The Eight Steps of Hurricane/Major Storm Preparation
It wasn't raining when Noah started building the Ark!
Step 1 - Respect Nature
Weather events, such as hurricanes, are powerful and dangerous. In fact, hurricanes and typhoons kill thousands of people worldwide every year and cause billions of dollars in property damage. Don't underestimate the weather's power. Having a healthy respect for hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms and severe weather in general is the first step to being prepared.
Step 2 - Decide Whether to Go or Stay
You must first decide if you will evacuate your home or stay and ride out the storm. Such a decision should be a family decision and must include considering such factors as:
Step 3 - Make a Personal Plan
Whether you decide to evacuate or stay in your home to ride out a storm, you must get your family together to develop a family disaster plan. There simply won't be time to think of everything when a storm gets close. You will be surprised at the number of issues that need to be discussed once you sit down and start listing them.
If your are going to evacuate:
If you are going to stay:
Step 4 - Prepare your Property in Advance
The time to begin acquiring shutters and protection for your home is now. All openings of your home need to have protection to keep fierce winds and rain out of the building. Experience proves that a home that does not have protected openings is at great risk for serious damage.
Trees need to be trimmed to minimize the damage they may cause to your home or someone else's. Vehicles left out in the open are often overturned by high winds. If you do not have a garage or carport, locate a protected spot to park your vehicles. A good location might be on the leeward side of the house, away from the main force of the wind.
Identify loose items located outside, such as lawn furniture, grills, toys, yard equipment, ect., that should be brought inside before a storm. When picked up by high winds, these items can become deadly missiles.
Examine your home to see if hurricane straps and connectors were installed to roof trusses, rafters and framing members. Homes that do not have such protective reinforcement are at risk of loosing roofs and walls to strong hurricane force winds.
Step 5 - Store up to 14 Days of Supplies and Equipment
The experiences of Hurricanes Hugo, Bertha, Fran and Floyd have taught us that we need to be prepared to live without our utilities and basic services for up to two weeks or more. Most of us are ill-prepared to do so. It is not immediately obvious what we would need for such an adventure. A useful exercise may be to try to live for one day without you utilities and begin making a list of essential items that become evident. Parents should try an occasional "one-day camp in" with their children. This will make it less traumatic for children (and their parents) when they are forced to live without all the things we take for granted. The following list should provide a start on this Step:
It is also important to fuel all vehicles before the storm hits. In addition, remember to go to the ATM or bank and secure cash since banks will probably be closed for some time after a severe storm. Finally, keep a photo I.D. that shows your home address. This may become important when asking a police officer or National Guardsman for permission to re-enter your neighborhood.
Step 6 - Rehearse Your Plan
The best plan in the world won't do you or your family much good if no one can remember it. When a major storm approaches, things need to happen fast. There are usually too many tasks to be done by one person. Many people will be tied up at their workplace for some time prior to the storm's arrival. (Emergency Management personnel and emergency responders will be tied up during and for several days following any major weather event.) The only real way to ensure that everything gets done is to assign everyone in your family a list of preparation activities, or allot a substantial amount of lead time if you don't have anyone to help you.
Try actually putting up shutters one weekend to determine how long the process really takes. For those who will be evacuating, actually practice the drive to the shelter, including stops along the way to pick up other family members and friends. Driving time may be extended by hours when the real thing comes along, so be sure to plan accordingly. During Hurricane Andrew, many people discovered that what had been a 15-minute drive to the shelter actually took four hours because of massive traffic jams.
Step 7 - Watch Weather Reports Closely
Storms and weather fronts, especially tornadoes and hurricanes, can move very quickly. Hurricanes typically move at a forward speed of 8 to 25 miles per hour. While this may seem quite slow, such movement can advance an approaching storm up to 200 miles during the course of a normal work day. As a hurricane or other storm moves closer to your area, begin monitoring the weather reports every hour. Don't get caught by surprise by not taking advantage of the excellent media coverage of weather related events.
Step 8 - Take Action
A growing concern of hurricane forecasters and emergency management officials is the problem of many people refusing to take action until a definite hurricane or severe storm warning is issued. Don't cut it close. Numerous hurricanes have brushed by our coast or hovered off-shore for days. Such storms have been within one day of landfall if their directions had changed. This does not allow adequate time for preparation or evacuation. Good judgment and early action are everyone's responsibilities!
When the time comes for action, do so without hesitation. There is never enough time to get ready for nature's fiercest weather. Give yourself and your family a head start. It's worth it!
Some final thoughts for those who work outside the home ...
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