No matter where you live, it’s practically impossible to ignore natural disasters and the change in our climate, especially for those of us who live along the coastlines. It pays to get organized, ‘Just in Case’ there’s a natural disaster!
On cue for Hurricane season, it’s time to talk Emergency Preparedness.
Do you have a plan in place, know your evacuation route, have supplies ready?
Maybe you have some of this in place and figure you will just “wing it” if you need to. Chances are it won’t happen to you right? Wrong! Each of us has to assess our risk based upon the type of disaster, where we live and our personal resources.
Until 5 years ago I didn’t think much about flooding. I did survive the double snowmageddon blizzard in Maryland in early 2011. Just the fact that we give storms silly names goes to show that we belittle their threat unless we have personally experienced something tragic.
Last fall I got my first taste of what Charleston (or any global coastal city/town) looked like with severe flooding. We had over 20″ of rain in 2 days. I live on the marsh in a home that by today’s standards is well below the required building height. I still felt secure knowing that this house made it through Hurricane Hugo without flooding. If things had been slightly different, it might not have though and the same could be said for the flooding last fall.
For the last 2 fall’s I’ve taken emergency preparation very personally. I know there are a lot of others who have had to undergo the process of preparing for or cleaning up from disasters for the first time in the past couple years. If it didn’t happen to you, you probably know someone else who was affected by hurricane season. Trust me when I say it’s not something to take lightly! Hurricane season begins in May 15th through November 30th here in the Atlantic states.
2 years ago, we experienced a flash flood in a matter of minutes (10-15) at our home. As many times as you hear this, somehow it just does not register but let me tell you, it is fast and crazy and unexpected! So Please Be prepared! The city and county systems were overloaded, the drains were overflowing, the sewers were backing up…it was a mess!
Quick thinking (on my husband’s part) kept us safe but if we had much more water there wouldn’t have been anything we could do. Our neighbor’s car was totaled…we were lucky! It certainly taught me about living on the coast and the power of water (near rivers or elsewhere). I am now taking preparedness more seriously and have supplies and a plan in place which I can implement within a short time as needed.
If you have time and don’t have a full home inventory, walk from room to room and take pictures of furnishings and valuables before you evacuate, schedule it or just do it NOW. It’s better to have this than nothing! If personal property is damaged and you have to make an insurance claim, things might not be the way you left them and it will be emotional and difficult to recall what may be lost.
Have a well-stocked supply kit, rotate perishable item’s out seasonally. The Basic’s of your kit will include:
- 3-day Supply of Food and Water (1 Gal/person/day, nonperishable food, can opener, utensils, cooler with Ice & make a game of eating all the food in the fridge-then freezer)
- Pet Care (food, medications, bowls, water, leash etc)
- Health Supplies (medications, hearing aids, etc)
- Personal Care Items (soap, wipes, toothbrush, TP, etc)
- Safety Supplies (first aid, flashlights, lanters/candles, whistle, multi tool like a swiss army knife)
- Electronics (cell phone, charger, extra batteries)
- Essential Documents-ready to go in a water safe/transportable container (a ziploc bag, a small file box etc), for more on what to bring see this post.
- Books/music, games ready to entertain you and your family in case of power outages.
Have a plan for Staying and Evacuating, either way, gas up, get cash, have maps and weather radio with you (and extra batteries).
Most local municipalities have guides for evacuation and preparedness on their websites and printed, often distributed at the beginning of the season (for Hurricanes, June-November). Download or pick one up and review it. Plans change so what you thought might have been the evacuation route last year might not be the same this year.
If you stay, board up your windows, sandbag doors (even duct tape and expanding foam insulation around doors can be helpful!), move valuables away from windows and up off first story floors (store in water proof plastic bins), have tarps ready for roof and window damage. Hurricane’s certainly are not the only natural disaster and we can also experience fire damage, earthquakes, wind/hail and other tragedies. We can’t prepare exactly the same way for all these disasters, but the list above is a good start and just consider what the threats are for your geographic area.
Don’t count on technology or basic resources (safe drinking water, electricity etc).
In recent years too many communities have had to go through natural disasters on a more frequent basis. As our global climate changes (because I believe without a doubt that it is!) more of us will be affected by these kinds of weather and emergency events.
Get Started this weekend…maybe it will look something like this small kit of clothing, toiletries (which I keep on the ready at all times) and a few other basics.
Gather what you feel you need and review your plan with your family. If you love making lists, you can get the Red Cross list here and create a kit for each household member. Keep your list with your kit so you can quickly assess if everything is in place. Schedule a reminder for yourself to double check it a couple times a year. Either when you check your smoke alarms or when you change out clothes seasonally.
We can’t be ostriches, we must be aware and prepared.
You don’t have to do it all at once, but please start working on your emergency preparedness kit and list today.