10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Prepare for Hurricane Season
People that live along the East or Gulf Coasts have become increasingly aware of the power and destruction hurricanes can bring. But, even if you’re located hours inland, it’s still possible for hurricanes to have a very real impact on you and your family. From heavy rains to flooding and tornados, hurricanes are large storms that can stretch for hundreds of miles. As part of Hurricane Preparedness Week, we wanted to share some tips that you and your family can take to help you get ready for the next storm. Many of the tips below will not only help keep you safe but can also ensure your utility company can get on the road to restore service during outages. When you evacuate or shelter in place, you’re keeping cars off the road that can quickly become hazardous. Read our top 10 tips for being prepared for the upcoming hurricane season.
- Get to Know Your Hurricane Risk
Whether you live on the coast or a few hours inland, there are risks to hurricane that makes landfall, or even one that stays miles off the coast. Learn the difference between a hurricane watch (conditions possible within the next 48 hours) and a hurricane warning (conditions are expected within 36 hours). These are both very serious designations that should be paid attention to and monitored. To learn more about how these could impact you specifically, visit FEMA’s website.
- Learn Your Evacuation Zone
If your home is the direct path of a hurricane, it’s often advised that you evacuate due to the uncertainty of what the storm will bring. Many coastal areas have designated evacuation zones and routes to help mitigate traffic and ease the process on residents. These zones also help emergency personnel to effectively communicate what areas should expect to be hit hardest, and what areas they believe will be safe. View your state’s website for its emergency management department for detailed information about your zone.
- Create an Emergency Plan
Every family should have an emergency plan in place! In any emergency, it’s important for your family to know the ways to exit the home and where the designated meetup points are if you were to get separated. Don’t wait until an emergency happens to plan. Create one ahead of time and practice leaving to make sure everyone is informed. Ready.gov has a step-by-step guide to help you create a plan for your loved ones.
- Keep your Documents Safe
Does your home insurance plan cover flooding? Where do you keep your birth certificate and social security card? Do you have the title to your car? Understanding and having quick access to your insurance policies and identification documents can help speed up the recovery process if damage occurs to your home or property during a hurricane. These documents are hard to replace but can easily be protected by sealing them in freezer bags. It’s also a good idea to make and save copies digitally for easy access from anywhere.
- Create a Disaster Kit
Whether you stay in your home during a hurricane or choose to evacuate, having a disaster kit could serve you well. Ready.gov recommends that disaster kits contain water, food, batteries, a flashlight, whistle, cell phone chargers, a manual can opener and a first aid kit. Additionally, they recommend that you consider your individual needs. Prescription medication, contact lens solution, pet food and cash are just some of the items you might want to keep stocked. See the full list at their website.
- Follow Evacuation Orders
This one’s easy! If your zone is told to evacuate – do it. Emergency workers use high-tech predictive analysis tools to understand the potential impacts of a storm. If you’re told to evacuate it means there’s a strong probability of dangerous conditions in your area which could impeded first responders from getting to you. When you heed an evacuation order you’re not just doing it for the safety of your family, but also for those that could find themselves in the storm trying to help you if something were to go wrong.
- Take Photos of Your Home and Property
If you’re required to evacuate, take photos of all your major appliances and the exterior of your property. Product numbers and other identifying information can help you in the event that an insurance claim needs to be made. Doing this on your smart phone is easy and could likely help you get things back to normal quicker if problems arise.
- Use Frozen Bags to Keep Your Freezer Cold
Unfortunately, power outages often follow hurricanes. While your utility company will work as fast as possible to restore service, you can help salvage items in your freezer by placing plastic bags full of water in your freezer. Once frozen, they’ll serve as ice blocks that will help keep the internal temperature of your freezer lower for longer.
- Sign Up for Your Community Warning System
Many communities now have warning systems that will send information directly to your phone. Either through a downloaded app or SMS message, the alerts provide up to the minute information about what’s happening in your area. To learn more about what kind of systems are available, visit Ready.gov for full details.
- Check on Your Neighbors
Do you know your neighbors? One great preparedness tip is to get to know the people that live around you. If your neighborhood is impacted by a hurricane there’s a chance emergency crews might have a hard time getting to your home. Building relationships with your neighbors will create a sense of community that will be necessary if a storm hits. If you have elderly neighbors, check on them before and after a storm to make sure they’re okay.