Preparing for a Hurricane If You Have to Evacuate

By Stephanie, June 25, 2012, Hurricane Prep, News

People who live in an area prone to hurricanes know when they are most likely to appear. This is especially true for those of us who live on the Gulf Coast, since we’ve had several bad hurricanes hit our region in the past decade. Then again, since we know when they’re most prone to hit, it should be easy to prepare your home ahead of time in case the need to evacuate arises. Preparing for a hurricane while the weather is sunny and calm is much easier than trying to react frantically while the doors of your house are being blown off by the winds!

Advanced Preparation

One of the most important things to do is to create a family plan so that everyone knows what to do in a hurricane situation. Talk with everyone in the family about what actions to take when different things happen – for instance, when the sirens go off or the power goes out. Discuss when and where to take shelter inside the house, as in a basement or storm shelter, and when to prepare to evacuate.

Delegate tasks to each family member, especially the children, so they will have an active part in the plan. Have someone get the hurricane preparedness kit, while someone else checks the flashlights or gets the candles, and someone else puts the pets in their carriers or kennels. When the responsibilities are divided among the family, each person feels responsible to the whole group for getting their tasks done. This plan is something that may start small but evolve as you review it over and over.

A key step in hurricane preparedness is getting together an emergency kit. The most important item will be bottled water, then enough food for three to seven days. Flashlights, candles, matches, a battery-powered radio, blankets, pet items, credit cards, and cash are all starting items to keep in the kit. Get the kit out and review its contents every 3 months to add or replace items. This is a good time to review and update the family plan with everyone, too.

The next important step is to prepare for an evacuation, should that be required. There are certain things that can be included in the family plan ahead of time; other actions should be taken when a hurricane warning has been announced.

The most challenging kind of kit to create is reserved for a worst-case scenario. Specifically, this is a box full of those items you would need in order to reconstruct your life elsewhere should the hurricane damage to your home be severe. This box should include copies of wedding certificates and photos, birth certificates and photos, insurance policies, passports, car titles, and mortgage information, as these are all items that would be difficult to replace after a catastrophe. Wherever possible, make copies or scan the documents to be added to this box, or you could even store the originals directly. In short, make sure all of these documents are in a secure place where they can be grabbed on the way to the car when you have to evacuate. It will be a lot of work, but you will be grateful that you put the effort into the task.

As a Hurricane Approaches

Know where you are going to go. A hotel, shelter, or relative’s house are all options. Make sure that your map in the emergency kit shows the route to the evacuation location, though it helps to indicate two routes, in case one is blocked by trees blown over, downed power lines, etc. Include all of the contact information such as names, addresses, and phone numbers. Get in touch with friends or relatives and tell them that you will call them if you have to evacuate so someone knows why you’re not answering your home phone!

Follow local instructions for securing the house by boarding up windows and doors. It’s best if you do this days before leaving so you’ll have some time to prepare for this and will have access to supplies at hardware stores before everyone else rushes to get this step done.

Keep directions in your emergency kit on how to prepare the house to leave. Turn off the power, gas, and water to the house, if you can. Remove any items that could fall and break from shelving and place them on the floor. Take any small items of value, such as jewelry and cameras, because looting, sadly, does happen from time to time.

Plan for being away from your home from three to five days depending on the kind of storm cell that is moving through the area. Have contact information available with you to call local authorities to check on when it is safe to return.

In General

Being prepared for a hurricane and a possible evacuation takes some time and thought. You and your family will be so grateful having this done when the winds are building outside your front door! If the experts say it’s safe enough to stay home and you can avoid an evacuation, check out this post for tips on preparing for a hurricane if you stay at home.

Bounce Energy can also you  stay informed about this year’s hurricane threats through our Hurricane Prep Center as well as Facebook, Twitter, and alerts to your smart phone. Download our Hurricane Preparedness Guide for more tips and keep an eye on our Hurricane Tracking Map that will be updated with up to the minute hurricane information.

(Photo by thepipe26)

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