Hurricane season creates tension and curiosity. The tension occurs because of the potential damage that the wind and waves can create. The curiosity comes with the wonder of where the hurricanes will strike. Hurricanes have become personified by the weather prognosticators who bravely try to predict their routes and statistics. No matter how you feel when it comes to hurricane season, it is important to be prepared for the reality of the intense storms. Hurricane preparedness can make the difference between life and death. It doesn’t take much to create a plan that covers the variety of situations that can arise when a hurricane hits where you live.
Hurricane preparedness involves several situations. Depending on the severity of the hurricane, people who live in the zones might have to evacuate for an unknown amount of time. Fortunately, meteorologists and their technology are getting better at predicting the route of hurricanes. This gives residents of hurricane-prone areas time to prepare. But there are still unknowns in the world of weather predictions. So, it is important to be prepared for evacuations and for hunkering down and staying in place through the storm.
It is helpful to be prepared for the following issues that can result from hurricane damage:
- Food shortages
- Power outages
- Lack of emergency services
- Wind damage
- Lack of utilities
- Lack of transportation
All of these issues require a few different tasks that should be completed in advance of any hurricane warnings. For people who live in hurricane zones, preparation for a food shortage and utilities shortage should be ongoing. It is very easy to stock up on nonperishable food. It is also important that homeowners have the right equipment like hurricane shutters and prefilled sandbags to help minimize damage. Homeowners should also stock up on items like plastic bags, matches, water bottles, batteries, and charcoal.
Step 1: Food Preparation
The first thing that people in hurricane zones should do is have a stash of food. It is best to build up the stash of food over time, not the night before a hurricane is scheduled to make landfall. What you should be doing the day before landfall is cooking your frozen foods and meats so you can freeze and be able to eat them without having to worry about using your oven. If the power goes out, those pre-cooked, frozen foods will help keep other food cold and they can be eaten safely. It is also important to keep an eye on the canned foods that you are stockpiling for such an occasion; be sure the expiration dates have not passed. Remember that the fuller your freezer is, the longer it will stay cold – so pack it tightly.
When you buy canned food, be sure it is food that does not need to have liquids added to it. It is also important to have a variety of options, like proteins, carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables. If you live close to the coast, it is a good idea to move your food to a high spot in your home; especially if your food is in the basement. Storm surges can cause flooding and make it difficult to get into lower floors. Since the power often goes out for a few days after a hurricane, it is a good idea to have charcoal or propane so you can grill your foods. While you are buying food, don’t forget your pets.
Step 2: Water Preparation
It is also vitally important to have enough water. Bottled water is plentiful, but not the day before a hurricane is scheduled to make landfall. This is why it is a good idea to buy a few cases of water whenever you find it on sale. Leave the water in secure place so you can safely get to it in case of an emergency. It is also helpful to make as much ice as you can before hurricanes hit. Empty two-liter bottles make good ice bottles and many people will fill up plastic bags with ice from their freezers. Add a bag or two each week of the year and you will have plenty by the time hurricane season hits. One more good source of water is the bathtub, so fill all of the ones in your home before the hurricane strikes.
Step 3: Health Needs
Once you have your food and water taken care of, you and your family’s health needs are next. As soon as you are aware that a hurricane could strike, you should be sure that you check your prescription medications. You should have at least ten days worth of supplies – possibly even more. If you do not, be sure to get your refills.
It is also a good idea to check your first aid kit. Be sure you have plenty of bandages, pain relievers, antibiotic creams, latex gloves, face masks, and other necessities. You never know if you will be able to get to a medical center or if an ambulance will be able to get to you in case of an emergency.
Step 4: Safety and Supplies
Along with food and health, safety is important. So, be sure that your vital electronics are working. Be sure that you have a working radio and a good supply of batteries. It is also helpful to have a few portable power sticks for your cell phone. Make sure that you have flashlights in convenient locations and that you have batteries for them, too. Having candles on hand is another good idea. If you plan to use a generator, be sure that you have gasoline in proper containers and have your extension cords ready to go.
For safety purposes, it is also helpful to have cash, because that will be more valuable than credit cards if the power is out for a while. Anything that you have outside can become a dangerous projectile, so bring all of your patio furniture, lawn decorations, and play toys inside to protect your safety and the safety of anyone in your vicinity.
Step 5: Evacuation Plans
If you plan to evacuate, it is important to be prepared to leave quickly. To keep your home safe, know where the shutoff valves are for the water and the gas so you can quickly turn those off just before you leave. Put your hurricane shutters over your windows. Put a traditional map in your car and load your car with plenty of food, water, and blankets. It is also a good idea to put your valuables in high places in your home; plastic bags, sealed plastic totes, and dry bags are good places to put important paper, photographs, and other valuable that cannot be replaced. If you are evacuating, be sure that you have your important papers like Social Security cards, photo ids, and insurance information. And don’t forget about your pets. If you do leave, let someone in your neighborhood know where you are going.
In the event that a hurricane does strike, you will be grateful that you took the time to be prepared. When hurricanes are forecasted, many people go into panic mode and they often rush grocery and convenience stores. If you are properly prepared, you do not have to get involved in the mad rush to gather what food is remaining. You will also be ready for the aftermath, whether you evacuate or you stay in your home. Mother Nature is a powerful force; but with the right preparations, you can remain safe and comfortable before, during, and after a hurricane.