Preparing for a major hurricane is what I’ve been trained to do, professionally and in my own home. I’m by far a specialist of any kind on the subject, but I’ve been in enough hurricanes in my life to have some experience on how to properly prepare for a major storm. I can provide some helpful tips and some time saving advice.
Listen to your local news on updates on what is happening around your town and local areas. If you live by the shore or any coastal area, you know to expect the worst of it. Listening to your local news will help track the storm. A battery operated radio is a great investment for situations such as these. The last thing you want to do is get stuck without any electricity and no way to get updates about the storm. During Hurricane Sandy, we had no cell service for a few days after the storm and terrible service for the rest of the week. Even emergency services lost all communication abilities.
School closures will also be announced so keep your ears open. Just because the weather looks nice in the morning, by the afternoon it could be a completely different story, so keep your kids safe at home.
State of Emergency:
Not many understand what that term actually mean. What is state of emergency mean? The answer is different from one state to the next, but will usually mean that government officially has the right to restrict certain procedures like flying in and out of airports or restricting people from driving during a major storm or even restricting use of water like during a drought. Regardless what state you reside in, listen to instructions on how your state is affected during an official state of emergency.
It’s actually a good idea not to wait to hear the announcement on the level of the approaching hurricane before you start preparing. The shelves at that point in time will probably be empty and you don’t want to get stuck with no food or essential supplies.
If your town has been officially declared to be in a state of emergency; an evacuation in some cases may follow. Should that occur, do not hesitate to pack quickly and leave the area as fast as you can. Material things can be replaced, but putting your life and the lives of your family in danger is foolish. Once an evacuation is announced, you can rest assure that it is more than likely the storm will be hit your area and cause a flood. Coastal areas will always flood first and follow through to in land. I’m more than positive that the last thing our city officials want to do is cause a panic unless it’s really necessary. If you need to evacuate and have no place to go, shelters will be open for those needing a place to stay.
Deal with all injuries immediately and analyze whether it’s worth a trip to the ER. If you should experience an injury during the storm that you can’t take care of on your own and you’re capable of making it to the hospital or emergency center on your own, understand you will not be the only one there and rushing you in may not be an emergency to the medical team who is dealing with much more complicated situations in the back. Be patient and understanding. If you do experience a true emergency, the medical staff will deal with the situation immediately. Coming in my ambulance, does not guarantee you a faster trip to get a room to see a doctor. You will be evaluation and sent to the waiting room if they feel it is not a life threatening emergency. There is only one thing you can count on and that is receiving a hefty bill for that exciting ride in the ambulance to the ER.
Keep a printed list of all your daily and weekly medications. It will be very convenient and lifesaving to have a ready list in case of an emergency where you are unable to respond. A family member will be able to provide the list to the doctor to make sure they take note of the medications that you are already taking. A mix of certain medications may lead to death.
The flyers that you threw away months ago with helpful tips on how to properly prepare for a hurricane during hurricane season that falls June 30 through November 1, well you need it! Besides the helpful tips, they also listed some important numbers that you will need during and after the hurricane. If you believe you still have it in your home and have some extra time, try to locate the flyer and keep it for emergency use. If you threw it away with the rest of the junk mail, then make some calls or do some research online as to who to contact in the event.
Emergency services are there to assist those who are not capable of helping themselves and need medical assistance. Do not call for emergency services unless you really need them. Also keep in mind that they are working under pressure too and will get to you when they can. They can’t help everyone at the same time, so be patient if at all possible. Calling multiple times, will not speed up the process, but will clog up their lines for other emergency calls.
Friends & Neighbors:
It’s ok to call on your neighbor for help. Keep them in the loop on the things you are doing to prepare and encourage them to do the same especially if your neighbor is older and needs the extra help.
Prepare an emergency bag just in case. Include your important documents such as your passport or birth certificate, license and social security card. Pack whatever you need to prove your identity. Better safe than sorry! If they get destroyed, it’s a hassle to get duplicates, not to mention expensive. Your medication is vital, so pack it first, especially if you have life threatening allergy or asthma. A change of clothes and extra socks, couple of waters, snacks that are high in calories and small enough to carry in your bag.
Preparing Your Home:
Close and lock all window and side doors. Move all the lawn furniture and items that can easily be lifted into your shed or bring them inside. Flying objects during the storm is very dangerous and could cause a lot of unnecessary damage to your home. Unplug all your electronic devices. Should there be a flood and water gets into your home, plugged in devices will cause a spark, a fire or worse electrocute someone in the home. Never hide in your basement during the storm; once it starts to flood, it’s very difficult to climb out. Try climbing higher instead, even the roof.
Supplies you’ll need:
Water! I can’t stress it enough, get plenty of water. It will not spoil, if you don’t use it. So buy, buy, and buy! Better to have and not need it, than need it and not have it.
If you own your own home and can spring for a new generator, get one soon. Remember to never place them directly into your home. They need to be outdoors only.
Purchase food that you know will not spoil quickly. Things such as dairy and meat are not a good idea. If the power goes out, all that food you purchased will go to waste. Trust me, I’ve been there. Canned food is best; just don’t forget a can opener. A can exposed to water will not ruin what’s on the inside and that’s important. There’s also no need to cook it or refrigerate it. I sometimes buy extra canned food during the summer in the event a hurricane hits. It’s all those years of living in Florida.
Purchase enough snack to last a minimum of one week. It’s best to purchase snacks that are single servings. That way you can eat a little at a time without having to worry about it spoiling. Whole grain cereals are great for snacking by the way. Powered soups are great for keeping warm and feeding those little fussy bellies. Although I’m very much against processed foods, in this situation, I can put all that aside. Same applies for powered milk and instant coffee.
Did you forget your little pooch or your kitty? Get plenty of food and water for your favorite family pets. Don’t forget the medication!
Even if the storm passes quickly and the damage is done, it will be days before the store can get any shipments of food delivered. Remember the roads may have been closed therefore preventing any deliveries of food and water reaching our destination.
Batteries and flashlights should be stored in a safe place until they are needed. I strongly encourage you to use flash lights instead of candles, unless the candles are placed in a permanent place and will not be moved. The last thing you need is people walking around with lit candles through your home. Accidents do happen, so be a step ahead of the game. Provide flashlights!
Prepare enough candles and matches to last at least a week. Calculate how many hours each candle can burn and how many you will need. This of course depends on how many rooms you plan on lighting and how many people will be staying by you. I would encourage parents to take extra precautions when children are around and give specific instructions on how to use them safely in your home.
Extra blankets and pillows should be placed in plastic bags until they are needed. If you have family, friends or neighbors staying by you, request for them to bring their own. You can provide if necessary, but keep yours safely tucked away from any water otherwise, needless to say they are useless.
Stock up on garbage bags, toilet paper, paper towels, paper dishes and utensils. There might not be any hot water, or water for that matter so doing dishes may not be possible. One time use paper goods will become a necessity. Make sure to pack the garbage tightly. There will be all kinds of rodents and bugs after the storm and leaving a garbage open is a bad idea.
If you have any tips you’d like to share with us, please do so below! We love to hear from our readers. Stay safe everyone!
By: Ida L.