The best time to prepare for a storm is at the beginning of hurricane season, and well ahead of the storm's projected contact with land. Don't wait till the last minute to begin preparing your hurricane emergency kits. These tips will give you a head start on stocking up for any impending hurricane.
Avoid the long lines at the supermarket and the risk of empty store shelves by collecting supplies before the news stations confirm the arrival of a hurricane.
- Choose foods that are healthy, non-perishable, and don't require refrigeration before and after opening.
- Foods that don't require cooking are easiest to manage.
- Store water in plastic containers such as soft-drink or juice bottles. Don't use paper cartons or glass bottles that could break or decay.
- Have a first-aid kit for your home and each car.
- Arrange with your health care provider and pharmacist for emergency medication supplies. Under a federally declared emergency, you may get an extra 30-day supply with no price increase, even for recently filled prescriptions.
- Have several flashlights + extra batteries handy. Preferably one for each household member.
- Get a manual can opener.
- Have a cooler and ice packs.
- Find a water-proof container to store extra cash and important documents.
- Keep of a full tank of gas in your car. As much as possible, avoid driving in the days leading up to the storm.
- Have a supply of medicine for children.
- Have a supply of aspirin or pain reliever, upset stomach medicine and fever reducers.
- Have sufficient personal hygiene items and sanitation items.
- Purchase eco-friendly, disposable plates and utensils, paper cups, paper napkins, and towels to clean up.
- Read manufacturer instructions for generators and other equipment beforehand.
When the hurricane is sure to hit land:
This is the time to have your to-do list at hand and check off all the essentials. This also the time to make any plans for evacuation and find storm shelters.
- Collect water in a bathtub for washing and flushing toilets.
- Store important documents in Ziploc bags and waterproof storage.
- Set refrigerator to coldest setting.
- Fill freezer with water bottles: a full freezer will keep foods colder, longer. Alternately, fill empty plastic containers up to about 90% with water — loosely cap the containers and place in freezer.
- Have some books, magazines, games for recreation.
- Plan for evacuation and discuss what to do if family members are separated.
- Review emergency contacts with children. Advise them on who to call for help in an emergency.
- Monitor children's media exposure. If your child watches any television or uses the Internet showing storm updates, watch with them to encourage communication and be ready to provide simple, understandable explanations. Reassure them you are doing everything possible to keep them safe.
- Take photos of your home and belongings.
- List all medications for you and your family members.
- Keep your spare prescription glasses handy, even if they are not your latest prescription, in addition to spare contact lenses and cleaning solution.
- If there's a need to evacuate, know where you are going and how you plan to get there before you leave home. Let others know your destination and intended route. Know what alternate routes are available before you leave.
After the hurricane:
Safety is just as paramount in the days following a disaster. People are often injured through misuse of resources and lack of proper care.
- Use grills or gas-operated cookers outdoors only.
- Never use generators indoors. Don't operate generators near open doors, windows or garage doors.
- Unless there is an emergency, refrain from driving or walking about following the storm.
- When water levels rise, animals may be away from their natural habitats. Keep an eye out for snakes, gators and other wild animals.
- Beware of downed or damaged power lines. Never step into puddles where there are broken power lines.
- Enter your house with caution. Don't strike matches until you're sure there are no gas leaks.
- Beware of candles: they cause more fires after a disaster than anything else. Use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns instead.
- If there's a power outage, turn off or unplug all major appliances and electric devices to avoid damage from a sudden surge when power is restored.
- Keep purchased bottled water in its original, sealed container. Take note of the “use by” date.
- When food in the freezer defrosts, use it within one or two days. If you're not sure food is safe, throw it out! Don't refreeze food that has thawed completely.
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