Though Hurricane Michal just passed, we are still in the middle of Hurricane season. Measured on a scale of severity from 1 to 5, a hurricane is a violent tropical storm system that forms over the open ocean. Bringing heavy rainfall, powerful winds, storms, flooding, tornadoes, landslides, and rip currents to coastal cities, a hurricane can be extremely dangerous. The key to staying safe during a hurricane is to prepare in advance and to use your preparations when alerted by authorities to do so.
Take the time to gather information about how a hurricane could affect your home. Learn ahead of time when the storm will hit, whether your area is at high risk, and how many days you’ll need to be prepared for so you can avoid disaster. Keep a list of contact details for the local authorities, hospital, radio, fire department etc, and make plans on how to contact your extended family in case you need to evacuate. Make a plan with your immediate family for what to do before, during, and after the hurricane passes, and always stay up to date on information about the weather. As the hurricane approaches, keep an eye on how the storm progresses so you can make the decision to either stay at home or to leave.
Find a Shelter
Staying sheltered is of the utmost importance during a hurricane. It is possible that you will have to evacuate your home during the storm when extreme winds or flooding might destroy buildings. To prepare for this possibility, you should make an emergency evacuation plan to a predetermined safe shelter and practice your route beforehand. If you are ordered to stay indoors, find a small, interior, windowless room or hallway in a sturdy building on the lowest floor that isn’t subject to flooding, like a pantry or basement. You should test run all of these shelters with your family, including your pet. As part of planning ahead, consider learning first aid so you’ll be prepared if anyone gets injured during the evacuation. If you’d like to help others get to safety, consider becoming a first responder.
Pack a Bug Out Bag
The term ‘bugging out’ refers to the decision to abandon one’s home in response to an emergency situation. This means leaving everything behind except for your bug out bag—a special survival kit that should last you at least 72 hours. A bag like this should be packed and ready to go well before the hurricane arrives. Make sure to fill your backpack with essential items that will get you through a variety of emergencies, and you can even create a bug out bag checklist to help keep it organized. Now is not the time to be lazy; all of the items in this pack could save your life. In addition, pay close attention to the specific needs of all those you are packing for. You should have a gallon of water per person per day and all vital medicine. Make copies of important documents, such as your SSN, passport, identification card, and anything else that will be necessary to have in the future. And remember to not forget about the needs of your pets! Bring food and medication for your furry friends as well.
Prepare your Home
Even if you plan to evacuate, don’t forget to prepare your home for the hurricane. There are a few things you can do to help minimize potential damage to your home, like de cluttering your drains and gutters, reviewing your insurance coverage, installing storm shutters, and using sandbags to waterproof your entry ways. Make sure your home is in good shape to begin with, as any damaged areas will get worse with heavy rain. Outside of the home, make sure you bring any loose furniture inside, like patio tables or swing sets. You should consider trimming trees around your house, as this reduces the risk that they’ll topple over during high winds. Lastly, make sure you take your car to a car shelter or at least park it in the garage so there’s less chance of damage.
Hurricane season can be scary, but ensuring you are prepared in advance should keep you more at ease. If you stay up to date on all information, have an evacuation or shelter route planned, and know what supplies you’ll need in an emergency, you should be able to weather the storm just fine.