If you’ve lived in Virginia for a while, you know we’re currently in the heart of hurricane season. Some of the worst storms on record have happened shortly before or after Labor Day. In central Virginia we usually don’t get much more than heavy rain from nearby hurricanes, but there are exceptions. Most of us remember Hurricane Isabelle in 2003 and the property damage and power outages she brought with her. It’s important to prepare for hurricanes before they’re at your doorstep, when it might already be too late. Get hurricane ready with these safety tips.
1. Put Together an Emergency Kit
In hurricane conditions you may need to leave your home quickly or be prepared to wait it out. Gather essential items and store them in an easily accessible location so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute. Here are some things you should consider including in your kit.
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Candles and matches stored in a watertight container
- Enough water and nonperishable food to last three days
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio
- First aid kit
- A three-day supply of any prescription medications
- A change of clothes for each member of your family
- Important documents such as identification and insurance policies stored in a watertight container
Your kit may not include all of these things, and there are many other things you might want to have on hand. Put together an emergency kit that works for your family’s needs.
2. Know How to Get In Contact
It’s very likely that wireless service will be disrupted during a hurricane due to the high volume of calls, damage to cell towers, or both. If you’re separated from your family in an emergency, you should have a plan for getting in contact.
- Try to text if you can’t get a call to connect. Texts can make it through a crowded network much more easily.
- Choose an emergency contact who lives outside your area. If you can’t get in touch with each other, contact this person to coordinate. Make sure all members of the family have the emergency contact’s number memorized.
- Have a landline. Home phones are out of fashion these days, especially the kind that plug into the wall. But a landline is the only phone that will still work when the power goes out and doesn’t need to be charged.
- Check with your children’s schools or day care to make sure you know their emergency policies.
3. Protect Your Home
There are a lot of factors that affect the risk to your home during hurricanes. Do your research and take the appropriate precautions for your location.
- Know your home’s elevation and the risk of flooding in your area. Consider purchasing flood insurance since most homeowner’s policies don’t include coverage for flooding.
- Cover your windows. If hurricanes are a common occurrence where you live, you may want to invest in storm shutters. Otherwise be prepared to board your windows in the event of a storm.
- Help prevent structural damage by reinforcing garage doors and roofs. Be prepared to bring any outdoor furniture or other unsecured items inside.
- Decide where you will go if you need to evacuate, and plan how to get there. Learn about evacuation routes in your area so you can plan the best route.
You hope that you will never need to use your emergency precautions, but you will be glad you prepared if the time does come.