You may have already smelled it in the air: Storm season is on its way. Forecasters predict a busy hurricane season, and now it’s more important than ever to know what to do when a natural disaster or other kind occurs. You don’t want to be caught unprepared in a storm, and you certainly don’t want to be left without an idea of what to do after the event. To get you started, here are 5 ways you can prepare for hurricane and storm season. They can save you time, stress, and maybe even your life.
1. Store important documents in a safe place
Paper does not perform well in the event of a hurricane, and family photos cannot be exchanged for a deposit. One of the first things you should do when you hear incoming storms is to make sure that your essential documents and photos are somewhere weatherproof and easy to find. It is difficult to provide complete protection from fire, but in the event of a hurricane, you have to worry about water and wind. Find a secure document that is waterproof and shock-resistant, and then throw all your important papers in there.
Photos, birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, and even documents that you might theoretically replace but wouldn’t want to. You may be able to get a new Social Security card, but when your entire neighborhood also lost its card, the Social Security Office would have a long queue, if it still existed.
2. Securing your belongings inside and out
When the wind blows, things outside become everyone’s problem, especially yours. Patio furniture, barbecues, and anything free-standing should be restricted to your porch or patio or moved indoors. You don’t want to see your trampoline rolling in the street, as well as anyone trying to get out of town. Speaking of which, you should also find a higher ground to park your car. Look for a place that is close but high so that you can evacuate in a hurry and not find your car already washed.
You’re not finished when outdoor furniture and decor is indoors. Windows should be closed, doors closed, and anything hanging outside or inside removed. Once you’ve done all that, your next task is to find the safest room in the house to get around the storm if you can’t evacuate. Most experts recommend a bathroom on the first floor without windows.
3. Stay informed as much as possible
If your Wi-Fi crashes in a light breeze, it won’t withstand a hurricane. The radio may be the most important piece of a storm apparatus. It can keep you in touch with evacuation orders and keep you updated on how the storm is moving, power outages, and more. You don’t want to look up and think the sky is clear when you really have eyes on it.
The American Red Cross FRX3+ Multi Energy Weather Alert Radio is an excellent choice if you are preparing for storm season. This rechargeable crank radio has a solar panel and a manual turbine so you don’t have to rely on the grid to stay in the know. This radio comes with a built-in alert function that automatically broadcasts weather alerts for your area, so you don’t have to browse the channels for news either.
What distinguishes this radio is that it also works as a generator to recharge smartphones, an LED flashlight and a warning beacon. Charge this radio, then put it in a bag to wait when you need it. As one Amazon reviewer found, the battery certainly lasts long enough to set and forget: “I put it back in its box and in the dark emergency kit on March 15 and checked on April 11; all jobs worked.”
4. Know where to go
Sometimes the safest place to go is far away. There is only so much you can do at home to protect from a storm, and most of that will be nullified if your roof ruptures. Make a plan of where you and your loved ones will go during and after the storm if you can’t stay indoors. The worst thing in the world is not knowing if the people you love are safer. Find out exactly where they are so you can know for sure.
For evacuation orders, stay tuned to your NOAA radio. You’ll get directions on where people in your area need to evacuate. From there, you can learn how to connect with your friends and family and stay together.
5. Put a small bag
This may be the most important thing you can do in preparation for storm season. When the evacuation order comes, you go. You may not have time to run around your house to pack your belongings. That’s why you pack your bag in advance with everything you need to survive a few days. When you’re packing, there are a few basic things you need to include: non-perishable food, water, medication, utility supplies, and a few basic electronics.
Pack enough food and water for a few days. Most rescue efforts are organized quickly, but in some cases, it may take days before supplies arrive. This is what happened with Katrina and she doesn’t want to be left waiting. The food you pack should mostly be dry goods that do not need refrigeration. Canned fruits and vegetables, trail mixes, and protein bars are all a good way to go. If you are taking it for a long walk, it will probably be in the bag. For water, most experts recommend 1 gallon per person per day for three days.
When you pack your medications, look for generic first aid and prescriptions. Basic first aid supplies include bandages, sterilizing wipes, sprays, pain relievers, and gauze. It is also helpful to have a basic first aid kit at home at all times. For prescriptions, get everything. You never know when the pharmacy will open again and contacting your doctor for a refill can be difficult if they are also evacuated.
And don’t forget your pets! They will need a lot of the above so be sure to account for their food, water, medication, etc.
The last thing you should pack is those essential electronics that you can’t live without. Your phone, laptop, and a good radio are worth the space they take up if you can stay informed or call your loved ones and let them know you’re safe.