With ominous reports of category-something hurricanes, it’s easy to get caught-up in a bit of the (dare I say) “fun panic” usually associated with stock-piling bread, eggs and milk during winter storm warnings. However, as I’ve been telling my boys: let’s be prepared and not scared. Provided below are some tips to keep your family calm before (and hopefully during) a storm.
In general plan days ahead to avoid empty store shelves, empty ATMs or stuck in traffic evacuating.
Unplug and batten down
- Put away anything that can be picked up by wind (bicycles, loose toys, lawn furniture).
- Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible so if the power goes out, your food can last longer.
- Unplug small appliances and turn off propane tanks.
- Fill your car’s gas tank.
Let’s make a kit
- Building a supply kit together with your children can make a storm seem like an adventure. Look around your home for the following items scavenger-hunt style. Fill in any gaps with a shopping list and buy what you feel is necessary to your own kit.
- Water and non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Moist towelettes, hand sanitizer and garbage bags
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities
- Imagination: Make up stories together (It was a dark and stormy night …), sing songs, color in coloring books!
- First aid kit
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
- Cash or traveler’s checks and change
- Fire Extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
Develop a Family Emergency Communications Plan in case family members are separated from one another during an emergency (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school, camp, or a friend’s house). This plan should also address reunification after the immediate crisis passes. Also consider putting together plans for evacuation, utility shut-off, and safety skills.
- Figure out an evacuation plan together: How would you all safely leave the house or area?
- Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for your pets to be cared for.
- Evacuate if advised by authorities. Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
Watch or Warning?
A hurricane watch means a hurricane is possible in your area. Be prepared to evacuate. Monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments. A hurricane warning is when a hurricane is expected in your area. If local authorities advise you to evacuate, leave immediately.