Are you prepared for the next hurricane or tropical storm?
Hurricane season has arrived, and for folks living on the Eastern Seaboard, it’s important to be prepared for the inevitable storms that will be coming in the next few months. Even when this area doesn’t receive a direct hit from a hurricane, aftermath and fringes of storms can still cause damage, flooding, power outages and general inconveniences.
So what do you need to do or have in order to be prepared to keep your family safe and comfortable in the event of tropical weather? We’ve compiled a list of items and resources that you should begin working on now in order to be prepared when the time comes. Don’t wait until the stores are packed and people are panicking – start working on this list now, and when the storms come, all you’ll need to do is hunker down and stay safe!
- Lanterns and flashlights over candles
Yes, candles can be fun (for a few hours) when the power goes out, but they can also be extremely dangerous, especially during a storm. According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2009-2013, 9,300 house fires were started by candles. This resulted in 86 deaths and 827 injuries, not to mention hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
Rather than lighting a match during a blackout, have lots of lanterns and flashlights on hand as well as lots of backup batteries. Headlamps are a great way to navigate your home or yard in the dark, especially if you are trying to do something with your hands like start a generator! Which brings us to our next item . . .
- Generators can be a lifesaver
Generators are a great investment for people who live in storm-prone areas or in rural areas that may experience power outages for longer periods of time after a storm. A licensed electrician or HVAC mechanic can install a whole-home generator system that will automatically turn on when your power goes out. You can also purchase a stand-alone generator, but take the time to fill it with gas, purchase extra gas and have it ready to be hooked up prior to a storm coming.
Generators are especially critical for anyone with health issues that require consistent electricity. For elderly people who have trouble breathing, having access to air conditioning is critical. Diabetics who need to keep insulin and medications cold may need a generator to at least keep a refrigerator running and cool.
Purchase a generator or have one installed well ahead of hurricane season, because once the storms are coming, generator prices will skyrocket and units will sell out quickly.
- Have a Communication Plan in Place
Now is the time to sit down with your family and make a communication plan. Storms can change courses quickly and you and your family may not all be in the same place when a storm hits. In a case like this, you’ll need to know how to get in touch with each other, where to meet up, or how to let each other know you are safe if phone service is down. Ready.gov and FEMA have family communication plan templates that you can download and fill out in advance of a storm. They even have one specifically for kids to keep with them at all times with phone numbers, tips, maps and instructions on what to do in case of an emergency.
- Create a Supply Kit
One of the most important ways you can prepare for a hurricane is to have a hurricane preparedness supply kit ready to go at all times in a convenient spot. Check your bag annually to see if food has expired or if batteries need to be replaced. Ready.gov has an extensive list of items that should be in your supply kit, but a few things they suggest are:
- A gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
- A manual can opener
- Pliers or a wrench
- View the full list HERE.
- Special needs for furry friends and little ones
Your furry friends and little ones will need special items during a storm or in your preparedness kit. Formula or back-up breast milk may need to be stored in case of an emergency. The California Department of Public Health has many resources for feeding and caring for infants during a disaster. Make sure to also have plenty of changes of clothing and back up diapers as well as well as any medications, baby aspirin and other OTC medications specifically dosed for children.
For your furry friends, always keep an extra bag of their food in your supply kit, and for every pet you have, add another gallon of water to your stash. Collapsible or travel bowls for food and water are also great items to add to your supply kit. You may also want to do some research in advance of a storm, if you plan to evacuate, on hotels that are pet-friendly. Never leave your pets behind in a storm!
Hurricanes and tropical storms are a part of life on the East Coast, but by following these steps and using these resources, you can minimize the negative impact they have on you, your property and your family!