2009’s hurricane season will mark my first year living in a hurricane zone. Many people have had plenty of experience going through these treacherous storms and know just what they should do to prepare so for those of us hurricane newbie’s who are not as familiar with hurricanes but find themselves facing the possibility this year I have put together a simple list of preparedness tips.
1. Buy supplies before the chaos ensues. At the start of hurricane season start to buy supplies, water, canned food, flashlights, battery operated radios, wood to board up your windows, generators, blankets, etc. You can’t assume these supplies will be readily available once a storm has hit. Most of these things are easily storable which means if you don’t need them this year they may come in handy for the next year. You do not want to find yourself frantically searching for supplies while the storm is starting. Be prepared!
2. Know your area. In my situation I have only lived in Belize for 8 months and have never been through the hurricane season which means that I don’t know the standard evacuation procedures or alert systems that are already set up in my new town. Learn these now. Find out if there is a warning system and what it is so if you hear something in the middle of the night you are educated as to what they are trying to tell you. You do not want to be the only person in town sitting around wondering why that loud siren went off a couple of hours ago. Figure out where you will go in case you need to evacuate and know the plan well.
3. Make sure if a storm does develop that you are staying informed. Keep tabs on the progress, intensity and path of the developing hurricane. Make sure you know which radio station to tune in to for direction from the local government. Things can change quickly with these storms and you want to make sure you know what the latest update is.
4. Put together anything that you absolutely do not want to lose in the case of major damage to your home. There is a possibility that you may have to completely restructure your life so be prepared for this by gathering together all important documents such as your passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance policy information and put them in a single place that you can take easily with you. You may also want to scan family photos and put them on a CD to carry with you so you can later recreate your photo albums.
5. Know your home and where to turn off gas and power if needed. Make sure everyone in your home knows how to do this.
6. Make sure your friends and family know what you will plan to do In the case of evacuation. Keep in touch with them as best as you can so that everyone is informed of location and safety.
The following is a list includes items you will want to have ready for hurricane season (list comes from NHC Disaster Supply Kit)
Water – at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
Food – at least enough for 3 to 7 days
– non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
– foods for infants or the elderly
– snack foods
– non-electric can opener
– cooking tools / fuel
– paper plates / plastic utensils
Blankets / Pillows, etc.
Clothing – seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
Special Items – for babies and the elderly
Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes
Flashlight / Batteries
Radio – Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
Telephones – Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards – Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
Toys, Books and Games
Important documents – in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
– insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
Tools – keep a set with you during the storm
Vehicle fuel tanks filled
Pet care items
– proper identification / immunization records / medications
– ample supply of food and water
– a carrier or cage
– muzzle and leash