P!N’s 2nd Annual Hurricane Prep. Week event in North Carolina reminded P!N and our friends at Orange County Emergency Services that in addition to the basics, there are several storm prep. items easily forgotten by many as we all race through daily life.. Use this list to jog your memory and get ready now, before it’s too late.
10. Build your kit!
Everyone knows you need an emergency kit, but how many of us actually make one, and make it early? (Checking your pantry for extra stores of canned food and Ramen noodles doesn’t count). Building a kit means:
1) Purchasing food and other survival supplies to last you and your family at least 72 hours
2) Writing or typing communications and evacuation plans and sharing them (emailing, faxing, mailing) with close friends or relatives who live outside a hurricane zone to be doubly sure you can access your plan when you need it most.
9. Waiting to prepare spikes your stress levels and your bank account.
A severe storm can strike at any time, even early in the season. Some kit supply items are already in your home, but it’s likely you’ll need to buy others. For many of these items, waiting could mean paying more because demand for these items increases later in the storm season. Higher demand equals higher prices.
8. Child-proof your kit.
Organizations like Children’s Disaster Services know in addition to meeting basic survival needs, it’s important to prepare your children emotionally for the season. Small, simple acts like including toys or favorite family games in your storm kit and talking with your children about hurricanes before one hits could help ward off Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other common ailments exhibited by children who have been through severe storms. The LA Times recently published these tips for talking to kids about hurricanes.
If you have a young child, take special care. A first responder in North Carolina once told us that his first call after a severe storm there a few years ago was to bring baby formula to a mother trapped in her home. If you’re in a storm zone, stock up now on any baby supplies that keep your child well fed and clean after a storm. Remember, babies are more susceptible to disease, so this may mean extra stocks of hand sanitizer and like goods.
7. Pets need a plan too.
In one post Katrina survey of New Orleaneans, 80% of pet owners surveyed had refused to evacuate if leaving meant abandoning their beloved pet. The lack of plans for pets added another layer to the devastation there. Don’t risk your pet’s or your life. Decide now what you will do with Fido if a storm is approaching your home. FEMA has an entire section of Ready.gov devoted to this. Make your pet plan here.
6. Know more than 911.
Knowing only 911 is not enough to access your area’s emergency offerings. Each state has one or several agencies devoted to different aspects of preparedness. Use this map to learn what your state’s emergency prep. divisions are. Contact those groups to learn things like: the location of disaster shelters, emergency help numbers in addition to 911, and whether your city and town provides free transportation during evacuations for residents who don’t have cars and where the pick-up locations are- to name a few. While you must prepare to survive on your own for at least 72 hours, emergency agencies are there if you need them. Take the time to learn who they are and what they provide.
5. Stash cash in your kit.
This is the age of card swiping, and many of us rarely carry cash anymore. But remember, power-outages after storms mean that those local shops that can open to sell food, dry ice, etc., may only be able to take cash.
4. Check your home for Hazardous Chemicals
Oil-based paints, pesticides, pool chemicals, and other hazardous chemicals risk causing fires and other calamities during or after storms. Reduce this risk by disposing of these items properly before a storm hits. Contact your local waste department to find out how.
3. Battery Powered Chargers and Radios Can be Life Savers
Today, there are many low cost emergency, battery and solar power cell-phone chargers that can be used when the power goes out and you need to make a call. There are also battery powered and hand crank powered radios. Don’t risk being without your phone or radio when you need it most. The following links share examples of these items:
-Hand Crank Radio
-Battery powered Cell Phone Charger
Finally, keeping an old, landline phone is another precaution if you can afford it.
2. Find a Safe Spot for your Kit.
Don’t just make sure you have all of the items on your storm kit list – make sure you have them in one safe place. Your hammer won’t serve you in the shed if you can’t get outside, and your can opener won’t work if you can’t find it. Reduce the stress of storm survival by creating one or two bins with items like candles, can openers and other kit essentials. Store these bins in the most structurally sound parts of your home so they’re less likely to be made inaccessible by storm damage.
1. Make Electronic Copies of Docs.
Having all of your important insurance, identity, and other documents in a safe or lockbox is good, but if a fallen tree or flooding prevents you from reaching it, what will you do? Retrieving these documents can be difficult. Create an extra line of defense by scanning your most important documents and emailing them to yourself and storing them on a USB drive. Seek expert IT advice for deciding on the most secure means, but do make electronic copies of your docs.
Want to see storm kit essentials? Go here: