Published Date: 06/16/2014
By Reneé Watkins
For the Atlantic coast, the six-month hurricane season began on June 1st and will continue through November 30th. Hurricanes are a dangerous force of nature that can cause serious injury and damage to those who are unprepared. Unlike tornados, however, people in the likely path of a hurricane are warned far enough in advance to adequately prepare for such a strike.
Below are a few suggestions that can help you better prepare for hurricanes. Many of these steps can apply to any disaster situation and may be completed well in advance.
Make a Plan That Includes Family and Friends
There may be people who depend on you and on whom you depend. Be sure your plan includes them. After the hurricane, know how you plan to communicate with each other. Also, make sure everyone on your list follows the same preparedness steps listed here, in case you are unable to physically get to one another for a few days.
Plan and Rehearse an Evacuation Route
Prior to a disaster, you may be asked to evacuate an area. Make sure you have a list of everything you need to take with you (medications, clothes, valuables). Not knowing where you will be after an evacuation, it is important to resist any temptation to pack more than necessary. Do not try to evacuate with TVs, furniture or any items that are not easily and quickly gathered and transported. Practice and memorize your evacuation route, as it may be dark and power may be out in your area.
Importance of Digital Information
Today, your smartphone may already have your important contacts and prescription information stored in memory. If not, make sure you add in all the information you would need if you were away from home for an extended period of time. Also, download and subscribe to apps that will provide you with critical information like weather and traffic during a disaster and/or evacuation.
Food and Water
Hurricanes tend to bring torrential rains for extended periods, which in turn cause flooding and backups within water treatment facilities. Also, resulting power outages often last for days or even weeks before power is restored. Make sure you have plenty of drinking water set aside. Stock up on foods that do not need to be refrigerated or frozen and can be either eaten without cooking, or could be cooked on a gas or charcoal grill. Do not guess about food that may have spoiled.
Power-Dependent Medical Needs
Patients who routinely require dialysis to maintain their health should be aware of facilities in their area equipped with power backup equipment. Also, in the event of an evacuation, be aware of other facilities along your evacuation route that offer the type of care you require. Patients who are dependent on insulin or other drugs requiring refrigeration should have a plan for these medications. It may require evacuating due to the threat of a power outage, even if an official evacuation is not mandated.