Preparing for Hurricane Season: Shelter from the Storm

Staying safe during stormy season is a high priority for those of us living in changing climates and frequent hurricane areas. With the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the world quickly learned how damaging a storm can be not only to the physical home, but also the impact on our day-to-day lives. Surviving a storm is a stressful event that can be potentially life-threatening and certainly life-changing. After or even during a severe storm, most day-to-day necessities and supplies are not always available; this is one reason why stockpiling and preparing well for hurricane season is so important.

This hurricane season in 2006 is expected to be similar to 2005. In an effort to mitigate the effects and dangers associated with these storms, here are some tips and strategies to be well-prepared:

1. Learn what areas of your home serve as potential hazards; you should know if you should leave your home in case of flooding (most people should), where the best fire exits are, and how sturdy your roof and windows may or may not be in the event of a heavy storm.

2. Test your generator to make sure it works; you will not have the ability to repair or take care of it in the event of a severe storm.

3. Collect materials and supplies to board up windows. You can find self-mounting kits and supplies at your local hardware store

4. Create an evacuation plan; make sure that all family members are aware of the procedure before a storm strikes out of the blue. If you live in a large residential building or complex, be sure that you know where all emergency exits and resources located.

5. Know where the local shelters are, and create a ‘shelter bag’ stocked with blankets and supplies. Not all shelters have enough supplies for all attendants, so take your own to be safe.

6. Learn if you live in a hazardous area prone to a storm surge, marine hazard, tornadoes, high winds, or inland flooding. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides resources for your geographic location. You can enter your location here to create a Hazard Map of your area.

7. Stay tuned to television, radio, and internet alerts whenever possible, and especially moreso with oncoming storm alerts.

8. Coordinate your evacuation plan with a safe and designated spot in the event you need to evacuate within 1 hour. You do not want to find yourself searching for a place with the threat of a storm nearby.

9. Learn retrofitting strategies to strengthen and secure your home even further. This will involve all of your garage doors, roofs, shutters, doors, and straps that can be improved using different materials and tools. Visit this web link for specific informaton and strategies.

10. Create a Disaster Kit

The National Hurricane Center has put together this recommended list of Disaster Kit Instructions:

Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days

• non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
• foods for infants or the elderly
• snack foods
• non-electric can opener
• cooking tools / fuel
• paper plates / plastic utensils

Blankets / Pillows, etc.

Clothing – seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes

First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs

Special Items – for babies and the elderly

Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes

Flashlight / Batteries

Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio

Cash (with some small bills) – Banks and ATMs may not be open or available for extended periods.

Keys

Toys, Books and Games

Important documents – in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
• insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.

Tools – keep a set with you during the storm

Vehicle fuel tanks filled

Pet care items
• proper identification / immunization records / medications
• ample supply of food and water
• a carrier or cage
• muzzle and leash

With these ten strategies and Disaster Kit checklist, you will be well on your way to being well-prepared for an oncoming storm, hazard, or other natural disaster. Experiencing a natural disaster can be managed well with clear-headedness, preparation, and flexibility; keep an open mind, and be confident that you have done the best you can to be prepared for this year’s hurricane and severe weather season.

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