With Hurricane Irma on its way, it is vital that everyone prepares a disaster kit and a checklist in case of emergency.
By starting early, you can avoid the chaos that occurs at grocery stores when a hurricane is coming. Here are some basics to keep stocked at your home:
- Water – Keep one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation. You can fill up your bath tub with water to flush your toilet in case of power outages. You can also freeze bags of water to use for pets or to keep your freezer cool; a full freezer stays colder than an empty one.
- Food – Keep at least a three-day supply of non-perishable foods, such as ready to eat canned meats, fruits, and veggies. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. Also, make sure you have enough food for babies and pets.
- First Aid Supplies – Your first aid kit may vary, but some basics to keep are bandages, gauze, hand sanitizer, antiseptic, medical gloves, tweezers, and a thermometer. Do some research on what you require for special needs. You can also purchase a pre-made first aid kit.
- Clothing & Sanitation – Be prepared with toilet paper, soap, feminine supplies, garbage bags, disinfectant. Also be sure to have clean blankets or sleeping bags and rain gear. Make sure you have any special items, such as baby diapers and medications.
- Tools & Emergency Supplies – Some emergency supplies include batteries, flashlights, non-electric can opener, tape, aluminum foil, paper, pencils, and a wrench. Get a NOAA weather radio and set it to your county. It’s also helpful to have portable cell phone battery chargers, remember to charge them fully before the storm hits. (Download a full checklist here)
Keep your important documents and possessions safe. Keep records such as insurance policies, deeds, passports, social security cards, and more in waterproof, portable containers. These items should be kept in a place known to all family members.
Pay attention to local government
By declaring a state of emergency in all 67 Florida counties, Governor Scott is ensuring that local governments have ample time, resources and flexibility to get prepared for this dangerous storm and are not hindered, delayed or prevented from taking all necessary actions to keep communities safe. Stay alert to local weather and news for any announcements for evacuation.
Develop an emergency plan for you and your family.
When making a plan, it’s important to think about specific needs.
Step 1: Put together a plan by discussing these 4 questions with your household to start your plan.
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is my shelter plan?
- What is my evacuation route?
- What is my family/household communication plan?
Step 2: Consider specific needs in your household.
As you prepare your plan tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance. Keep in mind some these factors when developing your plan:
- Different ages of members within your household
- Responsibilities for assisting others
- Locations frequented
- Dietary needs
- Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
- Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
- Languages spoken
- Cultural and religious considerations
- Pets or service animals
- Households with school-aged children
Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan
Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use them as a guide to create your own.
Step 4: Practice your plan with your family/household
If you aren’t evacuating, prepare your home.
- Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
- Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
- Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors.
- Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
- Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high-winds and in locations above flooding levels.
All in all, keep up with weather updates and act early. Your home can be rebuilt, but your life cannot.