Tropical Storm Andrea was the first named storm  of the 2013 hurricane season, and if tradition repeats itself, it will not be the last. As the years have gone by, the hurricane seasons have become more active, especially for the Atlantic Ocean. Many of us can remember when there were at least three well-defined hurricanes in the Atlantic, each following the same path as the one previous to it. How distressful this must have been for residents who were in the storms’ path. They were faced with the decision of abandoning their homes, or hunkering down and getting lashed time after time again by monstrous hurricanes. What would you do if you lived in those areas? What will you do if you at present reside in an area that is prone to hurricanes?
The answer is getting prepared.
The 2012 hurricane season culminated in many disastrous hurricanes that caused billions of dollars in damage to the United States alone, not to mention the residents of the island nations. Those nations were decimated by the hurricanes. Starting with hurricane Alberto and topping it off with the unusual Hurricane Sandy, the Atlantic Ocean saw its fair share of costly and deadly hurricanes. In all, the 2012 hurricane season claimed 354 lives and cost nearly 79 billion dollars in damage! The damage was widespread and with Hurricane Sandy, it touched areas that had not been touched before by super hurricanes such as Sandy.
What to do before a hurricane is predicted for your area
Start by planning and preparing to evacuate to safety. Have a friend or relative in mind whose home you could go to in order to ride out the storm. This is all a part of making your emergency evacuation plan. An emergency evacuation plan is just that—a plan that outlines what you will do in the event of an emergency. This is good to have even for emergencies other than hurricanes, such as tornadoes, wildfires, floods, and/or industrial accidents.
Building an emergency kit is essential for any emergency contingency plan. Along with that emergency survival kit, you would need a family communication plan set in place for your family. Let’s explain those two features of your emergency plan for a minute.
Your emergency kit will be your lifeline once a crisis happens. Inside your kit you will need the basics to keep you and your family alive. For instance, you will need food, water supply, over-the-counter and prescription medication, medical supplies, sanitation needs, cell phone, clothing, and something recreational for the mental wellbeing of your family. Your kit should help you manage through the absence of basic utilities such as your electric, water, and plumbing systems. These things usually quit working for a time after a hurricane, thus increasing the distress of the ones suffering through it.
Your family communication plan is vital in order to keep track of them during and after a hurricane. What happens if your family gets separated during the evacuation? This is enough to cause extreme distress for the entire family! Do not allow this to befall you. In order to make sure your family knows what to do and how to reach each other, you will need to have a communications plan in place. It doesn’t need to be very complex either. It could be as simple as instructing everyone to call a certain contact person (out of state) to check in with them. That way you can be sure that even if you are separated, you will be able to know that your family is accounted for. Make sure every one of your members has a phone that has texting capabilities. The reason for this is because during emergencies when cell phone calls are disrupted, usually a person could still send text messages to one another. Some cellular services such as AT&T and T-Mobile have family locator apps which will tell you exactly where your family members are at all times.
What to do when the hurricane is coming your way?
Now is the time to actively prepare your home for the impending storm. Your goal is to secure your home as best as possible, even if your plan is to ride out the storm. While paying attention to the updates on the storm’s path, box up any valuables or sentimental items and pack them away safely. Be sure to know where and how to evacuate. When you know for sure that the hurricane is in fact coming your way, make a trip to the local Home Depot or similar hardware store and stock up on items to board up your windows and doors. Preplanning on this step will allow you to purchase plywood way ahead of time and have it stored, just in case. Be mindful though that there will be a run on these stores when a hurricane is on its way. It’s a first-come first-serve basis, and most people tend to forget about courtesy in a time of crisis. So keep this in mind.
Secure your home thoroughly. This is so important because anything left unsecured could mean death to someone else! An outdoor patio set unsecured could become missiles of destruction for your neighbor’s home. It is also important to trim back trees that may pose a hazard to you and your neighbors. Be sure to cable down everything that may become airborne during a storm with high winds.
After the storm, once the all-clear has been made, return to your home. If you chose to hunker down, then be sure to come out only when the all-clear has been made. This will be a very hard time for you because hurricanes are very destructive. Prepare yourself mentally for what you will see as a result of the destruction and the cleanup work ahead of you!