Developing a disaster plan may be a matter of survival, particularly for waterfront communities. Before the storm comes, here's some tips so you know what to do:
Step One: Build a Kit
It's best to prepare to be away from home for a few days. Your house might survive the storm, but chances are you will be without water and electricity for at least a day or two. Even after the storm settles, you may need to stock up for a few weeks while local authorities work at restoring lost power and water. The American Red Cross suggests keeping a kit in your home that will last for two weeks.
Your kit should include the basics:
- Water (one gallon per person per day)
- Non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
- Emergency blankets
- A week's supply of medication
- Battery-powered radio (try to get your hands on an NOAA weather radio
- First-aid kit
- Sanitation and personal-hygiene items
- Copies of important documents like medication lists, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, and proof of home ownership
Depending on the needs of your family, there may be other items to include. Think about things like baby supplies--diapers, formula, and bottles--or any special items needed by the elderly members of your family. Items like two-way radios, extra health-care items (glasses, etc.), and duct tape are good to have on hand, too.
Store your emergency kit somewhere in your home that is cool and dry to make sure it stays in top shape should you need to take it with you. Check your supplies periodically to make sure any expired goods are replaced. The last thing you want is to be without something like medication in the middle of an evacuation.
Make sure you have cash on hand for emergency purchases. Include maps of the area in your kit. No matter how well you know your community, severe weather can change terrain, destroy road signs, and rattle your memory a little as well. Having a visual map will help you regain your bearings and make smarter decisions as you determine the best route out.