Hurricane season is underway, and this year has already been more active than usual, with hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and José causing widespread devastation in Texas, Florida and many Caribbean islands. Hurricane season is far from over, as it will not officially end until November 30th and we are currently in its peak. If you live in a coastal region, it is essential that you are prepared in case a hurricane impacts your area. Here are some important steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.
When a hurricane warning is put in effect for your area, begin to stock your home as soon as possible, as supplies may run out if you wait too long. Make sure to buy plenty of canned and non-perishable foods, a can-opener, plenty of water – a gallon per person for each day – first aid supplies, and extra flashlights and batteries.
Be sure to get prescriptions filled, to fill up your vehicles’ gas tanks, and to withdraw extra cash in case the banks and ATMs close. And don’t forget your pets – stock up on gallons of water and extra food and treats for them, too. You will also want to have all your important documents in one place in case you are told to evacuate.
While many people rely on their Smartphones these days, there is the chance that you will lose electricity and wireless connections. As added precautions, you may want to buy paper road maps and an NOAA weather radio with batteries so you can remain updated on the situation if your wireless fails.
Know Your Evacuation Plan
If a hurricane is predicted to affect your area, there is the possibility that you will be told to evacuate. Make sure to have an evacuation plan in place in the event this should happen. Decide on where you will go, whether that is to an emergency shelter, a hotel, or a family member or friend’s house.
Be sure that you know what route you will take to get there, as well as alternate routes if you run into traffic or inclement weather. The roads are likely to become congested with evacuees, so it is best to leave as soon as possible.
Always choose caution and heed evacuation orders, even if you feel your home is secure. When it comes to severe weather conditions, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you should need to leave your home, make sure to bring your emergency food, water and supplies with you.
It is best to be indoors when the winds and rain begin to pick up, preferably in a secure room without windows. If you should be caught outside or in your car when the storm hits, stay away from beaches, rivers and waterways and avoid areas that are likely to become flooded. These include underpasses, dips, and low spots in the road.
Don’t attempt to drive through flooded areas, as water can get into your car engine and two feet or more of water can even float a car. If you are walking, try to avoid floodwater, as it may be contaminated or might be powerful enough to sweep you off your feet. If you are caught out in the storm, seek shelter as soon as possible.
Listen to the Updates
Stay informed on the latest developments and updates on the situation. Tune into local radio and news stations as well as alerts on your Smartphone. A portable weather radio with battery or a crank-up options is a very good device to have on hand in case you lose electricity or your wireless connection.
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards is a national network of radio stations that continuously sends updates from your nearest National Weather Center office. With a weather radio, you can tune in to all the latest updates on the storm. They can easily be purchased online or in an electronics store.
Wait for the All Clear
Weather conditions may appear to improve, but it is important to remain indoors until you are informed that the storm has passed. The winds and rain may appear to subside, but there is a chance that the storm remains active in your area. Even after the storm passes, make sure to proceed with caution when you are able to go outside again. There are likely to be areas of extensive flooding and damage, and it is best to avoid such areas.
Be aware of downed power lines, which may still be active, as well as falling trees and branches. The damage caused by hurricanes can be devastating, and the clean up efforts may take a long time. Your area also may be without power or water, so you may need to rely on your emergency provisions for a few days until work crews repair the damage.
These are just some of the many things you can do if a hurricane warning is put into effect in your area. Another handy resource is this hurricane safety checklist distributed by the Red Cross that is an easy way to stay on track as you prepare to weather out the storm.
What are some of the things you do to prepare when a hurricane hits your area? Please leave a comment below and let us know how you keep yourself and your family safe.