As of press time, hurricane “Dorian” was still hundreds of miles away from affecting the region with substantial rain and wind. However, the National Weather Service still reports that Tri-Town communities are within the “cone of uncertainty” for weather caused by the proximity of category 1 Hurricane Dorian Friday morning through Saturday as it makes a relatively close pass off the coast Cape Cod and the Southcoast.
Dorian, with his still uncertain effects on the Tri-Town expected later this week, is ushering us into September, “National Preparedness Month”, when residents are urged to “be disaster aware and take action to prepare.”
The theme of this year’s preparedness campaign is “Prepared, not scared.” But what exactly does it mean to be prepared, and how would you rate your household’s readiness for a natural disaster such as a major hurricane or tornado in your neighborhood? Would your family know what to do if a natural disaster strikes while your child is at school or at a friend’s house, you are at work, the cell phone towers are down, and you can’t communicate? Would your children know what to do if they are home alone when disaster strikes? Does your family have a plan in the event of an emergency, whether if together at home or separated by distance?
There are four questions that are better answered before disaster strikes: How will I receive emergency warnings and alerts? What is my shelter plan? What is my evacuation route? And, what is my family/household communication plan? “I don’t know” is the worst answer in the middle of a crisis. Planning for a disaster today beneath blue skies and thinking about how to respond before the time comes will protect you and your family during that critical moment when minutes can save lives.
Sometimes a storm like a blizzard or hurricane gives us days to take steps to prepare, such as filling the vehicle with gas, withdrawing extra cash from the bank or ATM, filling prescriptions, and filling plastic bags with water and storing them in the freezer. But for disasters that happen without warning, there are some things the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants you to consider keeping somewhere safe in your house in the event of a disaster that, at some point, your family will likely experience to some degree.
Nonperishable food and water: A three-day supply of canned foods, peanut butter, and other foods that do not require refrigeration with at least a gallon of water per person per day is the minimal recommendation, but infants and babies will need a three-day supply of formula, as well. And if you have pets, a three-day supply of food and water is recommended for them, as well. Don’t forget to keep a manual can-opener stored with your emergency food stash along with some utensils and anything else you would need to prepare and eat your food.
Prescriptions and First-Aid: If you’ve ever left for your week-long vacation and forgot to pack your prescription, then you know what it’s like to have to manage without them for several days. For those with pain management, mental health issues, or serious health issues requiring life-sustaining medications such as insulin, safely storing a month’s supply of non-expired prescriptions is essential. So is a first aid kit that is waterproof, stocked with the bare essentials such as triangular bandages, rolled gauze, and antibacterial ointment, and easily visible (brightly colored) and accessible if caught off guard by a disaster.
Emergency contact information: If you need to use a landline in the event that your cellphone does not work or the battery has died, you might not to be able to access those phone numbers you have stored so keep a list of important numbers safely stored. A portable hand-crank radio could also keep you connected to the latest emergency information for your area should the likely event that Internet services are also down.
Other essentials: Keep an extra flashlight and batteries in your emergency preparedness kit. Know where your gas shutoff valve is located and have the tools you need stored nearby. Know where your electrical circuit box is, and remember to shut off each individual circuit before shutting off the main circuit. Know how to shut off the main water valve to your house because shutting it down immediately can keep cracked lines from polluting the water supply to your house. Keep your important documents such as passports and vital birth records in a weatherproof box in a safe location. Upload other important documents to a thumb drive and keep this stored inside, too. Make sure you have insurance and know what is covered under your policy.
“The best defense for an emergency is being properly prepared,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders in a September 3 press release.“As we recognize Emergency Preparedness Month, we encourage individuals now and every day to take proactive steps to safeguard their future health should a disaster occur.”
For tips and tools to assist you in effective emergency preparedness, go directly to ready.gov where you will find all the information you need for peace of mind when disaster does strike.
*This article will be updated online at our website Wanderer.com as information about Dorian’s trajectory evolves.