August and September are always the time of year when communities near the Gulf Coast start thinking about the possibility for hurricanes and preparing for potential storms. It is much easier to respond to crisis if you have a plan versus waiting to the last minute to think of what you should do. Tropical storms and hurricanes can cause serious injury and/or property damage with hazards such as flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and possible storm surge. It is important to stay safe during a natural disaster and know your household plan.
If a storm is already approaching, sometimes its too late to plan and check your emergency supplies and contact information. It is best to do this regularly through the year and even every few weeks during the hurricane season. Also, it is suggested to keep a list of contact information for the following entities so it is easily accessible:
- Emergency Management Offices
- County Law Enforcement
- County Public Safety Fire/Rescue
- State, County and City/Town Government
- Local Hospitals
- Local Utilities
- Local American Red Cross
- Local TV Stations
- Local Radio Stations
- Your Property Insurance Agent
Also, think about friends and family members who may be scattered throughout the state or other areas. Do you have a student away at college? Is a close friend away on vacation? Stay up to date with friends and family, especially during the peak of hurricane season, so you know how to communicate and find each other.
These are some tips for preparing for a storm according to the American Red Cross:
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio (Available on the Red Cross Store) for critical information from the National Weather Service.
- Check your disaster supplies. Replace or restock as needed.
- Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture).
- Close your windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you do not have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. Keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out.
- Turn off propane tank.
- Unplug small appliances.
- Fill your car’s gas tank.
- Create a hurricane evacuation plan with members of your household. Planning and practicing your evacuation plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
- Find out about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs and make plans for your pets to be cared for.
- Obey evacuation orders. Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
- Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. It’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S.
Consider the possibilities during a storm. If you have to evacuate, where will you go and what will you take with you? If you are confined to your home, do you have enough water and supplies if your utilities are shut off? Also, always have a complete first aid kit in your disaster supplies.
It may seem like a daunting task but it is worth taking the time to think through possibilities so you can eliminate fear, panic, and as much stress as possible during a storm. If you own a business, hurricane preparedness can even more overwhelming but it is a necessity. Being able to react calmly because of your preparation will make a stressful situation a little less so.
Make it a safe day!