It’s Hurricane Preparedness Week- Here’s What You Should Know For Home And Business
Hurricane season is rapidly approaching. Beginning June 1, the time period stretches until late November. The National Preparedness Community has kicked off the National Hurricane Preparedness Week and encourages everyone to spread the word. National Preparedness Week is May 25 through the 31.
As stated by the National Preparedness Community, the week highlights the importance of planning ahead to protect families, homes and communities in advance of the upcoming hurricane season. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and in the eastern Pacific Ocean
At Firestorm, we put an emphasis on the need for disaster preparedness at home. Family comes first. In order to maintain composure in the workplace, you must be prepared at home. “You are your first responder.”
Ways to prepare before a hurricane
- Create a written emergency preparedness and action plan for your family and business. Review it, distribute it, be available to answer questions and concerns.
- Call your insurance agent and/or carefully review your policy. Review insurance coverage for your home and business, and the contents. Determine your flood insurance eligibility – homeowners insurance typically does not cover flood damage.
- Prepare crates or other safe transport for pets. Sixty-one percent of people will not evacuate if they cannot take their pets with them. Have food and familiar items ready for your pet.
- Buy plywood or shutters for protecting windows. Trim trees to lessen flying debris. Store outdoor furniture, umbrellas, and other objects that have the potential to become projectiles and harm others.
- Remember – many injuries occur before a storm from unsafe use of power tools before an emergency – stay calm and ask for help if unfamiliar with drills, saws and other tools.
- Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone by contacting your local emergency management office. Make an evacuation plan if you live in an area vulnerable to storm surge or fresh water flooding, if you live in a mobile home or if you live in a high-rise building.
- Identify the evacuation route you will use if told to evacuate. Determine the nearest substantial, low-rise building outside of flood zones to which you can evacuate such as an official public shelter, a hotel or a friend’s or relative’s home. Find out if where you’re going will accept any pets. Gas up your car. Do not store extra gasoline in an unsafe manner.
- Agree upon two places family members can meet if separated: one outside your home for an emergency while there and one out of the neighborhood if you cannot return home.
- Test emergency equipment such as generators and flashlights. Replace batteries, have extra batteries on hand. If using kerosene lanterns or candles, guard against fire. Store flammable liquids in a safe and secure manner.
- Decide where you will store your boat and RV during a tropical storm or hurricane and factor into your action plan the time to move it to storage.
- Assemble a hurricane survival kit. Obtain emergency supplies now to be self-sufficient during the storm and its potentially lengthy aftermath. If you wait until a hurricane is on your doorstep to buy these items, they will be in very short supply or even completely unavailable. Water for utility usage (not personal washing or consumption) may be stored in bathtubs and hot-tubs.
Steps to follow after a hurricane
In preparation for Hurricane Season, the following resources include an excerpt from Firestorm’s Book, Disaster Ready People for a Disaster Ready America By Harry W. Rhulen, James W. Satterfield and Suzy Loughlin. You may download the entire ebook for free.
AFTER A DISASTER
Look at the recovery in post-disaster stages, so as to not get overwhelmed.
- Immediate recovery
- Short-term recovery
- Long-term recovery
- First and foremost, remain safe. Is the event completely over? For example, the earth no longer quakes, but damaged buildings may continue to fall; the hurricane no longer dumps rains, but the levees then fail.
- In some cases, law enforcement officials and emergency personnel may be in a position to tell you it’s safe to re-enter certain structures. In many cases, however, the aftermath of a disaster is as chaotic as the disaster itself, and they will not be available, at least initially. Don’t panic; use common sense.
- Gather your family—this is your mutual support system; make plans together.
- Handle immediate medical needs—check everyone for wounds or injuries. Use your first aid kit and/or seek additional treatment.
- It’s during this time that outside help will probably begin to arrive. Local emergency services people will probably be first on the scene, followed by state representatives, and, if the disaster is large enough, eventually FEMA and other Federal resources.
- Remain alert, as there will still be a great deal of confusion. The various assistance agencies might not be communicating and coordinating well with each other, which means you may get conflicting instructions and information. If someone, even an official, tells you something that doesn’t make sense, if at all possible, wait before you act on that information. Before long, the situation will begin to clarify itself.
- Avoid obvious hazards—downed electric lines, the smell of gas, standing water, etc. Make sure everyone remains alert and knows how to spot and stay away from danger.
- Listen to your emergency radio—use it to determine your next moves, which may be to remain where you are. Be careful of rumors; they can exacerbate a disaster, leading to unnecessary risk or pandemonium.
- Defer making major decisions—focus on the present; when your life is suddenly in upheaval and your status quo is interrupted, you will not be in the frame-of-mind to make sound decisions. But, don’t worry, for the emphasis now should be on your immediate needs. You will not gain anything by deciding or feeling pressure to decide something under duress.
- Expect emotional reactions—emotions run high after a disaster and swing back and forth. Some people are elated, because it’s over; others are depressed, because things are such a mess. Fear is likely to continue for some time. Do not ignore these feelings and reactions as they come up; address them with love and understanding.
- Take in enough food and water—provided you still have your reserves, stay hydrated and nourished in order to maintain energy and stay as comfortable as possible.
- Stay off the phone—lines will be jammed, if they are working at all. Conserve your cell phone batteries.
- Once you’re sure the disaster is over, you move into the short-term recovery phase. Again, your first job is to stay safe. During this period (which could be anywhere from a few hours to several weeks), keep providing emotional support to each other, as the healing process is gradual.
- Depending on the kind of disaster you’ve gone through, at this point, you’ll need to start making some decisions.
- Do you or can you return home?
- Do you need to find temporary housing? In doing so, do not rush to any conclusions. Calmly and rationally assess your situation. Now may be the time to activate your contact list.
- For a particularly severe event, recovery can take time, and lots of it. In fact, it can take years before a community regains a sense of normalcy. Emotional reactions really set in at this stage. Children, even some adults, may suffer from nightmares or depression. The disaster preparations you made and practiced will help through this tough time. If the concerns persist, seek professional guidance; there is no shame in doing so.
- Again, keep your cool, yet stand up for yourself when that’s required. Be as flexible and resourceful as the situation warrants. Speed-up/Expedite the recovery process with your identity papers and financial records. If for some reason they are not in your evacuation kit, access those that you mailed to a friend and start things moving forward.
Spread the word about hurricane prevention
You can help spread the word about hurricane preparedness by following these steps:
- Visit National Hurricanes Center mobile friendly site.
- Update your Facebook cover photo promoting Hurricane Preparedness Month.
- Use the hashtag #HurricanePrep and attach a relevant photo.
- Download the FEMA smartphone app.
- Follow and retweet Twitter accounts during Hurricane Preparedness Week.
- For more information visit:
There is an amazing amount of public information out there about preparing for a disaster, with the most current being online. There is also much duplication, so go to these resources first, as we have found them to be the most helpful.
- National Hurricane Center Atlantic on Twitter:
- Firestorm on Twitter
- Firestorm Solutions, LLC book – a free .pdf version of this book
- International Association for Disaster Preparedness and Response (DERA)
- CNN Hurricane Preparedness