Disaster preparedness is an absolute necessity for families everywhere. There are specific things that can be done ahead of time in order to increasethe likelihood of surviving through a natural disaster such as an earthquake, fire, flood, tornado, or hurricane. This article addresses some key factors to include when preparing a hurricane plan for oneself and ones family.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA) are two organizations that offer excellent information on just what needs to be done ahead of time in the event that a hurricane may strike. People that live in areas that are traditionally hit hardest by hurricanes (such as those that live along the eastern and gulf coastlines of the United States) should take extra care to be prepared. However, families everywhere should also be aware of things to do that may save lives.
One of the first steps families can take when planning for the possibility of a hurricane is to sit down and discuss the types of hazards that their home may be vulnerable. This includes storm surges, flooding and wind. Once these things have been outlined, a safe room or area in the home should be identified for each particular hazard.
The next thing that should be mapped out is an escape route from the home along with meeting places for family members. This information should be recorded and placed in a central location for easy access to everyone. Emergency contact numbers should be posted in more than one location in the home and children should be taught how to utilize 911 properly. An out-of-state contact person should also be established.
It is wise for families with pets to come up with a pet plan in the event that an emergency evacuation has to take place. Families should also check with their insurance companies ahead of time to find out the specifics of what types of hurricane related damages may be covered.
FEMA suggests that families and individuals make plans to secure their property by investing in permanent storm shutters to protect windows. If this is not feasible, then plans should be made to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood. They go on to suggest that homeowners install straps or additional clips to securely fasten their roofs to the frame structure and reduce damage.
It is also important for property owners to keep the trees and bushes around the home well trimmed and to keep rain gutters and downspouts free and clear of leaves and debris.
One of the most important steps in preparing a hurricane plan is to put together a survival kit that includes the following non-perishable emergency supplies:
NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) – this allows people to tune in 24 hours a day, seven days a week to a nationwide network of radio stations which broadcast continuous weather information. (Batteries should be changed every six months.)
Water – one gallon daily for each member in the house to last for at least 3 to 7 days
Non-Perishable Food – enough to last for 3 to 7 days as well
Infants and elderly family members’ dietary needs must be given special consideration and snacks for everyone should be included as well. Include non-electric can-openers, cooking tools and fuel, and paper plates, cups, and utensils. Important medications should also be kept on hand.
Other items such as blankets and pillows, seasonal clothing, rain gear, sturdy shoes, toiletries, flashlights and batteries, and fully charged cell phones are also essential to include in a survival kit. Families should also store cash, credit cards, keys, toys, books and games. Important documents such as insurance papers, personal papers, medical information, etc. should be stored in a waterproof container.
Finally, it is a good idea to include a first-aid, CPR, or disaster preparedness class as part of one’s preparation for the possibility of a hurricane. Thinking ahead and being prepared can save lives!