How to prepare for a Hurricane

Hurricanes can damage property and shutter lives, so you must be prepared to minimize the impact of the storm. The swirling winds travel at 74 mph and may be accompanied by heavy rain. While hurricanes form over ocean waters, they can also strike the land.

According to the national weather service, the hurricane season in the Caribbean starts in June and ends in November. If you wait for a hurricane watch to be issued, it may be too late to take precautions. Therefore, those people who live in areas affected by hurricanes must take personal responsibility and be prepared. This could mean saving lots of money in home damage repairs or even lives.

Preparing for the hurricane before and after the storm

One of the smartest things you can ever do is to create a hurricane evacuation plan. While the local government will give instructions on what to do, you should know in advance where you can take shelter.

Where to go

If you’re ordered to evacuate, you should have a plan in place on where you should stay. Never ignore an order from the local authorities. Sometimes, even well-built houses may not survive a hurricane. That being said, staying at home to protect the property is not worth risking your health. Never go outside even if it looks calm – the weather may quickly get bad again. Also, make sure you stay away from the windows. You could get hurt by flying debris or broken glass during a storm. The room you choose should have no windows.

Put together a disaster supply kit

While a kit will give peace of mind, it can also be life-saving. At a minimum, you need one gallon of water, 2 weeks supply of food, medications, extra batteries, two-week medication, and battery-powered NOAA radio. And depending on your family requirements, you may need extra cash and baby supplies. Don’t forget to carry copies of your documents. Before the hurricane strikes, you should sit down with your friends/close family members and decide how you’ll get into contact with each other. Keep a copy of the emergency kit supplies where everyone can access it in the event of a disaster.

Family emergency communication plan

When a hurricane happens, communication may be down. You must plan how to get in touch with each other during the situation. To start with, you should have a family contact sheet that includes the name, phone numbers, addresses, and other important contacts. You should also have out of town contacts just in case you can’t contact other family members. It’s worth mentioning that during disasters it’s easier to make long-distance calls. You can ask the family members, especially children to recite important numbers they can use in case of an emergency.

Make sure each family member has a contact card that they should keep in their purse or wallet. It should also include a neighborhood meeting place. Also, agree where you can meet just in case you can’t get in touch with each other. This could be a house of worship, library, community center, or family friend’s home.

Finally, include the list of emergency contacts in your cellphone like ambulance, police, fire, etc. Perhaps the best way to ensure everyone is on the same page is to have regular family meetings and review the plan. Practice gathering all household members at the meeting places and discuss all modes of transportation.

Do you evacuate or stay at home?

Try contacting the American Red Cross Chapter or local emergency management office for hurricane preparedness plans. This should include the nearby shelters and safest evacuation routes. If you plan to use a car to evacuate, find out if some roads will be closed to ease traffic.

What to do if you’re at work or school

If the storm strikes and you’re separated from the loved ones, it can be difficult to find them. Since mobile phones are overloaded during emergencies, texting works better than calling. You should look for an out-of-state relative/friend to serve as the contact. To be on the safe side, make sure every family member knows the name and phone number. If your family has people with special needs, don’t forget about them. Even if they stay in a nursing care facility, make sure they are okay.

Prepare your home

You don’t have to wait until the storm comes your way to take the necessary precautionary measures. First, you should trim all the weak branches of trees to keep your property safe. It gets better if you re-grade around the roots as it gives the roots something to cling into.

Secondly, clear the yard to ensure nothing blows during the storm. If you have a generator, make sure it’s properly grounded. But you don’t have to buy a pricey generator in case of a power outage. Look for a model that can power the refrigerator and other essentials to make your life easier. During the installation, make sure the generator is away from other power sources.

Pay attention to what you can’t live with if you have no electricity for a few days. Another area you should look at is the downspouts and gutters. You should get rid of any debris that may cause damage to your property.

Know the difference between hurricane watch/warning

A hurricane warning is issued 36 hours before the storm begins. This gives people enough time to prepare or the storm. Listen to the instructions from a battery-powered radio. Stay inside (in a closet) or lie on the floor under a sturdy object or windows. Of course, you should avoid open flames, flooded roads, and washed-out bridges.

If there’s a hurricane watch, make sure all the emergency supplies are in place, fuel your car, and visit the local ATM. Next, bring in the lawn furniture, garden tools and anything that can fly due to strong winds. When you get to the house, set the freezer to the coldest settings and store your valuables in a container. Experts give a hurricane watch 48 hours before the strong winds start, so make sure you prepare in advance.

Planning for pets

If you have pets, you may want to think about family-friendly locations. You should ensure your plan has information on current vaccinations in case they get lost. Find someone who can take care of your furry friends in case of evacuation. And because not all emergency shelters will accept animals, you should consider a boarding center. Just fasten the identification tag on the pets’ collar and get out-of-state contacts.