The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts an above normal hurricane season. Since we live in Georgia, no worries, right? Wrong! Georgia often gets hit with severe storms following hurricanes. Now is the time to be prepared should you be a victim of severe weather. The season runs through until November and in 2017 Hurricane Irma had a major impact on Georgia even as far in as Walton, Gwinnett and surrounding counties.
Some things to think about as you get your home and business ready for the season:
Do you have an emergency survival kit? A basic kit should include some of the following items, according to the Department of Homeland Security:
- Water – one gallon per person for at least three days. (Don’t forget your pets)
- Food – three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Battery powered or hand crank radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First-aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help if you are trapped
- Dust mask to filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape for a makeshift shelter
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Additional items to consider are:
- Any prescription medication you might need along with basic non-prescription medications
- Pet food
- Paper or digital copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Change of clothes and shoes
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and other personal hygiene items
- Paper and writing utensils
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
After assembling your kit remember to keep canned food in a cool, dry place and store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal container. It’s a good idea to check your kit every year and replace all expired items as needed.
Do you know where your home’s water, gas and electric cutoffs are located? You might need to turn these off in a hurry if a water pipe breaks in the storm, you smell gas or if the walls become damaged and expose wires.
If and when severe weather strikes, make sure you remain indoors with doors and windows closed, and pay attention to evacuation notices and other alerts. If you do have to evacuate, remember to avoid walking through flowing water which is more thank ankle deep and never drive through roadways with rushing water.
In the case of high winds, move to an interior room on the lowest floor, like a closet or hallway which is free from glass. Wrapping yourself in blankets will help protect you from flying debris.
In case you become separated from family and loved ones, it’s also important to make sure you have a communication plan in place. FEMA has a three step guideline to help you create your family communication plan:
- COLLECT. Create a paper copy of the contact information for your family and other important people/offices, such as medical facilities, doctors, schools, or service providers.
- SHARE. Make sure everyone carries a copy in his or her backpack, purse, or wallet. If you complete your Family Emergency Communication Plan online at ready.gov/make-a-plan, you can print it onto a wallet-sized card. You should also post a copy in a central location in your home, such as your refrigerator or family bulletin board.
- PRACTICE. Have regular household meetings to review and practice your plan.
Remember in emergency situations, communicating via text message may prove more effective than making a phone call, as they require less bandwidth.