For people affected by hurricane-turned-superstorm Sandy, the time to prepare has ended, and recovery is beginning. Sandy was a very unique weather event, but with any hurricane, or superstorm, those who endure it become even wiser when it comes to knowing how to prepare for storms – a small silver lining to a horrible event.
If you’re likely to evacuate before a hurricane, do you really need to prepare? The answer is “yes.” While you may decide to evacuate before a hurricane, it’s still wise to plan ahead for any unexpected disaster. Whether you’re preparing for an earthquake, flood or hurricane, you’ll need many of the same supplies. These tips, gathered from sources like FEMA and the CDC, should be useful for helping you prepare.
Make a Plan
Hurricane preparation guidelines offered by the National Weather Service advise you to have an emergency plan. You should sit down with your family and decide together how you’ll contact each other, where you’ll go, and what you’ll do in the event of an emergency.
Designate a safe area of your home where you’ll weather the storm, and select a couple of emergency shelters near your home. Your plan should also include a copy of important family information for doctors, pharmacies, medical insurance, homeowners or renters insurance, and veterinarian or kennel contacts.
Put Together a Disaster Supplies Kit
A basic disaster supplies kit includes essentials, such as like food and water that should last for at least three days. Each person should have a gallon of water for drinking and sanitation per day for three days. Include non-perishable food in your disaster supply kit along with a manual can opener and dining utensils. Some recommendations from FEMA include salt-free crackers, canned foods with high liquid content and whole grain cereals. The key is to include staples that don’t require refrigeration or fuss (cooking or any other special preparation).
Other items to include in your supply kit are a weather radio, a wrench or pliers for turning off utilities, a first aid kit, a whistle, and a flashlight with extra batteries. While you may know when a hurricane is coming, you may not know when other natural disasters will strike. That’s why you’ll need to store a kit at work, in your car and at home. For more details on other items to include in your disaster supplies kit and information on how to maintain your kit, visit FEMA.
Be Prepared to Treat Your Water
Your home may still have running water after a disaster, but it may not be safe to drink. If local authorities have said that tap water isn’t safe, disinfect it before drinking. Don’t worry. You won’t have to resort to tactics you may have seen on “Man vs. Wild” with Bear Grylls!
Kill bacteria in drinking water in one of three ways: Use water-purifying tablets; keep the water it at a rolling boil for one minute; or add 1/8 teaspoon of newly purchased and unscented liquid household bleach for each gallon of water and stir well, waiting 30 minutes before use. Infants should only be fed pre-prepared canned baby formula, not powdered formula prepared with treated water. For more information on preventing injuries and staying healthy after a flood or hurricane, visit the CDC.
Gas Up and Buy Plywood
During hurricane season, it’s wise to keep your gas tank at least half full. If you wait until the storm is imminent, you may face long lines and gas stations that are out of gas. Likewise, if you don’t have hurricane shutters, go ahead and cut some plywood to fit your windows. You’ll be glad that chore is out of the way when the time comes.
Finally, Beware the Calm
Now that you’re prepared, be sure to also remember that during a hurricane, it may seem that all is well when, in fact, more danger lurks. As the National Weather Service warns, the calm “eye” of the storm may precede a change in direction of winds and a quick return to hurricane force. Stay in the designated safe area of your home or a shelter until you know it’s safe to return to normal activities.
Do you have an emergency plan for hurricanes? Have you updated your disaster supply kit?
Stay Prepared for Hurricanes and Other Disasters by Tim Eyre