Articles

National Preparedness Month: How to Prepare for A Hurricane

Monday, September 9, 2019

Hurricane season runs from June through the end of November, but it doesn’t really ramp up until August through October. And, while weather officials initially thought hurricane activity would be lower than usual this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has since revised the forecast to be above-normal.

So far this year, parts of the U.S. have braced for the worst with Hurricanes Barry and Dorian. Yet, there’s likely more to come.

And, this National Preparedness Month, our Kinetic by Windstream team wants to ensure that you and your family stay safe with these hurricane preparation tips.

1. Put together an emergency kit beforehand.

There are some supplies that you’ll want to have on hand whether you decide to evacuate or not. This will be the case at home, at work and in your car. It will be best to have things packed and ready to go when you are, so you won’t have to spend any crunch time finding any necessary items. So, what all counts as emergency supplies? Use this hurricane prep list:

  • A portable NOAA weather radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries 
  • Nonperishable food to last at least three days
  • Baby food and bottles, if applicable
  • Pet food, if applicable
  • Water - one gallon per person per day for at least three days (for drinking and cleaning)
  • Manual can opener
  • Prescription medications, as well as any over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers or stomach relievers
  • Cellphone with chargers and a backup battery
  • First-aid kit
  • Personal hygiene items, including feminine supplies, moist towelettes and even garbage bags
  • Glasses and/or contact lens solution, if applicable
  • A change of clothes, including undergarments 
  • Diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream, if applicable
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Important documents, including insurance policies, identification cards or birth certificates and bank account information
  • Cash 
  • Gasoline for your vehicles or generator
  • Physical maps of the area

Remember, too, that you may want to check if any of the items on the emergency list have expired or are in low stock.

2. Protect your home.

No matter what you decide, you’ll want to add some extra lines of defense against the gusty winds and other elements. Here’s what you’ll want to do before any hurricane:

  • Remove any outdoor objects — including bicycles, lawn furniture and other lawn care — that the wind can carry.
  • Board up your doors and windows with storm shutters or plywood.
  • Trim or remove branches that could fall on your house.
  • About six hours before the hurricane, turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings, and open them sparely. Place a thermometer inside, too, so you’ll know whether certain foods will be safe to eat once the power is restored.
  • Turn off propane tanks and anchor them down.
  • Keep tabs of valuables that you own. This will make it easier should you need to file claims with your homeowners insurance.

It’s also worth noting that, if you have flood insurance, your policy may cover preventative measures, such as sandbags and water pumps. Take a look here to see what can be covered and what you may need to document to expense those costs.

3. Make a plan to shelter in place or evacuate.

Many people are tempted to wait and see whether a hurricane will take a surprise turn or continue on its predicted path. Ensure your family knows that if, for example, the hurricane’s strength increases to a Category 3, you’ll be evacuating, but you’ll be sheltering in place for a weaker hurricane.

4. If evacuating, plan to a T.

First, you’ll want to figure out where you’ll be staying. Will you be going to a friend’s or family member’s house that is more inland? Will you book a hotel or motel? Here’s where your household’s needs will come into play. If, for example, you’ve got two large dogs, you may want to find a place that can accommodate them. 

Next, map out different routes to get there. If the hurricane is that serious, there will likely be many others on the road, so you’ll want to plan a few different ways to get to your landing spot. 

Be sure that your travel buddies or family have each other’s phone numbers and have a designated place to meet should you get separated. Tell other family or friends where you’ll be ahead of time, and keep them updated. And, lastly, don’t forget that emergency kit.

5. If sheltering in place, be very aware.

Tune in as much as you can to any updates on the hurricane, and sign up for your community’s emergency alert system. Charge your communications devices about six to 18 hours before the hurricane makes landfall, so you’ll be guaranteed a full battery if worse comes to worst. And, be sure someone knows where you are.

Just like tornado prep, you’ll want to bunker down in a storm shelter or an area of your home with no windows and that is preferably on the lowest floor. If, however, your area is experiencing flooding, go to the highest level, though not in your attic. 

6. Here’s what to do in the aftermath.

It’s tempting to want to go back home as soon as you hear the worst is over, but it still may not be advisable. Stay up to date with community alerts and local news to know when is best to return. 

When you do, remember that some of the same routes that you took to evacuate may now be flooded. Here’s where those local maps and your alternative routes will come in handy. 

And, when you get home, take extra precaution. Animals, such as snakes, have likely been displaced, too, and you may run into dangerous critters. There’s also the possibility of downed power lines or other electrical equipment that may be wet and can electrically charge standing water. If it’s safe, power off the electricity in your home from the breaker box.

If you have a camera, start documenting any structural changes to your home for insurance purposes. This will also be the case for any damage inside your home, but, before you go inside, put on protective clothing, such as dust masks. And, avoid drinking or using tap water until you know it is not contaminated.

If your area has been designated a federally declared disaster, look into getting FEMA assistance at DisasterAssistance.gov.

Use these tips to help you prepare for the next hurricane, and be sure to get the latest updates on weather-related events in your area using your Kinetic Internet.