*Hurricane Preparedness and Survival*
There is a great deal of planning and preparation that is needed before a hurricane hits. Should you evacuate? Where should you go? What will you take with you? Should you ride out the storm? What will you need to ride out the storm? Where can you get help?
These are some of the questions that will be answered in this article, or will help you to answer them.
What to do before a hurricane hits.
You need to plan ahead. You need to have these tasks done before a hurricane watch is issued. That is the time to review your plan and start putting your plans in action.
* Plan your evacuation route and have several back-up routes. Interstates may not be the best route from a time perspective.
* Have a back-up route preplanned. You should take an afternoon drive ahead of time to scout out the route. There may be road construction that would be a choking point in an evacuation.
* Have these routes marked on a map.
* Know where the evacuation shelters are located. Some of the links below have all the shelters on them. You may not be able to get into the first few shelters that you find. Itís best to know where the alternatives are.
* Make sure you know all the phone numbers of people you need to contact. Have them written down somewhere other than in the memory of your cell phone.
* Have a plan for your pets. Public emergency shelters will not take pets under any circumstances other than if they are service animals as for assisting the blind. There are shelters that accept pets, but there arenít that many of them.
* Figure out what you are going to take with you and see if it will all fit in your vehicle. Thereís nothing worse than over packing. Plan on packing the life essential stuff first. Whatís more important, the pictures of grandma or the hair dryer?
* If it looks like you may have to evacuate, call the place where you are going and make sure they have room for you. Also call your back-up location and let them know you may end up there.
* Make sure you have a 30-day supply of prescription medications.
* If you have a scanner, make sure you have the frequencies that you want.
* Have cash on-hand. You never know when the power will go out and ATMís will not work.
* Have a full tank of gas in your vehicle.
* Have a full 5-gallon can of gas in the garage. If you wait until the last minute to evacuate, you may not be able to fill up.
* Make sure all of your vehicles tires, including the spare, are serviceable and inflated properly.
* Save old plastic milk containers or soda bottles. Wash them out and fill them with water. Or better yet, buy 1- or 2-gallon ice cream containers, they stack easier. Put them in the freezer and leave them there. They will take a long time to melt and will keep your food colder longer. Then they can be used as drinking or utility water.
* Make a videotape recording of your property. This could help with insurance claims, and also help you identify anything that is missing after the storm.
* Know how to track a storm by listening to the coordinates. If the power goes out and you only have a radio, you will want to keep up with the path of the storm on your own hurricane tracking map. You will also want to know how to plot how far from the eye that the hurricane force winds are. The weather report will give you this information; you just need to plot it on your map.
What to take with you when you evacuate.
* Insurance policies Ė health, life, auto, homeownerís.
* Important family documents such as birth certificates, passports, health records that you keep at home.
* Phone numbers of friends and relatives, but also of the contractors you work with.
* Irreplaceable items such as pictures or family heirlooms. But remember that your life is more important than any heirloom. You must prioritize.
* 3 days supply of food
* Take about $200 in cash or an amount you think is appropriate
* 3 days supply of pet food (if necessary)
* 3 days supply of baby food, diapers, wipes, ointment, etc. (if necessary) * 3 days supply of clothing
* A power inverter. This plugs into your vehicleís cigarette lighter and provides AC power. This can be used to charge your cell phone, plug in a hair dryer, or an extension cord for some uses in the house. You need to determine what you plan to use it for to determine what size inverter you need.
House preparation prior to evacuation.
The following items should be stored in a large plastic tub with a lid that can be fastened. This tub should be placed in a closet toward the inside of the house.
* Tarps Ė Used to put a patch on the roof. Determine the size of your roof and plan accordingly. I store a 2,000 square foot roll.
* Duct tape Ė This can be used to add strength to the tarp. I tear off a 4 inch strip and place it on the edge of the tarp. Apply the tape so that there is a two inch strip overlapping and sandwiching the tarp. This would be where the nails would be inserted to secure tarp to the roof.
* Roofing nails
* Hammers (2)
* Leather work gloves (2 pair)
* Garbage bags
* Paper towels
* Toilet paper
* Drinking water Ė you need to plan for two gallons of water per person per day. You can store the water in several ways. Determine which way is best for you.
* Utility water Ė this is water that can be used for clean-up, mopping, or to flush toilets. An easy way to store this is to fill up garbage bags in the bathtub. You can put about 5 gallons in each bag, seal it up with duct tape, and store it right in the tub. You can get about 30 gallons of water in the tub with no problem. Cover the water bags with cardboard and put something sturdy over the top of it in case debris is flying in the house. It is best not to store the water directly in the bathtub for this reason. It needs to be in a container.
* Put a weekís worth of clothing in plastic tubs or garbage bags and put them in an interior closet. These would be for clean-up if your house is badly damaged.
* Put towels, blankets and bed linens in plastic bags.
* Put valuables that you donít want to get wet or damaged in plastic tubs in an interior closet. Put duct tape around the container to seal it. (This is for items that you donít take with you.)
* Put any medications of first aid supplies in plastic tubs, tape them up and put them in a closet.
* If you have a chain saw, put it somewhere accessible.
* Secure all outside equipment such as lawn or patio furniture, garden hoses, swing sets, toys, grills, bicycles, etc. These can get blown around or blown away causing damage to them or to property.
* Move the grill inside the garage or inside your house. It may be the only source of food preparation if the electricity is out. If itís a charcoal grill, store the charcoal in a trash bag and seal it with duct tape. If it is a gas grill, disconnect the gas tank and store the tank in the garage or be sure it is fully closed before storing it in the house.
What to do if you decide to ride out the storm.
* First, you need to reconsider your decision to ride out the storm. Itís usually the people who are too stubborn to evacuate that end up dieing in the storm. Evacuation is best. Those that have ridden out the worst of the hurricanes say that it was the most terrifying event they have ever experienced. You canít protect your house in 100 MPH winds.
* Many people state that you should determine where the winds are coming from and then establish your safe room on the furthest side of the house from the winds. In a hurricane the winds often change direction over time, especially if you are closer to the eye of the storm. It may be best to have a location in the central part of the house where you will have protection at all times and not have to relocate to another room during the storm.
* Make sure you have a good portable radio. Itís best to have one that has digital numbers so that it is easier to adjust the tuner. Keep spare batteries close at hand.
* Have extra flashlights available. We have one large on per person and one small LED flashlight on a keychain. That way if the big one gets lost or the batteries need to be changed, you have your spare flashlight to help you see.
* If you have a cell phone, keep the power off until you need to use it. It should be used for emergencies only and not simply to talk to somebody throughout the storm. You should try to save the battery because if it dies, you may not be able to recharge it if power to your neighborhood is lost.
* Have something to nail up on the inside of the house if a window gets blown in from the winds. A 4 foot by 4 foot piece of plywood would be the best, but if you donít have it, you can use a closet door.
* Battery operated lanterns with extra batteries.
* Flashlights with extra batteries.
* Candles are optional but not recommended.
* Weather radio.
* Rain ponchos, 1 per person
* A good first aid kit
* Safety glasses in case you need to go outside for something
* Pocket knife
* Disposable box cutter
* Duct tape
* Matches or a lighter
* Power inverter for your car.
If your home has been damaged and/or the power is out, the last thing you will want to worry about is having to cook a meal. Be able to go at least 2 days without cooking any meals. There are plenty of foods available such as fruits, breads, nuts, peanut butter, snack bars, etc. You can have drink powder available to mix with water.
Other considerations are:
* Canned goods
* Cooking utensils
* Manual can opener
Important Federal and State Emergency Information
FEMA: To apply for assistance, call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362)
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Texas: Texas Department of Emergency Management
Dept of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
Mississippi: 800-222-MEMA (6362)
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
Alabama Emergency Management Agency
Florida Department of Emergency Management
Georgia Emergency Management Agency
South Carolina: 803-737-8500
SC Emergency Management Division
North Carolina: 800-858-0368
NC Division of Emergency Management
All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright © 1996 - 2005 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.