The start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is just a few weeks away and, according to several forecasting agencies, a very active season is expected. While the science of meteorology has not yet evolved to tell us exactly how many storms will impact land, history tells us that the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast will likely experience some impacts from a tropical storm. or storms in the next few months.
As we have learned from previous storms and the global COVID-19 pandemic, anticipating and preparing for such events can reduce the extreme of their impact. Therefore, before a tropical system threatens your area, we encourage you to take an inventory of your household and create both shelter-in-place and escape plans for your family.
In the paragraphs below, you will find suggestions for supplies you will need if you have to weather a hurricane in your home or move to a shelter. Note that these lists are not exhaustive – every family is unique and has specific needs – but they should help you prepare for a natural disaster.
If you are in a hurry, we offer below some ready-made lists of our various partners.
Food and water
Water and non-perishable food items should be essential in any emergency kit. Make sure there is one gallon per person per day of water, for a total of at least 7 days. Avoid stocking up on fresh foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and meat. Instead, stock up on non-perishable items like canned soups, dried fruits and vegetables, breads, crackers, cereals, and protein packets. Also, don’t forget to buy a manual can opener. And finally, don’t forget about supplies for your infants, including canned or powdered milk, infant formula, and diapers.
You will need to plan for your pets just like you would for humans. Be aware that many escape shelters do not accept pets, so it is vital to prepare a safe place for them before the storm hits. Ask your local vet about shelters that will keep your pets safe during and after the storm, until you can safely return to pick them up.
If you are sheltering with your pet or staying in a shelter that accepts animals, you will need an emergency kit to meet their needs. Similar to humans, your pet will need a gallon of water per day, enough food, and all necessary medications for up to 2 weeks. Pack their food and water bowls with paper pads for your dogs and litter boxes for your cats.
You’ll also want to bring a copy of your pets’ documentation, which includes their vaccine information, their vet’s phone number and location, ownership documentation, and ID tags. You will need these items when you bring them to a shelter and when you return to pick them up.
If you are sheltering in place, you will need clothing that will keep you dry and comfortable. It is usually very hot after the start of a hurricane. Make sure you have a full change of clothes, rain gear, and sturdy waterproof footwear.
Think about the types of clothes you will take when you are ordered to evacuate. You may not be able to return home for days or even weeks after a hurricane. Make sure you and your family each have clean clothes for up to a week after the storm hits. Bring items that will keep you comfortable at night, including blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows.
Toilet paper, paper towels and sanitary wipes are often overlooked. Shelters do not always provide these essentials. Disinfecting soap, dry shampoo, and basic hygiene products are also great ideas for staying clean and healthy, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Plus, don’t forget to call your doctor and pharmacy before the storm hits to get essential medications. Make sure you have enough medication to last through the event and into the weeks after. This includes insulin, inhalers, epi-pens, and other life-saving medications. Have a medical kit on hand that includes bandages, disinfectant, instant cold compresses, face masks, aspirin, and ibuprofen.
If you’re weathering the storm at home, you may need to do some basic repairs to keep your space dry and safe. A basic tool kit including hammer, nails and screws, saw, wrench, tarp and screwdriver is recommended. These tools will also come in handy if you need to manually turn off utilities, such as gas or water pipes, which may be damaged.
Flashlights, battery-powered radios, power banks, and spare batteries are essential to keeping devices running. Communication and cell phone towers may be down due to the storm. Having a battery-powered radio may be the fastest way to receive information in the next few days after the storm.
In addition to hard copies, save virtual copies of important documents to a USB drive, in addition to your cloud drive, and place them safely in the kit. Be sure to bring personal ID cards, including copies of your driver’s license, passport, social security, state issued ID card, and birth certificates, to name a few. a few.
Copies of insurance information should also be taken with you if you are evacuating, such as health and dental, home, renters, life, auto and flood insurance policies.
Emergency personnel often won’t allow you to return to your neighborhood after the storm if you don’t provide documents, including a housing deed, lease, and mortgage information.
Make copies of your banking information and any legal documents which may include, but not limited to: wills, powers of attorney, marriage and divorce certificates, adoption documents, and custody documents.
In the days following the hurricane, ATMs and banks will likely be closed. Make sure you bring enough cash to buy essential supplies after the storm. Gas pumps will likely be shut down, blocking many residents on the roads. Fill your tank before the storm arrives.
Finally, write a list of family and emergency contact information that can include phone numbers, emails, and addresses. Don’t rely on technology alone to store contact information. Power may be shut off for days or weeks after the event.
Weathering the storm at home or in a shelter will give you a lot of free time. To alleviate boredom, stress, and anxiety, you’ll want to have ways to distract yourself and your family. Bring some toys, board games, crayons, and books to help relieve the pressure of the situation. Do not rely on video games or electronic entertainment, as there is a good chance that the power will be cut off.
Hurricane season officially begins June 1 and lasts until November 30. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) has a newly designed website with many great resources to continue your storm season preparations. You can also find useful information in the Florida Storms app in the “Get Ready” section.
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