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Are You Ready Series: Hurricane Preparedness

It seems that natural storms have become more severe in recent years.  No one takes hurricanes lightly anymore due to the shock and awe that hurricane Katrina caused when she came ashore.  These monster storms are so violent and have the capacity to level an entire town.

Hurricanes are serious tropical storms with winds that exceed 74 mph and have a tendency to cause structural damage to homes and commercial businesses.  Inland flooding is also a concern for many who live on the coasts because a hurricane can dump dozens of inches of water in a matter of days.  The extent of the damage done by a hurricane depends on the category that is has been assigned.  The categories range from 1 (minimal damage) to 5 (severe damage).  Plans and preparations should be made prior to the possibility of a hurricane threat.

Those that live in the coastal areas know that hurricanes are always lurking around the corner.  Therefore, it is only logical to have a disaster plan in place in the case this is the year the hurricane will hit.

Make a Plan

A disaster plan is one of the most important aspects of preparedness.   A decisive plan of action should take into account the pros and cons of any given situation.  The basic premise of having a disaster plan is to know what your Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C are before the disaster strikes.  Your main priorities are shelter, fire, and water [1], and food.   When preparing a disaster plan, keep all the information together in a binder called the G.O.O.D Manual [2].  This will keep vital information, emergency plans, contact information, etc organized and ready in the case someone needs it in a pinch.  It would be wise to write down the main contact of someone outside of the hurricane area that you can use as a communication hub to relay pertinent information to other members of the family or friends.  This is important because of 1. You do not want to be on the phone the entire time calling people with updates, and 2. Phone lines are going to be maxed out.  It will be hard to get through multiple times.

If you plan on bugging out or evacuating [3], get the evacuation plan in order (use this checklist [4]), needed items together and try and leave before the mass exodus.  No one wants to be caught in idle traffic for hours.  Also, having extra gallons of gasoline would also be beneficial.  In the past, many refugees who did not have extra gas and ran out of gas ended up having to abandon their cars on the highway.  Bottom line is to plan ahead and try and leave as early as possible.

Calling one person will minimize the time of the phone, and you can concentrate your effort on other important things.  Additionally, contact a friend or relative to see if you would be able to stay with them (if you plan on getting out of the storm’s path).

Learn about your community emergency response plan [5], as well as the national weather radio stations prior to the threat of a storm.  The National Hurricane Center [6] is also a good source for information regarding approaching hurricanes and tropical storms.

Plan For The Worst Scenario and Get Emergency Supplies Now

Typically, when a hurricane watch or warning is issued, there is a mass flock to the stores to gather items.  People tend to buy the exact same thing (canned goods, water, infant formula, etc), and these are the items that run out the fastest.  Those who wait to gather supplies until the last minute are typically the ones who will either end up waiting in long lines or go home empty handed because all the stores have sold out of supplies.

The most important item to have on hand besides a plan [7] is water [8].   Multiple disaster organizations suggest having 1 gallon of water per person per day.  This suggestion is for drinking purposes only.  If a person wants to flush their toilet or clean dirty dishes, they will need to have extra water on hand.  Having a water filtration system, like the Berkey Water System [1] is a good idea to have on hand in the case that city water is interrupted or a person’s well [9] has become contaminated.  Here are some additional suggestions for having extra water on hand:

Gathering foods for a short-term disaster [10] can be relatively inexpensive.  It is a good idea to plan for the worst case scenario so that everything can be prepared for.  Since electricity going out is typically a problem with hurricanes, purchase foods that are shelf stable and can be stored without refrigeration. Learn how to protect your food sources during power disruptions here [11]. Furthermore, plan meals to meet a 1500-2000 calorie diet that are high in nutrients so that individuals in the home can keep up their energy levels up.  Keep in mind any members of the family that are on special diets (including pets).

Other supplies such as flashlights, batteries, a battery operated or solar radio, first aid kit [12] and a good can opener are some other additional items one may need if a hurricane hits.  Gasoline will also be in an extremely high demand.  Especially if a person is using a generator to power a home.  Having a ready supply of fuel [13]will help make the experience of bugging in a little less of a burden and more of a minor inconvenience.

Protect the Home

Prior to the storm, the home should be prepared so that when the storm hits, it sustains minimal damage.  Below, one can find some tips on how to prepare the home.

In Summation

Once May rolls around, people all around the east and gulf coast begin to brace themselves for the possibility of being up close and personal with a hurricane.  Hurricanes are storms that are not a force to be reckoned with.  There high gale force winds and flooding cause serious damage to homes as well as create severe beach erosion.  Having a decisive action plan, food, water and supplies already stored and knowing how to protect your home will keep you and your family as safe as possible.