Hurricane season is upon us, last week we saw the devastation that Tropical Storm Harvey brought to Texas. Living in a coastal community, we should do our best to be both resilient to storms, and prepared in the event of one hitting us.
In an effort to make our homes “FEMA Compliant,” many are now taller and storm resistant, and many are still in the process of lifting and rebuilding. But have you considered what to do if a major storm was expected to hit us next week or month? What will you do? Does your entire household know the plan? Is your plan updated and tested? Creating and practicing a plan is just as important as other resiliency measures like elevating or installing backup generators.
Let’s all take a moment to ask, are we as prepared as we should be for another major storm?
Ready.gov, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s national public service campaign, offers the following advice on preparation kits.
In regards to storm “go-bags,” or kits, there are primarily two types: one is for a short-term evacuation — containing essentials for one to three days — and the other is for longer periods, for if you are displaced or when you return home and will be without utilities for an extended period. Ready.gov recommends that you have both types.
In the event that you have to leave quickly in an emergency, the organization suggests having your go-bag ready on a moment’s notice, and a clear list of what to pack in the event of an extended displacement.
Your evacuation go-bag should include cash, water, high energy foods, medications, layer-able clothing, copies of your IDs, medical information list, phone numbers, flashlight, back up batteries, blanket, toiletries, towel, pet food and baby needs. You may not have access to power or cellphone service, which is why it’s important to have printed backup lists and cash.
Practice your evacuation plan, how to secure your home and where you will meet. Update your family communications plan, and find a common place that is out of the evacuation zone for people to call and check into, most likely a relative who lives out of state. Remember to have only the essentials because traveling with too much may be difficult. In the event of a specific evacuation you may have time to grab other important items beforehand.
When planning on sheltering in place or returning from an evacuation, it’s good to have household disaster supplies kit. It is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. Before an emergency, you may not have time to search and shop for the supplies. You may need to survive on your own after an emergency.
This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantities to last for at least 72 to 120 hours. Assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency and make sure you keep it updated. Store it in a dry part of the home that would be accessible in case of a storm. If your basement or garage are your only storage options, elevate it on a pallet and organize it into plastic totes so you can move it when needed. It should include non-perishable foods, water, medications, clothing, tools, batteries, hand crank radio, and hygiene supplies. Replace and rotate the supplies at the change of every season.
In regard to water, you should store at least a gallon of water per person for three days. A normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. However, individual needs vary, depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.
As a credentialed FEMA Incident Command instructor and Community Emergency Response Team instructor, I meet people who say they’re prepared for another disaster. But when I ask how, they often come short with an answer. Let’s make sure we are ready.
Visit Ready.gov for more information.
Lt. Sam Pinto is a career firefighter, paramedic, nationally certified fire instructor, and certified fire and life safety educator. He can be reached at SPinto@iaff287.org.