Preparing for a Disaster
The most important thing that you can do is to be informed and prepared. Disaster prevention includes both being prepared as well as reducing damages (mitigation). You should use common sense in your disaster prevention.
Disaster Prevention should include developing a family and pet plan based on your vulnerability to the Hurricane Hazards. You should keep a written plan and share your plan with other friends or family. Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet. Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate. Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911. Check your insurance coverage. Flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance.
Additionally, every family should have a disaster preparedness kit. Your disaster preparedness kit should include water, food, blankets, pillows, clothing, flashlights, batteries, a radio, cash, important documents, pet care items, and any other special items that you might need. Make sure that your emergency supplies are non-perishable and that you have a first-aid kit. You might also want to take First Aid, CPR, and disaster preparedness classes.
Disaster prevention includes modifying your home to strengthen it against storms so that you can be as safe as possible. There are things that you can do to make your home more secure and able to withstand stronger storms. The most important precaution you can take to reduce damage to your home and property is to protect the areas where wind can enter. According to recent wind technology research, it is important to strengthen the exterior of your house so wind and debris do not tear large openings in it. You can do this by protecting and reinforcing your roof, straps, shutters, doors, and garage doors. Remember: building codes reflect the lessons experts have learned from past catastrophes. Contact the local building code official to find out what requirements are necessary for your home improvement projects.
One of the most important decisions you will have to make is whether or not to evacuate. If you are asked to evacuate, you should do so without delay. But unless you live in a coastal or low-lying area, an area that floods frequently, or in manufactured housing, it is unlikely that emergency managers will ask you to evacuate.
More details on hurricane preparedness are avaialable from:
- American Red Cross
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)