Hurricanes: Be Prepared to Stay Safe
Hurricane Season Has Started
Hurricanes have certainly been in the news recently as two major hurricanes have struck two states in the United States so far this year. Just a few weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated large cities in Texas, Hurricane Irma followed and caused massive damage in most of the state of Florida.
Hurricanes can be very dangerous and can often be deadly. This is why it is important to plan ahead and be well prepared. Planning ahead for a hurricane can help to save lives, reduce potential damage to valuable property, and reduce the stress of surviving a hurricane. On the average, five hurricanes will strike the United States coastline every three years, during what is known as the hurricane season.
I lived in a hurricane area for several years and was very lucky to only experience one major hurricane during those years, Hurricane Ivan. But those years did teach me that being prepared was essential for those living in hurricane zones.
Storm surges onto pier
Before Hurricane Season
If there is anything good about hurricanes, it's that they can usually be tracked with great accuracy and you will most likely have several days to prepare and to evacuate if necessary. Here are some things that you should start to take care of right away.
- You can begin preparing for hurricanes well before the hurricane season begins. You will want to make sure trees and shrubbery are well trimmed.
- Check and make certain that the outside of your home is kept clear of clutter that will need to be put away in the event of a hurricane. Any outdoor furniture such as patio sets, chairs and umbrellas will need put inside. Garbage cans should also be placed inside or secured.
- Windows should be boarded with plywood to protect them from flying objects. Plywood should be purchased early then cut to fix each window and marked which window each piece of plywood fits. These should then be stored in a safe place for the next hurricane, because eventually there will be another hurricane.
- Chance are good that after a hurricane your home will have at least some roof damage. It is a good idea to buy tarps and store with the plywood for the windows. After a hurricane, tarps can be hard to find and you will want to use these tarps to protect your home from further damage due to rain.
- If you can afford to buy one, get a generator. A good generator can run a few lights, the refrigerator, and the freezer which will save your frozen foods.
- One of the most important things you should do is to make sure your home insurance is adequate and will cover your home and exterior buildings and fences.
Boarding the windows for safety
Store all important documents in plastic in a waterproof safe. If you need to evacuate, you can simply grab this quickly and have your important documents with you. It may also be a good idea to make copies of important documents and keep in a bank or with relatives that are not in the hurricane area. Documents that you should keep in a safe place include the following:
- All insurance policies
- Birth certificates
- Marriage Certificates
- Property deeds
- Credit Card Information
- Medical Information
- Social Security Cards
- Vehicle Information
Make sure your car is ready
Make sure your car is well maintained and has a full tank of gas in the event that you will have to leave the area. Gas stations may take a day or so to become operational after a hurricane and those that do have gas will also have a long line of people waiting to fill their cars. If possible, try to purchase several gallon cans of extra gas. After the hurricane it will be some time before gas stations are able to fully function so you will be needing that extra gas for the car. For those who are fortunate enough to have a garage put your car in the garage to protect it from flying objects. You can even use your car to brace the garage doors by parking it as tight to the garage door as possible.
Gas Grill for alternative cooking
Supplies You Will Need
As previously mentioned, you should have a generator because it is more than likely you will not have power for several days after the hurricane. A generator can keep your refrigerator and lights working as well as some small appliances such as the coffee pot.
You should also have a supply of canned foods, bread, and various drinks including bottled water. A radio or battery operated television are essential to keep up with what is happening, so make sure you also have a supply of different types of batteries. Flashlights are essential, so make sure they are in working order with good batteries. Kerosene lights and kerosene may be kept on hand or battery powered lanterns.
A grill or a camp stove is important as these will allow you to use any meat in your freezer that may otherwise spoil. Without electric, you will need an alternative way of cooking. You will also need to keep several bottles of propane for the gas grill.
As I mentioned, you will need a good supply of water on hand, both for drinking and for washing. Before a hurricane hits it is a good idea to fill as many containers of water as possible and filling the bathtub is a good idea. As far as drinking water, it is estimated that you should have several gallons of water for each person on hand.
Having cash on hand after a hurricane is something you might not think about till later. Many of us have gotten used to carrying very little cash on us and just pulling out that convenient little plastic bank card. But after a hurricane, those banks are not going to be operating for a few days till the power is restored and the same thing goes for most places where you might use your bank card. So it is important to have a fair amount of cash on hand. So don't forget to visit your bank before a hurricane closes down everything.
Essential food supplies
The following items are often items you might already have in your cupboards but check to make sure you will have enough food on hand for at least a week.
- Canned items
- Crackers and cereal bars
- Pudding cups and fruit cups
- Dried fruits
- Anything else that is easy to open and won't perish
- Peanut Butter
- Manual can opener
Cleaning up after the hurricane
Additional precautions to stay safe and healthy
Anyone who is taking medications on a daily basis should have at least a week’s supply. Also make certain to check your first aid kit to make certain you have first aid cream, bandages and antiseptics.
It would be a wise idea to discuss your hurricane plans with your family so that everyone knows what the plan is. If you plan to evacuate, each person should know what items they will be allowed to take with them. They should each also know the destination that you will be heading for in case anyone should get separated along the way. You will need to make sure everyone has a fully charged cell phone so that all family members are able to stay in touch at all times.
These are some of the major things that you will need to do and should purchase to be prepared for a hurricane. You should also listen to your local Emergency Management office for local information, such as where local shelters will be located, emergency evacuation routes and other safety issues.
Nothing can stop the stress, and heartbreak that hurricanes can cause. Lost personal items such as photos can never be replaced. But hurricanes can be survived by preparing in advance.