Since the 1970s, the power of hurricanes has increased by about 70%. We can't change what unusually powerful hurricanes like Ike, Katrina, and Rita have done, but we can learn from the lessons they taught us.
Lesson 1: Be Prepared In Advance
It takes time to prepare for an emergency. If you live in a place that's prone to hurricanes, disaster preparations should be made far before the news reports that a storm is heading your way. Think through your disaster plan with your family or co-workers. Have supplies stored in your basement or garage now, so that when news of an impending hurricane starts, you can begin preparing your home right away. You don't want to be standing in line at the grocery or hardware store while a hurricane looms off the coast.
Lesson 2: Have a Plan
Your emergency disaster plan should include information about your meeting place, a list of local evacuation sites, and a disaster kit with essential items in it. You should also designate an out-of-state contact person that family members can call to check-in about you. Here are a few more considerations:
** What will you do with family pets?
** What will you do if the children are at school or you are at work?
** What phone numbers would be handy to have during a disaster?
** Will anyone need prescription medication? If so, how can you stock up beforehand?
** How will you begin recovering after the storm?
Lesson 3: Remember How Unpredictable Hurricanes Can Be
Meteorological tools have greatly advanced in the last ten years, but no one can really tell what a strong storm will do next. Some hurricanes peter out within a matter of hours; others gain incredible destructive power in the same time frame.
If a hurricane has been predicted for your area, keep tabs on what several sources are saying about the storm. One news outlet may have more up-to-date information than another.
Lesson 4: Evacuate If Orders Have Been Placed
Hurricane Ike's damage was not only the result of high winds. Like Hurricane Katrina, Ike flooded many homes and businesses, a situation that can be very deadly. Those that did not heed calls to evacuate were left in dire and sometimes deadly conditions.
Don't try to tough it out or stay behind to protect your belongings when an evacuation order has been issued for your area. If city officials tell you to get out, get out.
Lesson 5: Wait For the Green Light Before Going Home
It is natural to want to go home immediately after a storm has passed. You want to see if there is any damage. You are ready to call your insurance agent. Remember, however, that clean-up crews need time to clear roads of debris and power lines that may have fallen. Additionally, flood waters could be contaminated with a dangerous toxins, so don't return until your officials tell you it is safe to do so.
One of the most important things we can take away from the deadly hurricanes of the Gulf Coast is that we need to be responsible for our families and ourselves. No one else is going to force you to plan for an emergency situation. It is important to be readyâ€”your life depends on it.
~Flora Richards-Gustafson, 2009
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Flora is a frequent writer for Rapid Refile, LLC.
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