Growing up on the coast in South Texas, I’ve always had a complicated relationship with hurricane season. On the one hand, the possibility of getting out of school for a few days was thrilling! On the other hand, as a lifelong worry wart, I specifically remember being 8 years old and preparing to evacuate wondering if our house would be there when we got back, where we would stay if it wasn’t, and how I would get to school if the bridge to the island we live on was damaged. Now, as an adult, those worries only grow stronger. Will our insurance cover the damage to our property? How long will that take? Will we be able to get back to our houses? When? Will there be looters and crime?
The good thing about hurricanes is we have days, sometimes over a week, to prepare. Even with all that notice, it astonishes me how many people are truly caught off guard when the time comes to evacuate.
Pay Attention to the Weather
Hurricane season is the same time each year, folks. No need to be surprised. Even if you are an avid news avoider, set your Weather Alerts to let you know about tropical updates from June through November. I’ve personally found that Intellicast is more accurate (less theatrical) than the Weather Channel when it comes to hurricanes. Being mindful of tropical weather insures that you can take advantage of ALL THE NOTICE we have to make sure your family is prepared.
Make a plan and have a hard copy somewhere that everyone in your family knows about
Making the plan is relatively simple. Start out with a checklist like this one from the National Weather Service: NOAA HURRICANE PREPARDENESS PLAN I adapted this into a few different documents. First, I made a checklist of items we would need to pack or buy when getting ready for a hurricane. The checklist encompasses two scenarios: Sheltering in place and evacuating. The checklist is then broken down by item type: Car Kits, Food/Water, Supplies, Clothes, Babies, Documents.
The next document in my plan contains the actual steps to getting ourselves ready: preparing the cars, preparing the property, preparing the shelter, and packing. It’s important to note that it’s recommended to have provisions for at least 3 days whether you decide to shelter in place or evacuate. The electricity/water could go out at any time and emergency response teams limit their responses to medical emergencies during these times. This means that your electricity being out and you being extremely uncomfortable, but not in physical danger will go to the bottom of their list of priorities.
The last part of the plan is the actual evacuation/shelter details. If our family decides to evacuate, where will we go? Most of that depends on the severity of the storm and where it’s expected to hit. We want to be far enough away that we (hopefully) don’t lose power but close enough that we can get back quickly to assess damage and help in any relief efforts. Either way, if a storm is projected to hit us 3 days from landfall, I will make hotel reservations in two cities on our evacuation route. Having small children will TOTALLY change your plans. I’ve never been one to jump on the evacuate bandwagon , but when you have an infant and a toddler, the thought of them without electricity and running water for days on end is pretty devastating. Any other thoughts, like our lives actually being in jeopardy, unspeakable. Because of those reasons, our plan is to evacuate when any major storm is still predicted to hit us within 24 hours of landfall. If we decided to shelter in place, we would move all of our packed and checklist items to a central location. It’s also important that even though you are at home, you stay on high alert. If landfall is predicted within 12 hours of bedtime, every family member should sleep in a central location. Also, we don’t have any pets, but please make sure that your pets are part of your evacuation plan. While we build our house we are living with my parents and youngest sister who have an abundance of pets so they are part of our plan also.
My plan is in my file cabinet in my office. It’s a simple plan, only a few pages long. It includes a checklist of things to buy or make sure we have, things to gather and pack, and our actual evacuation plan.
What’s in the plan?
I’ve attached our family plan to help give you a jump start on making yours. There’s no right or wrong hurricane plane- as long as you have one!
What’s your plan? Make sure to have a family meeting at the beginning of each hurricane season to make sure everyone in your house in on the same page!
|CAR KITS- 1 PER CAR- TO BE KEPT IN CAR DURING ACTIVE ALERT|
|*Cell phone chargers||*Energy bars and nuts||*AM/FM radio|
|*Case of water||*Animal Crackers/Goldfish||*Diaper bag|
|*Flashlight||*Diapers and wipes|
|FOOD AND WATER- 3 DAY SUPPLY- 1 GAL WATER/PERSON/DAY|
|*Nut butters||*Dried meat|
|*Battery packs||*Rain gear||*Toilet paper|
|*Flashlights||*Keys to car and houses||*Eating utensils/ paper plates|
|*Batteries||*Insect repellent and sunscreen||*Wash cloths|
|*First aid kid||*Medications||*Paper towels|
|*Maps||*Emergency blankets||*Life jackets|
|*3 pairs shorts/jeans||*1 sleep outfit||*Close toed shoes|
|*3 tops||*Socks||*Personal hygiene products|
|*Diaper Cream||*Lotion||*Sippy cups/bottles/eating utensils|
|*WATER- increase water supply for pets||*Crates or shelter for travel||*Food and water bowls|
|DOCUMENTS- Copies of Vital Documents|
|*Birth Certificates||*Insurance Policies||*Medication List|
|*Marriage Certificates||*Property Deeds/Leases|
|*IDs/Passports||*Proof of Address|
|*Fill gas tanks in all vehicles|
|*Load Car Kits into each vehicle|
|*Secure boats/motor homes and other outside vehicles|
|*Bring anything inside that could be picked up by the wind|
|*Close hurricane shutters/board up windows with plywood|
|*Reinforce garage doors|
|*Ensure all trees/shrubs are|
|*Turn all rerigerators and feezers to the coldest setting|
|*Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances|
|*Consider buying a generator|
|*Decide on the best place in your home to shelter inside|
|*Move all packed and checklist items to shelter room|
|*Move all Packed and Checklist items to vehicles|
|*Lock your house up and activate alarm|
|*Ensure that all drivers know agreed pit stops and final destination|
|*Ensure that all drivers have GPS, maps, and cells phones with charges|
|*Watch for traffic congestion- plan to take back roads if possible|
|*Stay tuned in to NOAA listening for changes in storm projections|
|*Once to your destination, only remove from vehicles what you will need|
|*Do not rush home after the storm if your area was hit- wait for officials to make reentry announcements|
|*After arriving, take pictures of damage to property/buildings|
|*Move all Packed and Checlist items to Shelter Room||*Lock all doors and activate alarm system||*If damage to windows occurs, try to board from inside. If possible, do not go outside|
|*Make sure Radio is on to alert you to any changes in pattern||*If power outage- leave goods in rerigerator and freezer up to 24 hours||*If water begins entering your home or glass continues to break, call 911|
|*All family members should sleep in central location if landfall is within 12 hours||*After 24 hours with no power- move as much as possible to iced coolers||*After the storm has passed, take camera and do a walkaround of property|
|*Once rain/wind arrives all family members should stay inside||*If power outage- leave goods in rerigerator and freezer up to 24 hours||*Photograph any damage to your property or buildings|