No matter where you live, it’s practically impossible to ignore and vital to prepare for natural disasters! With the change in our climate, especially if you live along the coastlines, it pays to get organized, ‘Just in Case’ there’s a natural disaster!
On cue for hurricane & fire season, it’s time to prepare for natural disasters.
Do you have a plan i, know your evacuation route, and 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? Each of us has to assess our risk based upon the type of disaster, where we live and our personal resources. I get it! Until I moved to Charleston, SC, I didn’t think much about flooding. The fact that we give storms silly names goes to show that we belittle their threat, while at the same time media inflates our sense of fear! Don’t get stuck in the panic-preparation tug of war!
A few years ago I got my first taste of what Charleston (or any global coastal city/town) looked like with severe flooding and have witnessed it for the past few fall’s, on cue! With friends and family also living in fire-prone areas I realize that it’s not a matter of where you live, it’s a matter of when there might be a threat at your front door. I take emergency preparation seriously by having supplies and a plan in place which I can implement within a short time. It also helps to try to stay calm. For me, that means having a plan. If it hasn’t happened to you, you probably know someone else who was affected by hurricane and fire season. Hurricane season begins in May 15th through November 30th here in the Atlantic states. Fire season is more unpredictible but when winter and spring is dry, summer and fall mean fire threats go up!
Step-by-step Prep for Staying or Evacuating
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. Gas up, get cash, have maps and weather radio with you (and extra batteries).
Preparing your home & property for evacuations
- Hurricanes, board up your windows, close shutters etc. get in touch with someone to help you do heavy preparations early. Contractors book up EARLY with regular customers so put in your request or be prepared to pay premium for last minute contractors going door to door.
- Hurricanes, walk your property and secure or move anything that might get blown away indoors
- Fires, walk your property regularly and clear flamible landscape materials. Consider xeriscaping in hot, dry climates to minimize water needs
- All Prep, if you 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.
- All Prep, make plans for a hotel, friend or family within relatively close distance in case you need to evacuate.
- Hurricanes, decide what circumstances you will stay versus go. Don’t get swayed by the media or pressure from friends and family. Do what you are most comfortable with.
- All Prep, keep your eye on the storm/fires and begin your preparations early, having both your in place preparations and “bug out bag” ready to go.
- Hurricanes, sandbag and reinforce doors (even duct tape and expanding foam insulation around doors can be helpful!).
- All Prep, move valuables including artwork, furnishings and accessories away from windows, take what is most valuable (value=sentimental and/or monitary) if possible, don’t forget important papers!
- Hurricanes, if your in a flood prone area, move items off the floor and up off first story, put things into water proof plastic bins or up high on shelving, elevate furniture if you have time and want to make the effort especially for special items that may be irreplaceable
- Fires, if your in a fire prone area, prepare for replacement in worst case by having a full home inventory and taking valuables and important papers with you or protected in a fire proof safe. Remember that fire proof doesn’t mean indestructible and plan accordingly.
* (this is not an endorsement for Amazon or products sold there, please use it as a reference
If you stay…
- Have tarps, strong rope, duct tape and 2×4’s (cut to size of door/window jam) ready for roof, doors and window damage
- Have plenty of water and food for each person
- Don’t count on technology or basic resources (safe drinking water, electricity etc). Be prepared to boil water, go without power, use a generator etc.
- Talk to your neighbors and know who else is staying or leaving
- Move cars in flood prone areas to higher ground
- If you have an attic and are in a flood prone area, have a flotation device and way to get onto the roof (attic) in case you need to get out of the house
- Don’t count on being rescued! You just never know if EMT, police or others will be able to get to you
A well-stocked supply kit includes:
- 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)-rotate out perishables seasonally
- 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.
Get Started Now…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. 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.
We can’t be ostriches, we must be aware and prepared.
You don’t have to do it all at once, start to prepare for natural disasters with emergency supplies today, don’t wait till the last minute.