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How to Prepare for a Hurricane

This 2017 hurricane season has caught our attention like none other. On Friday, August 25, 2017 Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane. Now only two weeks later a Category 5 hurricane is barreling towards Florida. At times like these, anxiety runs high – even if you are not in the path of the onslaught. The best way to deal with anxiety and worry is to be prepared. In this article, we will show you how to prepare for a hurricane.

Be Prepared Early

News reports are already stating that the shelves are bare in most supermarkets in Southern Florida. Waiting until a storm approaches to get your supplies is not a wise decision. The key to reducing worry is to prepare for a hurricane long before there is a threat. Every person should have a “to go bag” ready for any emergency – albeit a hurricane, flash flood, terrorist attack, earthquake, tornado or any other potential disaster. In addition, there are some steps you can take to plan and prepare for a hurricane.

Insurance

While you have the option of evacuating, your house does not. Insurance is one way to protect your home. Hurricane insurance is not the only insurance you will need. Property owners and renters should insure their homes and/or possessions from flooding – which is a completely different policy rider than hurricane insurance.  Flooding from hurricanes is not limited to properties on the coast – just check out the pictures from Hurricane Harvey.

Action Plan

Another way to prepare for a hurricane in advance of a storm is to have an action plan. Will you stay or will you evacuate? What category of storm is too much or too risky? Remember it is not just the strength of your home that dictates if you should leave. Support services can be taxed to their limit or virtually non-existent for days. Water can be turned off, sewers backed up and electricity cut for days or even weeks. These can make for very rough conditions if you decide to weather the storm. So why not figure out what you will do in advance. If you have family in other areas, let them know you might be coming for a spontaneous visit. Learn, and drive in advance, evacuation routes. Keep a map in your car’s glove compartment with the route highlighted as a backup.

Pets

In the event of an evacuation, what will you do with your pets? If you decide to take them with you, you will need a carrier and a leash. Do not forget to pack food and water for your pets. This will be a stressful time for them too, so make it a little easier by bringing their blanket and toys.

Memories

Another good idea to prepare for a natural disaster is to make digital copies of irreplaceable items such as family photos and then to store them off-site. Also, make a written and photographic record of all your personal property which will be invaluable in the event of an insurance claim.

What Goes into a Hurricane Kit?

There are some essentials that you should pack early so that you can be prepared for a hurricane. These are items that will not spoil or degrade overtime, so why not get them packed this week. Items that go into a disaster kit will include the following:

  • First Aid Kit (pain killers, bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, anti-diarrhea tablets, antacids, small scissors, medical gloves)
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Flashlights and plenty of batteries
  • 3 Gallons of water per person (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Non-perishable food for 3 days (including ready-to-feed formula for infants)
  • Hygienic products (toilet paper, soap, shampoo, wash cloth, toothbrush, sanitary supplies, diapers)
  • Whistle to signal for help for each person
  • Extra set of house and car keys
  • Household bleach with eyedropper (sanitizes water)
  • Garbage bags
  • Duct tape
  • Local maps
  • Copies of home and personal property deeds, IDs, passports, health insurance cards, social security cards, birth certificates, bank accounts and pet vaccinations as well.
  • Photos of your home and possessions
  • Change of clothes including socks, underwear, long pants.
  • Hand-operated can opener
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Sleeping bag or blanket for each person.
  • Paper and pen
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities

Keep these items in a backpack or plastic tub – something that can be grabbed at a moments notice. If you wish you could have a printable checklist, then download this handy document from FEMA.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane That’s Close

As a hurricane approaches, anxiety is bound to increase. Knowing what you need to do in the days before the storm makes landfall will help alleviate some of the worry.

Extra Items to Pack

If you will decide to evacuate ahead of the storm, pack 3 days of clothes. Also make sure that you have at least 2 weeks of prescription medication on hand since local pharmacies may not be available. Make sure you have plenty of cash on hand since ATMs maybe down because of power outages or destroyed after a storm. Pack your phone charger if you have not already and a couple of charged portable power banks are a good idea as well.

Protect Your Home

If you own a home, take the time to protect your belongings. Windows and doors should be covered by hurricane shudders or 5/8 plywood cut to at least 1”past the window frame and secured with deck screws. Remove anything that could become a projectile such as lawn furniture, decorative items, grills or even landscaping rocks. Turn the refrigerator to the coldest setting in case power goes off and open the doors as little as possible.  Unplug small appliances and all electronics before you leave.

Back up Your Electronics

In case your phone or computer gets damaged during the storm, you will be able to take comfort in knowing that all your data is backed up to an off-site locations such as Google Drive, Dropbox or iCloud.

Notify your Friends and Family

In the hurry to prepare for a hurricane, do not forget to contact your friends and family to let them know your plan of action. If you decide to evacuate, provide them with contact numbers of where you are going. Tape a note to the inside of the front door with a contact number. This will help emergency personal in two ways. One, they will know you are not inside and hurt and second they will have a contact number if needed.

Fill Up

As soon as there is the possibility of a hurricane coming your way, keep your cars full of gas. This will keep you from waiting hours in long lines at the gas station. Speaking of filling up, whether you decide to head out or to stay, fill up a bath tub and any spare buckets with water.

Turn Off

Whether you leave or stay, you should unplug everything except your refrigerator and lamps. This includes small electronics and modems that could get fried by a power surge. You should also turn off the gas and water if you are leaving.

No one wants to go through a natural disaster, but that does not mean that we will not face it some time in the future. Why not take a weekend and prepare for a hurricane beforehand. If that day ever comes, you will be glad you had everything ready in time.

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