Guest post by Lee Flynn.
September is National preparedness month and we are in the eye of hurricane season. Let’s talk about some common and not so common ways you can prepare your home and family in case a big storm starts to take aim at you.
National Preparedness Month
Every year the country celebrates national preparedness month in September so it’s a good excuse to prepare for the worst. This was started in 2004 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA as a way to encourage people to take the steps necessary to prepare home, work, school, and community against natural disasters or terrorist attacks. Only about 50% of us have the supplies we need or a plan in place in case of an emergency. Each type of disaster may require a unique plan but some of the basics will remain the same. Recent devastating heat waves, wildfires, and droughts reminded us about the challenges of summertime disasters.
The 2012 Hurricane Season
It is August and we haven’t seen much action in the Atlantic by way of powerful hurricanes. The strongest storm to date this year has been Ernesto which formed late July off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula and ran around the Caribbean dumping rain and gaining a little traction before it fizzled out. Despite the slow start to the 2012 season things could turn around at any moment. And as those living in the path of these storms know you don’t need to have to have a large hurricane land on our doorstep to cause destruction. Strong wind and heavy rain from tropical depressions can down power lines and make life very difficult. The key is to being ready because chances are you may only have a few days if a big storm turns your direction.
Common Hurricane Preparation Strategies
Before we get into some preparation plans you might not have thought of lets cover the hurricane basics. Staying in communication with family members is the number one thing you must do in any emergency. There is a good chance your family may not be together when a disaster hits so you must plan how to contact each other and get back together. A simple emergency contact card placed in every member’s wallet, purse, or backpack with phone numbers and meeting locations is a good place to start.
Do You Have a Safe Room?
A safe room is a fortified room in your home or business that can act as a safe hiding place or shelter in the event of an emergency such as a home invasion, tornado, or in our case today a hurricane. You don’t need to go to extravagant means to build a safe room in your home but you may need to make some minor changes to make what you have work, even in a modest home. Consider what rooms you have in your home that you can use. Pick a room that has no windows and is in the interior of the house. A bathroom makes good sense for easy access to running water, personal supplies, and the toilet. A nice walk-in closet also makes a safe room that works just make sure you have access to water before locking everyone in. Outfitting the room with communication equipment will be very important in an emergency. Cell phones, additional land lines, and ham radio, will be your lifeline to the outside world in case things go bad. Hand powered generators for the radios will be important if power is lost and everyone’s cell phone batteries run out. If you can replace the door with a solid core door, something that can remain sturdy under stress, it will be much better than what you probably have, a plywood door. I was once in a Pacific Typhoon when a coconut was turned into a missile and broke though my bedroom window flew across my room, and went through the closet door. Trust me; reinforcing a door can save lives. Don’t forget to add a 72 hour kit to sustain your family. Food, water, light, and communication are core pieces to keep you safe if you have to hang out in a safe room for a few hours or longer.
Stay prepared and don’t become complacent just because your area has been disaster free for longer than normal. Earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and more occur sometimes without time to fully prepare for the consequences.