Taking a little time to prepare for Hurricane Season is well worth the investment. It won’t cost you lots of money and the preparations you make are good for any other type of emergency such as ice storms, blizzards, power outages, fire, flooding, earthquakes and nuclear plant disasters.
The first thing you need to do is make a Family Disaster Plan. This should be a checklist that the whole family helps create. Spend a Saturday afternoon with your family working on this. It can be a fun family bonding experience!
Discuss the type of disasters that could likely impact your family. Hurricanes, flooding, fire, ice storms, blizzards, nuclear plant disasters, chemical spills from trains or on the highway. Any of these events could displace your family for extended periods of time. We have all seen the heart wrenching images of the Hurricane Katrina victims going for days or weeks without fresh water, food, medicine, diapers and baby formula.
Sometimes disaster strikes when we are not expecting it, like Hurricane Andrew in Florida did. Since no one expected the storm to come ashore, they let their guard down. When the disaster strikes, your family members may be scattered all over the city just like they are every day. The kids are at different schools, the parents are at different work locations. This is a recipe for chaos if you don’t have a plan.
Have an emergency phone list posted in your home and program those numbers in each family members cell phone.
Identify escape routes from your home and places to meet if you become separated such as a close relative’s house, school or church.
Identify a family contact that lives in another state, so all your family members have a single point of contact to communicate with. Teach your kids how to call 911 and what to say when they call.
Create a safe room in your house. This room should be an interior room with no windows. You can even store your portable disaster supply kit in there.
Learn the evacuation routes for where you live and the shelter locations. Anyone that lives near a large body of water see’s the evacuation route signs on the road everyday but never really pays attention to them. If you think that morning rush hour traffic is bad, just wait until an evacuation occurs. Knowing all the ways out could be the difference between a smooth evacuation or sitting on the highway until you run out of gas.
Decide what you would do with the family pets should you have to evacuate. This is a touchy subject, but hte fact is that you may not be able to take your pets with you to a shelter.
Lastly, you need to create a portable disaster supply kit. This should be a backpack or plastic bin that will fit in your car. It should contain the following items at a minimum:
Non perishable foods and bottled water.
Flashlights, batteries and a portable radio.
A 15 day supply of any prescriptions you may be taking.
Baby essentials such as diapers and formula.
Matches or lighter
Bar Soap and Hand Sanitizer
Tooth brushes and toothpaste
First Aid Kit
Remember, a little preparedness can go a long way to making your family safer and more comfortable in the event of a disaster.