You may have smelled it in the air already: storm season is on its way. Forecasters are predicting a busy hurricane season, and now more than ever it’s important to know what to do when one, or another kind of natural disaster, hits. You don’t want to be caught unprepared in the storm, and you certainly don’t want to be left without a clue of what to do after the event takes place. To get you started, here are 5 ways you can prepare for hurricane and storm season. They can save you time, stress, and maybe even your life.
1. Store important documents somewhere safe
Paper doesn’t exactly do well in a hurricane, and family photos can’t be replaced with an insurance payout. One of the first things you should do when you hear the storms coming is make sure your essential documents and photos are somewhere weatherproof and easy to find. It’s hard to fully protect against fire, but in a hurricane, it’s water and wind you should really be worried about. Find a document safe that’s water and shockproof, then throw all your important papers in there.
Photographs, birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, even documents you theoretically could replace but won’t want to. You might be able to get a new social security card, but when your entire neighborhood just lost theirs too, the social security office is going to have a long line, if it’s still standing.
2. Secure your belongings inside and out
When the wind hits, the things you have outside become everyone’s problem, especially yours. Patio furniture, barbecues, and anything freestanding on your porch or yard should be chained up or taken inside. You don’t want to see your trampoline rolling down the street, and neither does anybody that’s trying to drive out of town. Speaking of which, you should also find higher ground to park your car. Find somewhere close but elevated so you can evacuate in a hurry and not find your car already washed out.
You’re not done when the outdoor furniture and décor is indoors. Windows should be shuttered, doors locked, and anything hanging outside or inside should be taken down. Once all that’s done, your next job is to find the safest room in the house to hunker down through the storm if you can’t evacuate. Most experts recommend a first-floor bathroom with no windows.
3. Stay as informed as you can
If your Wi-Fi goes down in a light breeze, it’s not going to stand up to a hurricane. A radio might be your most important piece of storm equipment. It can keep you connected to evacuation orders and keep you in the loop about how the storm is moving, power outages, and more. You don’t want to look up and think it’s clear skies when you’re actually in the eye.
The American Red Cross FRX3+ Multi-Powered Weather Alert Radio is an excellent choice if you’re preparing for storm season. This crank-powered rechargeable radio has a solar panel and a hand turbine so you don’t have to depend on the grid to keep informed. This radio comes with a built-in alert function that automatically broadcasts weather alerts in your area, so you don’t have to channel surf looking for news, either.
What makes this radio stand out is that it also works as a generator to recharge smartphones, an LED flashlight, and a warning beacon. Charge this radio, then throw it in a bag to wait for when you need it. As one Amazon reviewer found, the battery certainly lasts long enough to set it and forget it: “I placed it back into its box and into the dark emergency kit on March 15 and checked April 11; all functions worked.”
4. Know where to go
Sometimes the safest place to go is away. There’s only so much you can do at home to protect against a storm, and most of that is going to be negated if your roof is torn off. Make a plan for where you and your loved ones will go during and after the storm if you can’t stay in your homes. The worst thing in the world is not knowing if the people you love most are safe. Know exactly where they’ll be so you can find out for sure.
For evacuation orders, stay tuned to your NOAA radio. You’ll get directions for where people in your neighborhood need to evacuate to. From there, you can find out how to contact your friends and family and stick together.
5. Put together a go-bag
This might be the most important thing you can do in preparation for storm season. When the evacuation order comes, you go. You may not have time to run through your home to pack. That’s why you pack a bag in advance with all you’ll need to survive for a few days. When you’re packing, there are a few key things you need to include: non-perishable food, water, medicine, utility supplies, and a few essential electronics.
Pack enough food and water for a few days. Most rescue efforts get organized quickly, but in some cases, it can be days before supplies come through. That’s what happened with Katrina, and you don’t want to be left waiting. The food you pack should mostly be dry goods that don’t need to be refrigerated. Canned fruit and vegetables, trail mix, and protein bars are all a good way to go. If you’d take it on a long hike, it can likely go in the bag. For water, most experts recommend one gallon per person per day for three days.
When you pack your medicine, look for general first aid and prescriptions. Key first-aid supplies include bandages, sanitizing wipes and spray, painkillers, and gauze. It’s also worth it to just have a basic first-aid kit in the house at all times. For prescriptions, grab everything. You never know when the pharmacy will be open again and contacting your doctor for refills might be hard if they evacuated too.
And don’t forget your pets! They’ll need a lot of what’s mentioned above so be sure to account for their food, water, medicine, etc.
The last thing you should pack are those essential electronics that you can’t live without. Your phone, laptop, and a good radio are well worth the space they take up if you can stay informed or contact your loved ones and let them know you’re safe.