Being Prepared: Do you know what you and your family are going to do in the event of a hurricane? What do you do if the power is out for 3-4 days. (Some parts of Puerto Rico STILL don’t have electricity, almost a year after the Irma & Marie storms.) Do you have a plan? Do you have supplies? Do you know what steps to take after a hurricane? These are some of the questions you need to answer TODAY, in order to be prepared for tomorrow.
Emergency Plan (ideally done weeks before any disaster occurs)
- Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know your local evacuation route(s) to take and a plan on where you are going to stay. Your state’s “Emergency Management Office” has this information, in place and ready. All you need to do is ask. (No one ever does, until it’s too late)
- If you are leaving your home, make a “go-bag”. This is a disaster supply kit that includes a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, important papers and information. Don’t forget about a “go-bag” for your pets also. Bandages, tweezers, scissors, activated charcoal, canned pumpkin (good for pets’ upset stomachs) or canned prescription pet food, a bag of pet food, collapsible bowls, an air mattress and towels for their comfort and a copy of pet’s medical records. Have these items in a Rubbermaid container for easy grab and go.
- If you are staying in your home, plan for adequate supplies (see below) in case you lose power and water for several days and are blocked from getting out by debris on the roads or flooding.
- Have a communication plan with your family. Create a paper copy of the contact information for your family and other important people such as doctors, hospitals and schools. Make sure each person gets a copy and carries them in their purse, wallet or backpack. Discuss the list and update the list regularly. If power is disrupted, use texting. This will get through easier than a call because text uses less bandwidth, but long term power outages cause system wide failures. Think Puerto Rico & New Orleans. Plan for THAT too.
- Prepare your home. Hurricane winds are strong. They can down trees and branches will fall. Trim or remove damaged trees before hurricane season. Clean out your gutters so water flows freely to prevent any water damage to your home. The day before a hurricane, secure all outdoor furniture, trash cans and grills. If you are planning on using a generator, please remember to keep it at least 20 feet away from window and doors. Never use lights, heaters or portable power generators in unventelated areas, (this means inside) even if it’s raining. Don’t “survive” the storm to die of carbon monoxide gas poisoning. It’s odorless, colorless (no smoke) and just makes you sleepy…. Permanently!!
Supply Kit (PLEASE Don’t wait till everyone is in-line at the big-box store to purchase these items)
- Water: One gallon of water per person, per day for at least 3 days (for drinking and sanitation)
- Food: At least a 3 day supply of non-perishable food. Cheese or peanut butter crackers, beef jerky, applesauce, pudding, fruit cups, granola bars, power bars, cereal bars, single serving ravioli or spaghetti, packaged nuts, trail mix, fruit snacks, dried fruits, peanut butter, boxed drinks and juices, canned tuna, pasta, ramen noodles, canned vegetables are just some of the items you can choose from.
- Battery powered or hand crank radio and/or a NOAA weather radio. Don’t forget extra batteries.
- Flashlight(s) [with extra batteries]
- First aid kit
- CoolTowel® to keep you cool when there is no power or Air Conditioning. Recommended at least one per family member per day.
- EcoCleanse® Decontamination Towel to clean your skin from flood waters or any other contaminants. Recommended at least one per family member per day.
- For sanitation purposes – extra toilette paper, or baby wipes, and trash bags with ties to “seal” the waste
- Can opener for food
- Back up cell phone batteries (many “new” models don’t have “replaceable” batteries, but you can buy cheap “charge-up/juice packs” online. This is only true if you purchase them BEFORE the storm)
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula & diapers
- Pet food and extra water
- Important papers and documents (put in a waterproof container)
- Cash or traveler’s checks (in SMALL Denominations). Remember any stores “open”, won’t have working cash registers.
- Complete change of clothing with sturdy shoes for each family member
- Chlorine Bleach (just regular, not scented or color safe) & medicine dropper: In an emergency, you can use bleach to treat water by using 16 drops of regular bleach per 1 gallon of water.
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine Supplies
- Paper cups, plates, towels and plastic utensils
- Books, games & puzzles for children
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30. Peak times occur between mid-August to late October. However, heavy rains, strong winds and floods can happen anywhere in the US.