Lucky Eight Media works with several vendors and partners in Florida, in the direct path of Hurricane Dorian. We are wishing and hoping that they stay safe ahead of the storm.
Here are 10 important ways to prepare for a hurricane compiled from the American Red Cross about what to do and how to prepare for the approaching storms.
- Establish an emergency plan with your family. The Department of Homeland Security recommends that all families and their family members come up with an emergency plan well before a disaster occurs. Families should prepare emergency kits and determine what they will do in case of an evacuation. Agree on a meeting point for your family and pick someone out of state who your family members can contact if you get separated. It’s important to carry around a list of emergency numbers in your wallet as cell phone service may be unavailable during a disaster.
- Prepare an emergency kit ahead of time. The American Red Cross recommends that all emergency kits include enough water for at least three days, with a minimum of one gallon per person per day. Additional suggested items include non-perishable food, a flashlight, a weather radio, a first-aid kit, medications, copies of important document, cash, an emergency blanket, and a map of the surrounding area.
- You may need to treat your own water if you’re stranded and services aren’t restored immediately. In the event of a severe storm, you may lose access to clean drinking water. If so, it’s best to boil water to make it safe to consume. If that’s not possible, you can use bleach to kill microorganisms. Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir the contents, and let them stand for 30 minutes. There are also filtration devices such as LifeStraw that can remove bacteria and parasites from water.
- Don’t evacuate unless officials recommend or require it. Storm surge warnings and threats of flooding are the most common reason for mandatory evacuation orders. To find out whether your area is being ordered to evacuate, sign up for your community’s warning system, and pay attention to the Emergency Alert System, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio. Evacuating without guidance from officials can be dangerous and may cause mass panic, hysteria, and road accidents.
- Find out where your local evacuation shelter is. Emergency shelters will likely be setup before the storm and you can contact local officials or FEMA to figure out where these shelters are. They are generally held in a community center or local school. The American Red Cross keeps a list of available emergency shelters, and you can search for open shelters by texting SHELTER and your zip code to 43362. This is a free service offered by the American Red Cross, however standard carrier charges may apply.
- Prepare your home for heavy rainfall and winds. Start preparing for heavy winds and rainfall by securing your rain gutters, clearing your drains, closing shutters, and securing plywood over windows. Keep tarps and cords in the event you need to patch up holes in your house. When the storm arrives, flooding and downed power lines may require you to turn off your power and shut off your gas lines. If you live in a flood-prone area, it’s a good idea to waterproof your basement ahead of storm season and elevate your heating system, electric panel, and water heater. You can install a sump pump and get a water alarm that will notify you when the system is overloaded.
You and your family can source local contractors and home improvement specialists by getting a free, quick quote from Inspired Home Improvement by clicking here.
- Prepare your car in case you need to evacuate. Your car’s gas tank should be full before a storm arrives in the event you need to evacuate your house. Lines get long at gas pumps ahead of a storm, so take this precaution as early as possible. If you’re anticipating an evacuation order, make sure that your car has an emergency kit stored inside.
- Do not attempt to drive through floodwaters. Driving through floodwaters is more dangerous than it may seem. 12 inches of fast moving water is enough to sweep away a car. If you can’t see the bottom of a flooded area, you should avoid stepping into the water. A storm surge or flood can contaminate water with bacteria and chemicals. There could also be sharp objects or broken glass can puncture wounds and if not immediately treated could lead to tetanus or other infections. Downed power lines in the water may electrocute you and may cause instant death.
- Put a coin in a cup of frozen water in your freezer. Power outages can spoil everything in your fridge and it may not be clear whether your food is safe to eat. An easy trick to determine whether items in your fridge may have spoiled is to fill a cup with water and put it in the freezer until the water is frozen. Then put a coin on top of the frozen water and return it to the freezer. When you return, if your coin hasn’t moved, then you’ll know that your electricity didn’t go out for a long time during the storm. If the coin is resting at the bottom of the cup, your food is no longer safe to eat. Professionals recommend lowering the thermostat in your fridge and freezer to the lowest possible setting. That way, in the event of an outage, it will help keep your food fresh longer if the power stays out.
- Clean your home quickly after a storm ends to prevent mold growth. The Center for Disease Control recommends that you clean and dry your home within 24-48 hours after a flood ends, if possible. To air out your home, use fans to dry any wet areas and open the doors and windows. If you can’t dry something quickly, it is best to throw it out.
You may need to remove and throw away drywall and insulation if it has been contaminated with sewage. Pay attention to leaks in the roof or walls as well. If you spot mold, put on some protective equipment such as goggles, a respirator, and protective gloves and clean it. According to the Center for Disease Control, you should mix a cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water to clean off mold.
For additional resources on how you can prepare yourself ahead of Hurricane Dorian, go to the American Red Cross for more resources and information.
If your home was affected, and if you need help cleaning up, you should consider reaching out to Inspired Home Improvement to help you with your recovery efforts. Find local contractors that can help you rebuild after a storm.