The First 72 Are On You. Is Your Family Prepared?
If an emergency happens in your community, it may take emergency workers some time to reach you. You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours. The time to prepare is now!
Before Hurricane Season Begins –
Know your evacuation zones. Once you have determined which evacuation zone you are in, you should determine several evacuation routes – which one you might take in the event of an emergency will depend upon multiple factors and should be determined based upon the most updated information. Stay tuned to your local radio and/or TV stations and heed evacuation orders. Hurricane impacts are not limited to the coastline – strong winds and flooding rainfall often pose a threat across inland areas, along with the risk for tornadoes. Remember, emergency personnel cannot get to you in the middle of a hurricane. Know your risks and make educated decisions. Remember every storm is different. Many Mississippians died in Hurricane Katrina because they stayed in a house that “survived” Hurricane Camille and felt they would be safe. Your family is of more importance than your house. Make good choices.
Plan for Pets
In case of an emergency, remember that pets are not allowed in some public shelters or hotels because of certain health regulations. In case of an evacuation, prepare to take your pets with you to the home of a relative or friend, or take steps to identify pet-friendly hotels or pet boarding facilities in your area and further away from home. Don’t forget pet food and necessities for their safety and care.
Make sure that all family members know how to prepare for a hurricane.
Protect your windows.
- Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity and water.
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police or the fire department and which radio station to turn to for emergency information.
– Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use ½-inch plywood – marine grade plywood is best – cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18-inches for screws. Do this long before the storm!
Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.
Check into flood insurance.
– You can find out about the National Flood Insurance Program through your local insurance agent or emergency management office. There is normally a 30-day waiting period before a new policy becomes effective. Homeowner’s policies do not cover damages from the flooding which accompanies a hurricane.
Familiarize your family or co-workers with a Shelter-In-Place plan, should you decide not to evacuate. To Shelter-in-Place means you will remain in your home or workplace during an emergency and protect yourself there. While Sheltering-in-Place, you should listen to your local radio or TV stations for the latest updates. Emergency management officials may use radio broadcasts to give you further instructions. They will also let you know when the emergency has passed. Tips for sheltering-in-place:
- Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
- If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds or curtains.
- Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
- Close the fireplace damper.
- In case the power goes out:
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings; open them only when absolutely necessary and close quickly.
- Turn off major appliances to reduce the power surge when electricity is restored.
- Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
- Remember to listen to your battery-operated radio!
- Avoid elevators.
- Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, sinks, jugs, bottles and cooking utensils.
- TIP: First sterilize bathtubs and sinks with bleach, and then flush with water to remove bleach.
- Check the items in your Emergency Kit and review your Emergency Action Plan.
- Keep your pets with you and be sure to bring additional food and water supplies for them.
- Go to the safe room you have chosen. Remember:
- It should be an interior room that is without windows and is above ground level.
- It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone, rather than a cordless or cell phone.
- TIP: Unless the threat is a tornado, AVOID the basement. This is important during severe weather events, when your basement may become flooded. It is also important during chemical emergencies. Some chemicals are heavier than air and may seep into basements, even if the windows are closed.
- Call the friend or family member you have identified as your family’s Emergency Contact.
- Keep the phone available in case you need to report a life-threatening condition.
- Keep listening to your radio or television until you are told all is safe or until you are told to evacuate or take other protective actions.
- Depending on the emergency, local officials may call for evacuation or health-related actions in specific areas at greatest risk in your community.
For more information on ways to protect property during a hurricane and other high-wind weather events, visit the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) website. See the link to the right.