Severe weather can take you by surprise by damaging your property or causing a longer-than-expected power outage. There's no way of knowing whose houses will be negatively impacted by a storm. Thus, it's essential for everyone, no matter where they live in the US, to prepare for all possible natural disasters. Although rare, tropical storms could hit the west coast.
The Importance of Learning from Past Storms
If you were inconvenienced by a past storm, then you already have an idea of how to better prepare yourself for future storms. Life is unpredictable sometimes. Even if a natural disaster is unusual for where you live, it could happen. The ice storms across the South are just one example of this. You should prepare yourself and your family for all types of natural disasters.
Much of standard hurricane prep will prepare you for any type of storm, but you should also consider supplies for freezing temperatures. You will want hand warmers and high-quality blankets or sleeping bags designed to keep you warm in freezing temperatures.
Some of the most important lessons from past storms:
• Have at least a two-week supply of non-perishable food
• Prepare a three-day supply of shelf food for a potential evacuation
• Store one gallon of water per person per day
• Maintain an updated first aid kit
• Have LED flashlights and unexpired batteries
• Create an evacuation plan
Before hurricane season begins, you should check the expiration dates and quantities of your emergency supplies. Restock what you need to be properly prepared. Take your car in for an inspection to reduce the chances of car problems during a hurricane or another storm.
Keep sufficient cleaning supplies on hand too. If you have to clean up debris after a storm, you will need protective work gloves. Other essential cleaning supplies to store are bleach, gloves for house cleaning, a bucket, scrub brushes, sponges, scouring pads, disinfectant dish soap, laundry detergent, cleaning towels and heavy-duty trash bags.
Put Together Your Family Safety Plan
Your family safety plan covers what to do during natural disasters, house fires and burglaries. Designate a family safety spot: a location in the home that keeps your family safest from storms. A storm shelter is ideal, but if you don't have one, then choose a room that doesn't have windows. Long hallways, interior bathrooms, and basements are suitable choices. They keep your family safest from the high winds.
You should designate a primary outdoor meeting spot and an alternative outdoor meeting spot too. Sometimes, a disaster separates part of your family, which is why you need outdoor meeting spots. If there is a house fire, then you want the family to meet outside.
For young children, it's helpful to give them a color-coded escape route diagram. It's easier for kids to remember and grasp how to get out of the house with a colorful diagram. Use their favorite color for the primary escape route.
Create an evacuation plan in case you need to evacuate the home. Look up your city's evacuation zones to know where it's most likely to experience severe impacts from hurricanes. You'll want to avoid driving through those areas during a storm. Prepare in advance multiple routes you could take to evacuate. Even if your area isn't in an evacuation zone, officials may require that you evacuate, so having a plan is essential in hurricane prep.
With each hurricane set to impact your city, you should take into consideration which cities in your state it will impact the most. Arrange for a potential evacuation outside of these areas. You could plan on staying with a family member or friend. When that's not possible, look up hotels and shelters.
Prepare a bug-out bag in case you need to evacuate. Each family member should have their own bag. This emergency relocation kit will contain food, water, and emergency supplies to tide you over for 72 hours. Bring flashlights and batteries too.
Items that you need in your bug-out bag:
You might not have access to safe drinking water for a few days while relocating because of an evacuation order. Hotels in neighboring cities can be booked fast.
When you evacuate, your primary concern is finding shelter. You don't want the stress of thinking about food on top of that.
Have certainty you'll be able to use your battery-operated supplies in an emergency situation. Duracell is a reliable brand with a long shelf life.
If you become stranded somewhere, you need a light source to see when it's dark out. Power outages are also possible everywhere, so you want to be prepared.
A NOAA radio gives you 24/7 updates on the weather to make your travel safer. You shouldn't rely on your car's radio in case your car breaks down or gets into an accident.
First Aid Kit
Just as you should have a first aid kit in your car, you want to include a first aid kit in your go-bag. If you're injured in an emergency situation, you can at least tend to your wounds until you're able to see a doctor.
A multi-tool helps save space and weight in your pack by offering multiple functionalities, such as breaking glass, cutting seat belts and starting fires, in one tool. The ability to break a window is important because it allows you to escape the car if it's rapidly filling with water or you need to get out after an accident.
Don't forget to bring common medications you may need like pain relievers, cough drops and digestive aids. You never know when you or a family member will fall ill.
If you have canned goods in your emergency food supplies, then remember to pack a can opener in your go-bag.
Dust masks can protect you from fine particles in the air and others from the spread of viruses. The best type of dust mask is an N95 respirator because it offers the highest level of filtering.
If someone's clothing rips during your escape or evacuation, you can temporarily repair it with duct tape. Duct tape can also seal windows, stop leaks, repair bags, repair shoes and assist in starting fires.
You need a non-toxic way to clean messes during emergency situations. After eating food, you can use a moist towelette to clean off your hands.
An emergency blanket traps up to 90% of your body heat to keep you warm. This is helpful if you aren't able to secure shelter and it's cold at night.
You need an emergency whistle in case you're ever in a situation in which you're waiting on rescue crews to find you.
Cell phone service sometimes goes down during a storm. Thus, you still need old-school paper maps to get around if you need to evacuate.
Evacuating with Pets
You need to bring your pets with you if you evacuate. Pack at least three days worth of supplies for your pet, including food, water and medication. Bring a swaddle blanket for pets in case your pet is struggling with fear and stress over the extreme weather. Some vets offer sheltering services during emergencies if you're struggling to find a place that will allow you to bring pets with you.
Practice Makes Perfect
You need to regularly practice your family safety plan. Practice the plan under different conditions, including day, night and rainy weather. If you expect the family to climb down a fire escape ladder in an emergency, then also practice this. Going through the motions help people develop confidence and reduce the fear they will feel during a real emergency. Practice your family safety plan under varying conditions at least once a year.
The Weather Channel is a good source for quickly checking the weather in your area. They will alert you to tropical storms and hurricanes brewing as well. Also stay connected with BJ's Wholesale Club for deals on emergency supplies, including generators, food, water and medical supplies.