and your family are prepared not only physically but also mentally. (See: Disaster Handbook and Florida Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards (pdf)).
Gather and Share Information
Meet with the members of your household for the following:
- Discuss the type of potential hazards and how you will respond to them.
- Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind.
- Locate the areas in your home safest from hurricane hazards.
- Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet.
- Establish a specific meeting place that is a safe distance from your home and neighborhood in case you cannot return home.
- Choose an out-of-state friend as a contact, so all family members get in touch with the same person in case of separation.
Meet with Neighbors
- Find out neighbors’ skills and/or special needs.
- Arrange child care plans in case parents cannot get home.
Other Planning Measures
- Check your insurance coverage—flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance.
- Keep important documents (e.g. birth certificates, wills, insurance policies, passports, social security cards) in containers that are waterproof, fireproof, and portable.
- Prepare a disaster supplies kit.
- Use a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its battery every six months, as you do with your smoke detectors.
- If you are not be able to bring your pet along during an evacuation, make plans for pets to stay at a veterinary clinic, kennel, or other appropriate facility.
- Empower your household—every member of the home can help prepare for a disaster.
- Post emergency numbers next to every house int he phone.
- Show capable family members how to shut off gas, electricity, and water.
- Be sure someone in the family knows how to give CPR. Contact your local Red Cross chapter for information and training.
- Look around your home for electrical, chemical, and fire hazards. Check fire safety equipment—smoke detectors and fire extinguishers—regularly. Look for items that could shift or fall, especially during disasters. Know your home’s escape routes.
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit
In case of evacuation, keep these supplies in an easy-to-carry container, such as a camping backpack or a duffle bag.
- Water. A three- to seven-day supply of at least one gallon of water per person per day, stored in food-grade containers. Be sure to empty, rinse, and refill these containers every six months if the kit is being stored. Include water purification supplies in your kit.
- Food. A two-week supply of non-perishable, packaged or canned food and juices that require little or no cooking and no refrigeration. Include snacks and any specific foods required by infants or the elderly. Other additions: a non-electric can opener, paper plates, plastic utensils, and a portable stove with fuel if necessary.
- Bedding. Blankets and pillows, especially if you stay at a shelter. One sleeping bag per person should also be included.
- Clothing. At least one full change of clothes per person. Clothes should be seasonal/temperature appropriate. Also pack rain gear and a pair of sturdy shoes.
- First Aid Kit. Required medicines and prescription drugs (check expiration dates), sunscreen, insect repellent, pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, and other basic first aid supplies such as bandages, scissors, tweezers, and antiseptic.
- Special Items. Items required for babies, the elderly, or anyone with special needs in your family or group.
- Toiletries. Toilet paper, moisture wipes, feminine supplies, insect repellent, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, liquid detergent, and other personal hygiene items. For sanitation, include plastic garbage bags and ties, a plastic bucket with a tight lid, disinfectant, and bleach (unscented).
- Radio. Regular or NOAA weather radio with extra batteries. Note: Regular AM/FM radios do not pick up NOAA emergency broadcasts.
- Telephones. A fully charged cell phone (that has been activated via a wireless provider) with an extra battery.
- Money. Cash (some in small bills) and traveler’s checks, credit cards. (ATMs and banks may not be operational.)
- Tools and Supplies. A flashlight and extra batteries, a utility knife, a tent, pliers, tape, a compass, matches in a waterproof container, aluminum foil, plastic storage containers, a signal flare, and paper/pencil.
- Pet Care. Pet carrier, leashes, collars, recent photo and pet identification, medications, and muzzles (if necessary).
- Miscellaneous. An extra set of keys, books, games.
Secure Your Home
The most important precaution you can take to reduce damage to your home is by protecting and reinforcing these critical areas:
- Garage Doors
National Flood Insurance Program
Flood damage is not usually covered by standard homeowners insurance. Check your policy and be sure your home is insured.
During a Hurricane Watch
- Listen to a radio or television for storm reports (have a working, battery-operated radio nearby).
- Check emergency supplies (especially water and food) and put your disaster kit in an easily accessible location.
- Fill up your car’s fuel tank.
- Bring in outdoor objects, such as lawn furniture, and anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
- Secure buildings and board-up windows. Remove outside antennas.
- Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.
- Review evacuation plan.
For more information, review “During the Disaster” in theDisaster Handbook.
Adapted and excerpted from:
The Disaster Handbook, UF/IFAS Extension (rev. 11/03).
Photo Credits: Stocktrek Images/Stocktrek Images/Thinkstock