Summer hurricane season is here, and as long as a storm isn’t right on your doorstep, there’s still time to prepare. These five installments about hurricane preparedness will remind you of ways to stay safe and secure before, during, and after one of these destructive storms.
Part Three: Under a Hurricane Watch
When a hurricane is out there swirling around and looking as if it might head in your direction, it’s time to get serious about your personal safety and that of your family, your pets, and your neighbors.
Hurricanes are often unpredictable; they can stall, turn, and take unexpected tracks. This is why there are always multiple possible models for their progress shown on TV. Listen to the NOAA weather radio band to track the storm and get any instructions that are issued from the authorities for your area.
Top off your gas tank and pack emergency kits and other supplies into your car. Keep it parked facing outward for easy merging into traffic, especially if you live on a busy street. If you have a boat, secure it the best you can or bring it ashore into a covered facility if possible.
Be sure your cell phone is charged and that your car phone charger is in your vehicle. It's also a good idea to have alternative ways to charge your phone, like the Goal Zero Nomad 7m Solar Panel. Program important numbers into your phone, but don’t forget to take a separate list on a card or paper in case your phone is lost or service fails.
Put away flower pots, lawn furniture, and anything else that might sail around in a strong wind—which is pretty much anything that isn’t bolted down! Board up your windows, leaving just one or two open for now for ventilation if you must.
Gather your family around. Keep them close by in case you need to evacuate. Review your evacuation plans and revise if necessary. Check with those friends or relatives you’re depending upon for shelter to let them know you might be coming.
Double-check on arrangements for your pets, and keep them on leashes or fenced into your yard—you don’t want to be hunting for them if you have to exacuate! If you absolutely must leave pets at home (not advised), tape a notice on the outside of a front door or the inside of a window letting emergency personnel know they are there: “2 DOGS INSIDE.” If your front door has a window, tape the notice on the inside so it doesn't blow away. Leave your bathroom door firmly propped open and the toilet lid up so they can drink if their water bowls go dry. Make sure they have plenty of food available, and for dogs, their favorite kind of chew toys for a little comfort. Realize that you will probably come home to quite a mess—and some very anxious pets.
Post a paper on your fridge, the inside of your front door, or another prominent place giving the address and phone number where you can be reached. Give your relatives and friends the same information.
Check with your neighbors to see if anyone needs help boarding up windows, getting last-minute supplies, putting away lawn furniture, etc. Be especially watchful for older folks or the disabled.
There are a lot of things to think about when preparing yourself, your home, and your family for a hurricane. This article is a good starting point but certainly not comprehensive. Make a list specific to your home and family so you can have an organized way to prepare when a hurricane watch is announced for your area. Making these preparations can help you feel more secure in uncertain situations.
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