As the entire nation keeps a cautious eye on Hurricane Florence, the first major hurricane of the 2018 primary hurricane season, homeowners in the proximity of the hurricane’s path need to be careful and prepared. When a powerful storm such as Florence is bearing down on the eastern seaboard, you want to be as ready as possible.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, estimated 13 storms this 2018 season, including 7 hurricanes, two of which will be major. Hurricane Season is listed on their site as running from June 1 through November 30.
Though there is never enough warning for a natural disaster, there are ways that you can be better-prepared if one strikes.
First, you should plan your evacuation route. Make sure your car’s gas tank is full for the duration of the season so you are prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. While it is always advisable to listen to your local government’s instructions, it is beneficial to have an idea of what to do beforehand. A trial run of an evacuation could help. Make sure to bring any important documents with you or secure them in a bank safety deposit box. Plan ahead for your pets as well. Make sure they all have identification tags in case they get lost. Also make sure to outline a family communications plan in case members of your family are separated. Plan for how you will get back together and what you will do in certain situations as cell phones may die and communication can be strained.
Secondly, you will need to collect emergency supplies. Stock up on bottled water, non-perishable food items, and materials and tools. Keep in mind the lack of electricity that these storms can cause and be sure to have batteries, flashlights, candles, and matches on hand. It’s also important to have a first-aid kit in case of injuries as it might not be possible to receive immediate medical attention. A fire extinguisher is also important in case there are any fires caused by electrical issues caused by the storm.
Be sure to also protect your home! Cut any trees or weak branches that could fall onto your house in high winds. Check to see if any sliding glass doors are made with tempered glass. It’s wise to replace any gravel or rocks with mulch as it is softer and would cause much less damage in high winds. Install storm shutters to protect your windows. Make sure to seal any outdoor openings where any pipes or cables enter the wall to prevent leaks. Outdoor furniture and other objects can also pose a hazard, so bringing them inside your garage or another storage area can help to prevent potential damages. It’s important to be aware of your homeowner’s insurance policy before hurricane season. Make sure you have coverage. If not, you may want to look into flooding insurance and separate policies for wind damage.
Be aware of local emergency shelters. If you are unable to evacuate, stay inside! Be wary of the eye of the storm. When winds drop and the storm seems to have passed, the winds will soon switch direction and return to a hurricane force. Expect a second hit and any storms that could come thereafter such as tornadoes and other subsequent storms.
Be sure to have an external battery charger for your phone and download the Red Cross emergency application on your phone. Also be aware of any local radio stations with news and weather reports so you can be informed of the storm’s progress and any safety hazards.
After the storm passes, be sure to let friends and loved ones know that you are safe. Mark yourself safe on Facebook and reach out to people you care about. Make sure to document any property damage by taking photographs, and contact your insurance company for assistance.
If you’ve evacuated, return only once authorities tell you that it is safe to do so. Avoid contact with flood water as it often contains debris and may be contaminated with sewage or dangerous insects and animals.
Be wary of downed poles and power lines, and do not drink tap water until authorities say that it is safe to do so.
While natural disasters are unpredictable and difficult to avoid, being aware and prepared can significantly reduce damage and consequences.