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Friday, October 1, 2010

Steps to take before a Hurricane arrives

“You do not have to be a hurricane, to turn things around”

- Loesje (Dutch Fictional character)

As discussed yesterday, Hurricane Earl reminded me that hurricane season is upon us. Here is a not so simple list of things you should do before a storm hits.
1. Food Safety
  • Set the freezer temperature at or below 0 °F. Set the refrigerator just below 40 °F.
  • Fill many clean soda bottles with water and freeze them (don’t fill to the top, leave some room for ice expansion). The frozen water bottles can also be used in the refrigeration and coolers. When melted, you can drink the water. 
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat that spoil easily. 
  • A full freeze will stay cold longer.
  • Have coolers on hand. After a hurricane, place refrigerated food you want to use in coolers and then leave the fridge and freeze closed.
2. Food & Water
  • Stock up on drinking water – 1 gallon per person per day. Pets need water too. Tap water will NOT be safe to drink after a hurricane.
  • Have enough ready to eat food on hand for family and pets for at least three days, preferably one week or more. You may need to feed yourself for a week with no working stove or microwave. 
  • Pack your food and water so you can quickly move to your car if you must evacuate.
3. Lights
  • With no power the night is really dark. Stock up on flashlights, batteries, lanterns, etc. The Red Cross discourages candles - too many house fires from candle accidents. Encourage going to bed when the sun sets or you’ll run out of lighting real fast.
4. Stay Informed
  • Get a battery-powered or hand-crank radio. Store extra batteries if needed.
  • Cell phones are great but how will you keep it charged? Consider hand crank rechargers and rechargers that plug into the car cigarette lighter. There are also solar power rechargers.  
5. Evacuation Preparation
  • Create a portable evacuation kit for each family member and each pet.
  • Select an evacuation location – where will you go? A hotel out of the emergency region? A friend or relative’s house far away? An emergency shelter? A camp ground?
  • If camping, you’ll need to pack camping gear like a tent and sleeping bags or blankets.
  • Maps and/or GPS – how will you get out of town? Some roads may be closed as traffic is forced along official evacuation routes.
  • Communication Plan – how can you be contacted after evacuating? Share your cell phone and email with friends, family and religious leader(s).
  • Family Reunion Plan – if your family is separated by work, school, etc, how will you locate each other afterwards? Details will follow in another email.
  • Pet Plan – Red Cross shelters and many hotels will not accept pets. Or the friend you’re going to stay with is allergic to cats. Will you take your pet with you?
  • Keep at least a 1/2 tank of gas in your car. Don't expect to find gas if an evacuation is ordered.
6. Health
  • Make a list of all medications used by family members (and pets). Record the dosage and frequency. You may need this if someone is hospitalized or forgets to pack a medication.
  • Make or buy First Aid Kits. Keep one in the house and another in each car. Clean any and all wounds – infection is a serious problem after floods and hurricanes. 
  • With no water pressure, your toilet won’t flush. Have a toilet plan be it buckets and bags, grey water for flushing, a pit in the backyard, etc. Do you have a week’s supply of toilet paper?
  • Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water beforehand. Use the water for sponge baths and then use the soapy water for toilet flushing.
  • Pack feminine supplies and personal hygiene items. Stress does funny things to bodies.
7. Important Papers
  • Make copies of important documents: driver's license, Social Security card, proof of residence, insurance policies, wills, deeds, birth and marriage certificates, tax records, etc. Take these with you if you evacuate.
  • Write down the name and phone number for insurance policies, bank accounts, family physicians, etc. Who might you need to call after the emergency and away from home?
  • Have a photograph of each family member and pet. You may need this if they become lost or separated.
  • Make copies of irreplaceable family photos.
  • Take a video or photographs of your house BEFORE the hurricane to show an insurance agent when you make claims. This way you can prove that big hole was not in the roof beforehand.
  • Pack cash and credit/debit cards. During the Katrina evacuation some cash stations refused cash because they feared being robbed. In areas without power, you’ll need cash or barter items.
8. Peace of Mind
  • Emergencies are stressful, especially for young children who don’t understand. Have comfort food and comfort items on hand and ready to go. Include favorite books and toys. Include a Book of Mormon and song books.
  • Keep children busy with tasks or coloring books. Ask older siblings to entertain younger ones.
  • Pack plenty of aspirin or equivalent for headaches and pain. (Aspirin can be dangerous for young children).
  •  Don’t forget diaper rash ointment, teething gels, and other items to ease a crying infant.
  • Sleep is essential to maintain strength. Pack a favorite pillow or anything else that will help you sleep.
9. Prepare your Home
  • Cover all of your windows with pre-cut ply wood or hurricane shutters to protect your windows from high winds. No plywood? Crisscross the windows with duct tape.
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else not tied down.
  • Trim trees and shrubs to make them wind resistant.
  • Turn off propane tanks and gas lines.
  • Store your boat if you have one.

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