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Hurricane and Other Natural Disasters Tips

We have had two major hurricane that hit many places and while some were prepared many were not. Here are some tips for preparing yourself and family.

  1. Anyone who isn’t a prepper is nuts. I’ll just start off with that blanket statement. Are you prepared for a hurricane as everyone is fighting over cases of water bottles at the store. Having a mean to filter and distill water would be the long term solution.
  2. Don’t go through any medical procedure the day before a hurricane hits. If it gets infected there are no medical service available short of a trip to the ER.
  3. Get flood insurance, even if you live in an area that doesn’t traditionally flood. Homeowners insurance does not cover damage caused by water coming into your house.
  4. Charge all electronics, including solar battery chargers, in the days leading up to something like this. Afterwards, just keep them fully charged, since power outages happen regularly.
  5. Social media is an absolute necessity in times like this. Facebook groups have popped up, connecting neighbor with neighbor and allowing us to loan/borrow things like box fans, extension cords, chain saws, and the like. People are coming out of the woodwork to help out, and it’s because of Facebook.
  6. Nextdoor.com is another life saver.
  7. Heavy duty galoshes (rain boots) can be worth their weight in gold. Trudging through inches and feet of floodwater can be dangerous without boots.
  8. Always have a few filled gas cans around.
  9. If you do make a run to the grocery store in the days leading up to a big storm or something similar, go ahead and throw in some goodies you don’t normally buy.
  10. Get a few solar lights or lanterns. When our power was out, these lights and lantern are just perfect for providing enough light for a work area or for reading.
  11. Your relatives and friends are going to worry about you, so just accept that and get used to repeating the same information again and again. How wonderful to have people who care about your safety!
  12. Call your insurance company or agent ASAP. They will respond to claims in the order received, so get in there early.
  13. If you experience damage that FEMA may help cover, register with them ASAP also. You’ll receive a registration number. Save that on your cell phone and email it to yourself so it will always be handy.
  14. If you do lose everything, or at least a LOT of what you own, go ahead and cry and ignore people who say things like, “It’s just things. You’re lucky to be alive.” It’s okay to grieve over ruined things. They were a part of your life. They represented what was once normal and now that is gone, at least for now. Cry all you want to and need to without making any excuses.
  15. If you think you may end up without power, go on that assumption and prepare. Run small loads of laundry once a day, run the dishwasher, even when it’s only half full. If the power goes out, you’ll be starting out with clean clothes and dishes.
  16. Pressure canning can be one way to preserve meat that is in the freezer in a power outage. Again, if you think your power may go out, start canning that meat right away. If you have a gas range, you can do the canning without electricity.
  17. You’ll need matches to light the burners on your gas range when the power goes out. Make sure you have plenty of matches. Buy 3 or 4 big boxes. They’re cheap.
  18. Prepare your home for guests. In the case of hundreds or thousands of people being displaced, a very simple way to help is to open up your home, even if just for a few hours. Provide a peaceful, safe haven for families who have lost everything. I think hospitality is greatly overlooked when it comes to disaster recovery.
  19. Not all phone weather apps are the same. Find one you like.
  20. Be prepared for emotional ups and downs.
  21. Get outside when you can do so safely.
  22. Bicycles can get places where vehicles cannot. On a bike you’ll be able to check out storm damage, visit neighbors, run errands, and get fresh air and exercise at the same time.
  23. Be aware of downed electrical wires.
  24. Think about all the volunteers who are going to be thirsty and hungry. Pack brown bag lunches for them and have the kids help out.
  25. One thing we all take for granted is clean laundry. People with flooded homes will not be able to do laundry and wearing damp, dirty clothes for hours and maybe days at a time is uncomfortable and disheartening. Offer to do laundry for them as an easy way to volunteer.
  26. Buy a few respirators when you begin cleaning out flooded homes. During the Katrina clean-up, many people contracted debilitating illnesses due to inhaling mold and mildew spores.
  27. Consider how you’ll care for your pets both during and after a disaster. Stock up on pet food and kitty litter, if you have cats. If your home is damaged, how will you keep your pets from running away? Make sure you have kennels for them and they are wearing collars with ID tags and have been microchipped.
  28. If you see a stray pet, keep it safe until you can find its owner. Animal shelters are quickly overwhelmed and at capacity. Use Facebook groups for your town and community and Nextdoor.com to reunite pets and owners.
  29. Children may be the most traumatized group of all. Don’t overburden them with your every random thought about doom and gloom! Give them constructive things to do, so they feel they are contributing something important to the family’s survival.
  30. If you are going to help with flood recovery, be sure to wear protective gear, including the respirator mentioned above. Wear boots that go above your ankle a few inches to protect from snake bites and fire ants and heavy work gloves.
  31. Don’t advertise on social media or elsewhere that your home has been flooded and you’re leaving. This just gives looters information that will help them locate your home, specifically.
  32. Even if you can’t help with actual demo work inside flooded homes, you can loan tools, small generators, filled gas cans, work gloves, extension cords, and fans. Label them with your name and phone number but in the madness of storm recovery, you may not get them back.
  33. Stock up on those black, heavy duty trash bags. They’ll come in handy for storm debris, ruined food, mildewed clothes, pieces of wet sheetrock, etc.
  34. Fill your freezer with bags of ice. It will come in handy during while power is out and can be used to keep food and drinks cold for volunteers and rescue workers.
  35. When floodwater is coming in, turn off your electricity at the main breaker and keep it off.
  36. With road closures, you may not have clear passage to help out at shelters, help neighbors muck out their homes, and reach rescue workers, so be prepared to walk. A heavy duty wagon is super helpful at a time like this, as is a bike trailer, for carrying tools, food, and other supplies.
  37. Take both video and photos of your home’s belongings. Some insurance companies prefer one over the other so have both.
  38. As you replace ruined belongings, carpet, sheetrock, and the like, keep every single receipt. If you can, scan them and save them to the cloud or email the scanned images to yourself.
  39. Don’t be surprised if you are overwhelmed with kind offers of help.
  40. Take care of yourself. You’re going to need a mental break every now and then.
  41. Use some kind map app to find look for road closures, which is immensely helpful.
  42. If you don’t know your neighbors now, you soon will! Be the first one to reach out with offers of a hot cup of coffee, a couple of hours of babysitting for a stressed out mom, or heavy duty labor to help an elderly person clear out their yard.
  43. Don’t wig out every time you hear a news report, especially on social media. If it doesn’t come directly from an official channel, then take a few deep breaths and wait until it’s verified.
  44. It will take a while for life to return to a new normal.
  45. If you have skills in administration and logistics, put them to work! One neighborhood can set up their own volunteer check-in desk at the entrance to their subdivision! As volunteers arrive, they are directed to specific homes in need of help. To do this, you’ll need neighborhood maps, roving volunteers with walkie-talkies to assess damage and report to the control center, and, of course, food and water is appreciated. This is a brilliant example of micro-emergency response.
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Seven 15 Minute Preps to Get Ready for Hurricane Season

Seven 15 Minute Preps to Get Ready for Hurricane Season

Seven 15 Minute Preps for Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricane preparedness is key for anyone who lives within a few hundred miles of the coast. Hurricanes and tropical storms can form and make landfall in less than 24 hours. Impacts are felt far inland, not just the coastal areas. Here are a few steps to get you started when preparing for the hurricane season. Each prep takes 15 minutes or less to complete and will put you on the right track to be better prepared.

Keep Your Vehicle Gas Tank At Least Half Full Throughout the Season

When tropical storm or hurricanes threaten, one of the first commodities to go is gasoline. Always try to keep your tanks half full. This can keep you out of long lines at the pump, allow you to get a jump on an evacuation, or even prepare you for rationing if it occurs.

Check Flashlights, Lanterns, Radios, and Other Communications Gear

Home Emergency Supply KitPull those flashlights and lanterns out of the cabinet and light up the room! Be sure the batteries are good and the light is functional before you need it. Turn on your AM/FM radio and turn to a couple different channels to be sure it is functional. This is a great time to check and see if you can tune in to your local emergency station from your homestead, work, or other location. If you can not tune in to the emergency station, identify a secondary alternative. This is also a good opportunity to test two way communications gear or family communications plans with the family. And don’t forget to keep a few extra sets of batteries on hand.

Validate Your Insurance and Secure Important Documents

The worst time to find out you forgot to pay your insurance bill is after you lost a roof or got flooded because of a storm. Take the opportunity at the beginning of the season to Validate Insurancelocate the latest copies of your insurance documents (flood, windstorm, home, renters, etc.) and store them in a waterproof container (a freezer bag works great).

Flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires a 30 day waiting period after payment of premium before the policy goes into effect. If you are on the fence about whether or not to get it, make the decision now so your policy is active before the season ramps up.

Keep your documents in a readily accessible location in case you have to quickly grab them to evacuate. This is also a great time to identify and store your policy number and phone number used to file a claim. If your policy documents get lost or destroyed due to storm damage, not knowing those numbers can delay the claims process. Having this information can help streamline your filing and keep your claim on the top of the insurance company’s claims pile.

Load Test Your Generator

Most people never test their generator until they need it. Of those that do test it, the majority just start it up and let it run. Take the few minutes to start up your generator and plug in a load. Include anything you plan to run during or after the storm. Let it run for 10-15 minutes, but if you have more time, the longer the better. This will allow you to confirm the generator can handle the expected load after a storm. It will also allow you to approximate the rate of fuel consumption. As a follow-up, calculate the amount of fuel you have and how much runtime it will provide. Get more fuel to store if required. Also, don’t forget the oil!

Plan Your EvacuationPlan Your Evacuation

If you plan to evacuate, review your evacuation route and potential alternates. Identify potential food and fuel stops along the routes. Be sure to account for the fact that you will probably be dealing with traffic so you will travel less distance on a tank than usual. Ensure you have a place to go that is outside of the impact area. Relatives or friends are great, but confirm with them ahead of time. If that isn’t an option, identify a lodging location and check it out before you need it. Hotel and motel rooms fill up fast once an evacuation is triggered. Make reservations ahead of time and pay attention to the cancellation policy. For many major chains you can cancel with no charge up to 24 hours prior to check in. So you can cancel if the storm changes course. You don’t want to be stuck at the run down place that charges by the hour!

Start Building Your Home Emergency Supply Kit

One of the easiest and most important supply kits to develop is your Home Emergency Supply Kit. It is already started with the non-perishable food in your pantry and water in your water heater. Add on a little from there each time you shop online or go to the grocery store. Since your home is your storage bin, it provides ample space for storage and organization of supplies when compared to bag based go kits.

Keep Cash on Hand in Small Denominations

Cash is KingWhen the power goes out, electronic payment methods and ATM machines don’t work. Don’t expect to pay with credit on your next run to refill your gas cans. Keep cash on hand and in a secure location. Small denominations are important unless you want to use that crisp $100 Benjamin to pay for $20 worth of wood and tarps at your local hardware store. Many retailers quickly run out of the ability to make change, so small denominations allow you to keep more of that money in your pocket.

The List Goes On

When it comes to preparing for a Hurricane there is a number of items that need to be considered and many decisions that must be made. These are just a few items that are quick and easy to get out of the way at the beginning of the season while also preparing you for a number of other hazards.

The more time you devote to pre-planning these matters before hand, the less stress they will bring when the incident occurs. For kids and adults alike, having a plan provides a small sense of comfort and control during the chaos of a disaster.

 

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4 Ways to Storm-proof Your Home

Throughout the year, especially in the spring and summer, you might experience severe storms at your home. Protect your home before severe weather arrives by walking around the home and making a list of what needs to be done. When you know what you need to fix, then you can begin to get the materials that are needed so that your family is protected.

Roofing

Check the shingles of the roof to make sure there aren’t any that are loose. If there are strong winds in the storm, then the shingles could get blown away. At times, the roof could receive damage to the point that there are small holes, which would allow water to get inside the home. When you’re checking the roof, it’s best to check the gutters as well to make sure they are clear of debris, allowing water to drain. If your roof needs repairs, be sure to consult a roofing and construction professional.

Trees

Keep limbs of trees and hedges cleared away from the sides of the home, windows and the roof. You should also check with the electrical company to see if limbs can be cut away from power lines. If a tree limb, or tree, were to fall in the direction of the home or near a line, then it could prove disastrous as windows could be broken, and power could be lost. Any dead trees should be cut down as they are the weakest in the yard and the easiest to blow over.

Shutters and Doors

Make sure the windows and doors are supported. Qualified construction companies can install shutters on the windows to help decrease the possibilities of debris flying into the home during a severe storm. Ordinary glass windows usually don’t withstand against harsh winds the way storm-proof windows can. Doors can also be reinforced with a second storm door to provide a bit of protection if hail, rain, or debris does get blown into the front of the home.

The Extras

One of the things that you might not think about right before a storm is that there are toys and other items outside that can get tossed in the air. Keep all of the loose items, such as water hoses, toys and gardening tools, in a secure area. This could be a storage shed or a small plastic container that is secured to the ground.

Before storm season arrives is the time to make sure the home is protected. Examine the windows to see that they are reinforced. Check the roof as well as the limbs on the trees to minimize damage. Keep the little things put away so that they aren’t blown into the side of the home. These tips can help keep your home and family safe.

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Natural Disasters: Emergency Preparedness Checklist

There are a number of different emergency events that people prepare for; unfortunately, far too many people ignore the most likely ones and focus on things that may or may not ever happen. But there are some events that are actually pretty predictable. At some point, everyone is going to have to deal with a natural disaster, so preparing for these events is something that we all need to take seriously.

What to expect:

While every disaster will have its own set of unique challenges, there are some things that you can expect during most natural disasters. Whether it’s a hurricane, flood, earthquake, wildfire, or even just extreme seasonal storms, there are a number of things you should be prepared to deal with.

  • Expect to be without utilities for several days to several weeks. That means services like electricity, gas, and water could be affected.
  • Disruptions in Food Distribution. Depending on the severity of the disaster, it’s very likely that you will see at least temporary disruptions in food delivery systems. Your local grocery stores may have trouble keeping food on the shelves.
  • Loss of Infrastructure Services. Things like trash collection, emergency services, and even hospital services could be affected.
  • Crime, Looting, and Violence. During most disasters there is usually a pretty big uptick in the amount of crime. From unprepared people who are desperate to find supplies, to the lowlifes who prey on the innocent in the aftermath of a disaster, this is something that has become far too common of an occurrence post-disaster.

Do you know what Disasters are most likely in your Area?

In order to plan for emergencies, you need to know what disasters are most likely to affect your immediate area.

  • Do you live in an earthquake zone?
  • Is your home situated in a flood plain?
  • What disasters have affected your geographical location in the past?

If you live in an area that is prone to a certain type of natural disaster, then that’s where you need to start your planning.

Do you have an evacuation plan in Place?

Being prepared for natural disasters means preparing for the possibility of having to evacuate your home, and possibly even your city or state. Events like hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes can create a situation where hunkering down could prove to be a life-threatening decision. It’s essential that you have a plan in place to deal with evacuation causing disasters.

Depending on where you live, millions of people could be hitting the roads trying to flee the area.

If you don’t have a plan, or you decide to wait for the government to issue an evacuation notice before you leave, you’re probably not going to get out of town on time. At the very least, you will find yourself stuck for hours in traffic with hordes of people all trying to escape; but more likely, you will probably find yourself stuck in the danger zone without a way of getting out.

  • Your plan should have a trigger. You need to decide ahead of time what things would need to happen for you to kick your plan into place.
  • You need to keep communication in mind and have a plan for contacting your loved ones during an emergency.
  • You need to practice your plan before disaster strikes.

Is your Home Disaster Ready?

When disaster strikes, there is a good chance your home is going to sustain some sort of damage. To minimize the effects of the disaster, and to help ensure your safety, there are some things you should be aware of.

  • Find out where your homes emergency shutoffs are located. If a disaster ruptures your waterlines or gas pipes, or damages the power grid in anyway, you may need to shut off these utility services at the source.
  • Do you have a Safe Room? You should have a room in your home that is a dedicated safe zone – an area away from windows that has been structurally fortified to withstand severe weather.
  • Is your emergency gear easily accessible? Things like flashlights, candles and emergency radios should be in a place where you can easily grab them once trouble strikes.

Is your home attack proof?

During times of crisis, criminals usually try to take advantage of the situation. You need to be prepared for the possibility of looters and people who are seeking to do you harm.

  • If you don’t have a firearm, you need to consider purchasing one and learning how to use it.
  • You need to make sure your home is fortified to withstand an attack or home invasion.
  • You need to have a plan in place, and everyone in your family should know what to do should a criminal try to enter your home.

Do you have an emergency kit, and will it last at least two weeks?

Most preparedness experts recommend having 72 hours’ worth of emergency supplies; that number is completely wrong. At minimum you need to have a two-week supply of food, water, medicine, and emergency supplies on hand at all times.

  • When stockpiling water you should store 1 gallon per day, per person in the household. You should also know where all the water sources are around your home.
  • Food supplies for a natural disaster are a little different than those for a long-term disaster, as you want to make sure you have plenty of easy to prepare foods that don’t require a lot of cooking.
  • Make sure you have a fully stocked first-aid kit, and if you have medical problems make sure you have extra medication. Check out our article on how to prepare if you have health problems.

Do you have cash on hand?

Even during small-scale disasters, power outages can affect electronic payment systems — making your debit and credit cards completely useless. You should always have some emergency cash on hand. Should you need last minute supplies, or need to rent a hotel room during a temporary evacuation, having cash could become extremely important.

Do you have a way to generate power?

Most natural disasters can have a destructive effect on the power grid. From temporary power outages, to outages that can last for weeks, or even months as we seen after Hurricane Sandy, you need to be prepared to deal with shutdowns in the grid.

  • How to Choose the Right Emergency Generator for Your Home: Our Generator worksheet will help you determine the right size generator for your situation.
  • The Top Portable Solar Panel Chargers for Disasters: Advances in solar technology have made it possible for everyone to have a small emergency solar backup. These small portable devices can help keep things like cell phones, small tablets, flashlights, emergency radios, ham radios, and GPS devices up and running.
  • Make sure you have a way to cook food. I recommend having some sort of outdoor stove or grill so that you can still cook should your power and gas go out.

Are you Psychologically prepared to deal with emergency situations?

Throughout history people have endured many unthinkable hardships. From the arctic explorers who survived being shipwrecked for years in the brutal conditions of the Antarctic, to those who survived the unthinkable conditions in Nazi Germany, the one thing these survivors all had in common was the will to survive.

To truly be prepared to survive any type of disaster, you need to cultivate a mindset that goes far beyond just having the skills and gear to survive.

  • Surviving Traumatic Events starts with developing the Right Mindset: The will to survive is probably the single most important aspect of surviving a traumatic event.
  • Disaster Related PTSD: How to Recover from Disasters and Traumatic Events: Disasters can have severe mental and physical health consequences, developing the proper coping skills and strategies can help get you through even the toughest situations.
  • Prepping without giving into Fear: While aspects of fear can be helpful during certain situations, if you don’t learn how to how to properly control it, it can be a debilitating killer.

Are your family, friends, and children prepared?

During your planning, it’s important to realize you’re not an island. If you have loved ones who live in your home, or people you take care of on a regular basis, these people need to be on board with your plans. An emergency is not the time to start teaching them what they should or shouldn’t do.

Once you have your plans in place, you need to remember to practice and periodically review your procedures to make sure nothing has changed. Conduct drills; ask your family members if they remember where to meet and what to do, make sure your emergency supplies are up-to-date, and stay on top of anything that might require you to rethink or rework your plans.