Hurricane season has arrived, and like every year, early preparedness is essential if you want to ensure that you and your family can avert danger. Hurricanes bring extensive damage to people and properties every year, and knowing how you should prepare can make all the difference when it comes to surviving through hurricanes safely and effectively.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed disaster response and preparedness in 2020. Governmental bodies like the CDC have updated their guidelines on how to prepare for a hurricane this year.
Has the pandemic changed how you should prepare for a hurricane?
Preparing ahead of time, especially if you live near the coast, can help you successfully avoid many of the dangers that hurricanes bring. This year, the global coronavirus pandemic has already changed how people interact in society. Everyone has to maintain social distancing, use hand sanitizers, and wear masks at all times.
Shopping at the local grocery store or supermarket now carries risk of contracting the new disease, and this has huge implications for how you should prepare for the pandemic. Evacuation shelters this year can become hotspots for the disease if they become too crowded and people don’t follow health and safety guidelines.
Most importantly, hospitals are fast getting overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients, and this means that if you or a loved one gets hurt during the hurricane season, you may not be able to receive medical assistance as easily as previous years. It could also be dangerous to visit a hospital that is treating Covid-19 patients, as you could contract the disease, which brings health risks of its own. So what should you do to protect yourself and your family during the hurricane season?
Covid-19 and Preparing Emergency Supplies for the Hurricane Season
This year, more so than any ever before, you have to get a head start on making your disaster preparation kits. These kits contain all the supplies you’ll need to last through the hurricane season, and include food, medicine and emergency supplies. In 2020, home delivery is there best way for you to gather these supplies. This is as venturing out to gather supplies exposes you to the risk of getting Covid-19. Instead, wherever possible, always for home delivery.
To make sure that you can last through the hurricane season, you’ll need:
- Food supplies: Keep around three weeks of food supplies at home. This ensures that even if the roads are blocked and it’s dangerous to venture out, you and your loved ones will always have access to enough food. Fruits and vegetables don’t last for very long, and can quickly spoil within the first week. Ideally, you should buy non-perishable food products like beans, rice, flour, legumes, dried herbs etc. Vegetables and fruits shouldn’t be cut out of your diet entirely either – opt for canned products for the hurricane season, and keep a can opener handy at home. Frozen meat products won’t spoil for a few weeks, and neither will eggs. Avoid easily perishable foodstuffs however, unless you plan to use them up early on.
- Water: You don’t know for sure how the hurricane will affect your area. Especially if you’re living in a dangerous zone and the local authorities have warned you to stay safe and prepare to evacuate – storing bottled water is a good idea in case there is an emergency and the water supplies are affected.
- Medical Supplies: You’ll need to prepare essential medical supplies for at least two weeks. This will help you make it through the hurricane season. Ensure that the medical kit contains basic first aid equipment such as band aids, medical scissors, antiseptics, antibiotics, paracetamol, stomach medicine and everything else you think you could need in those two weeks. Keep in mind that you’re facing a potential disaster scenario, and that your medical kit should be built to address both physical ailments, as well as injuries from accidents. If you need to buy prescription medicine, then keep a month’s supply handy. This not only gets you through the hurricane season, but also it’s aftermath in case you’re unable to get your prescriptions filled after the hurricane until your area is deemed safe.
- Pet Supplies: If you own a pet, then make sure that you have enough food and medical supplies for them to last three weeks as well.
- Household Supplies: Everyday supplies such as disinfectants, buckets, mops, and household cleaners should be available for the month.
- Emergency Gear: Aside from medical supplies, you also need to ensure that you have a flashlight handy at all times. In case your phone stops working, and the power goes out, a flashlight will ensure that you still have visibility in the dark. Emergency lights are also a good idea. Aside from these, keep a backup battery as well as a power bank to charge your phone with.
- Pandemic Supplies: Covid-19 presents unique challenges in addition to your standard disaster preparation. This year, you’ll also have to stock up on enough face masks, hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol, soap and hand wash. Keep cloth coverings for the face as well as scarves handy in case you run out of face masks. Cloth covering should not be used by anyone who is less than two years old, anyone who suffers from breathing difficulties, or anyone who would not be able to remove the covering by themselves.
- Evacuation Kit: Also known as a ‘Go Bag’, an evacuation kit should contain only absolutely essential equipment. It should be light in weight, so that you can easily pick it up and escape any dangerous scenarios with it, and it should contain enough supplies for one or two days. In case you need to evacuate to an emergency shelter, all you’ll have to do is pick up your packed evacuation kit and leave for safety.
Aside from supplies, the most important thing that will help you safely make it through the hurricane season is reliable information. You have to stay up to date on all guidelines from your local and state governmental authorities on the hurricane, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. Remember that this year, your evacuation shelter may change due to the pandemic, and new rules would apply – such as temperature checks and maintaining six feet distance between everyone in the shelter at all times.
How do you get all the information you need to stay safe through the hurricane season?
The first thing you’ll need to do is set up weather alert notifications from a trusted source, so that you will be mentally prepared before the hurricane arrives. These notifications will let you know what to expect, when the hurricane is supposed to land, and keep you updated on what is happening in your area.
The National Weather Service provides reliable weather alerts that send information straight to your cell phone. Another reliable resource is the National Weather Service’s Twitter account, which is @NWS. Aside from these, you should also follow local news channels and their social media accounts so that you can keep up to date with announcements made by local and state governmental bodies.
Ensure that you have the following information before the hurricane arrives:
- Where is the evacuation center nearest to your home? This year, the evacuation center may be different from previous years owing to the pandemic, so knowing the exact location earlier on will help you chart the best route to get there.
- Understand whether pets are allowed at the evacuation shelter nearest to your home. If they aren’t, look for one that does allow pets. Shelters that allow pets inside usually make separate accommodations for them, so either ensure that your pet is chipped so they can be tracked in case they get lost, or provide them with a collar that has your information on it.
- Make ID cards for everyone in your family that contain relevant contact information, especially for the children. Your cell phone may not work properly during the hurricane, and in case you and your loved ones get separated, you’ll be able to find them using the contact information ID cards.
- Keep your family informed about a designated space where everyone should gather you and your family get separated because of the hurricane.
- Prepare your means of getting to an evacuation centre or shelter, should you need to. If you’re helping someone, or getting help from someone when it comes to traveling, then maintain regular communication with them during the hurricane season so that you can easily make your way to safety together.
Moving to a location with friends or family that is outside the purview of the hurricane is also an option. But in this case, you should prioritise the safety of anyone who is at risk for contracting Covid-19. The final important step you should undertake to be best prepared for the hurricane season, is to safeguard all your important documents. These include:
- Birth certificates
- Social Security Numbers
- Academic Qualifications
- Insurance policies
- House deeds
- Mortgage documents
- Lease and loan documents
- Updated and current digital photographs of everyone in the family, including pets
- Photographs of any valuable especially if you want to file an insurance claim later on
Throughout the hurricane season, especially if you have to evacuate to a shelter, ensure that you maintain social distancing, keep washing your hands or using a hand sanitizer, and make you and your family’s health your top priority. By preparing early and staying ahead of the game, you’ll be able to safely survive both the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the hurricane season.