Written by Faith Anderson on August 26, 2011
Stock up on the Necessities
One of the most important things to do in preparation for a severe hurricane is to ensure that you have everything you may need should your family become trapped or stranded for a long period of time, especially if there is a power outage. This includes canned foods, bottled water, gasoline for the car, ice, cash, and important documents like marriage licenses, birth certificates, photos and insurance paperwork. Should the power go out for an extended period of time, it may be necessary to stock your food on ice in a cooler so that your family can eat it without it spoiling. If the storm is bad enough, your water supply may also be compromised, which is why it is important to stock up on bottles or gallons of water for drinking as well as bathing. It is also important to ensure that you have enough candles and flashlights for your family to use in the dark, and to make sure your cell phones are fully charged in case you are unable to charge them for a few days or even a week.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
Storms like Hurricane Irene are most dangerous when they are unexpected. Do some research to determine whether or not your area is likely to suffer the worst of the hurricane so that you can be prepared. If you are tracking the hurricane, you will be less likely to feel helpless against it, and you will also know when it’s about to strike your area or head in another direction. Many “hurricane tracking” applications have been developed for smart phones in order to make keeping an eye on the weather easier, the price of which averages about $2.99. It’s important to be aware of when the hurricane might hit, especially if you are constantly on the go during the day, picking up your kids from school, traveling to and from work, or running errands. That way, you will know exactly when its time to abandon your routine and find safe shelter.
Guard your Windows
If you plan to stay in your home during the hurricane, it is imperative that you make it as secure and safe as possible. Windows should become barricades against heavy winds and rains, and even flying objects carried by the hurricane. First, you should limit the number of things located outside that could break your windows, including outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations, and anything else that isn’t tied down. All trees and shrubs should be well-trimmed to avoid any dangerous falling branches or trees. Second, you should fortify the windows themselves by boarding them up with plywood or using hurricane shutters. Some people even opt for hurricane-proof glass for their windows.
Make a Simple but Effective Disaster Plan
By developing a family disaster plan, you can make sure that you are organized and that everyone in your family is on the same page. When a hurricane hits it’s easy to become panicked; it’s important to remain calm and follow your plan. The National Hurricane Center has a checklist that can serve as a template for your disaster plan, and includes things like discussing: “vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind,” the evacuation of any pets, and possible escape routes “measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles.” In addition to your immediate family, a well-constructed disaster plan should include neighbors and nearby friends and family. You should consider whether and how you will maintain communication with them during and after the hurricane, and whether or not you can work together if necessary.
Be Careful Once it’s Over
The potential dangers associated with a hurricane don’t disappear as soon as the storm passes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers some pointers about what to do during the hours and days after a hurricane, including repairing damaged parts of your house and clearing out flooded areas. According to the American Red Cross, “When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t risk injury or infection.” There may also be emotional ramifications to deal with following the hurricane, as well as physical ones. The most important step in healing from traumas, according to FEMA, is to acknowledge your feelings and focus “on your strengths and abilities.” It is normal for you to feel sad, angry, or shaken after a serious event like a hurricane; talk with others about the ordeal you have been through and you can help each other rebuild.