Severe Weather Preparation Tips
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced that this year’s hurricane season may result in twice the number of hurricanes usually experienced in areas near the Atlantic ocean. This news comes just days after a hurricane devastated Moore, Oklahoma where the death toll is still rising. While still reeling from the effects of superstorm Sandy, the latest news from NOAA can’t be too comforting to people living close to the Atlantic coastline.
Predictions about severe weather patterns should never be ignored. While they can be unsettling, there are things that people can do to protect families and homes and to lessen the impact that strong weather conditions may have. The following are a few tips on how to prepare for the likelihood of such events:
Take Evacuation Warnings Seriously
When told to evacuate, it’s time to go. Really, it’s that simple. Yes, it is understandable that you don’t want to leave your home and all of your personal effects vulnerable to the elements, but evacuation warnings mean that it is not physically safe to remain in an area. To insist on staying at home despite an evacuation warning is to literally take your life in your own hands.
Expect the Worst
Often, people do not take storm warnings too seriously. This seems to particularly be the case for residents living in hurricane areas, as they’ve likely survived several previous storms and have confidence in surviving another. However, in the aftermath of recent weather events, many have confessed to being completely caught off guard by their force. Lately, it seems that hurricanes and superstorms have been far worse than expected, so it would be wise to adopt a worse-case-scenario mindset just in case.
Plan Vacations Around Severe Weather Seasons
If you have vacation time and can afford to get away for awhile, it may be a good idea to plan a getaway during the most severe weather months. Of course, it’s not realistic to be able to stay away from home during the entire hurricane or severe weather season– or even pinpointing exactly when a bad storm may hit, but getting away within this timeframe is worth a try.
Have a Getaway Plan
Even if you cannot organize a vacation that coincides with a severe weather event, everyone should at least have a getaway plan for when an evacuation is announced.
If Traveling By Car
- Keep your gas tank full throughout the entire severe weather season just in case you have to suddenly hit the road (gas stations often run out of fuel during these events, so stay prepared).
- Acquaint yourself ahead of time with roads less traveled (in order to avoid becoming stuck on frequently traveled routes out of town).
- Ahead of time, map out the locations of the five shelters closest to where you live and work.
- If possible and if your local shelters won’t accommodate pets, locate emergency pet shelters.
- Keep at least one emergency survival kit per family member in your car.
- Keep extra non-perishable food and water in your car at all times.
Designate a Meetup Location
If disaster strikes your neighborhood while you and your family are away from home and you’re unable to return to your house, be prepared to meet at a secondary location. Don’t rely on being able to call family members to find out their whereabouts during this time, as telephone service is usually the least reliable immediately following a natural disaster. Everyone in your family, including your children, should know of at least two backup locations (one close to home and one far away from your weather zone) just in case you become separated.
Designate an Out-Of-State Contact Person
Natural disasters don’t always strike when family members are gathered at home together. Downed telephone and power lines, blocked roads and chaos often makes it difficult for loved ones to locate each other in the immediate hours after a weather event. Unfortunately, people suffer injuries and end up in unexpected places while receiving treatment. It is also very likely that out-of-state relatives will panic upon hearing news of a weather event in your area and will begin to frantically search for you in hopes of learning about your safety. One way to streamline information between family members during these critical times is to designate a contact person out of state who can help coordinate messages between family members.
And, please, do not just store this person’s number in your mobile phone, but please memorize it so that you can use it regardless as to whether or not you have your phone or battery power.
After you’ve returned home following an evacuation, be sure to inspect your house for the following:
- Damaged or broken water pipes
- Gas leaks
- Broken windows
- Dead alarm batteries
(NOTE: Visit the Environmental Control department on our main page for a list of devices you can pre-install in order to be alerted about possible dangers or damage to your home due to flooding and extreme temperatures.)
We Need Your Input
Have you lived through a recent severe storm? Did you have to leave your home? What suggestions do you have for people who are possibly facing severe weather conditions? We love reading your thoughts and comments and look forward to any severe weather preparation tips you are willing to share below.