Hurricane Preparedness (cont.)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- Hurricane definition and facts
- How do hurricanes form?
- How are hurricanes categorized?
- How dangerous are hurricanes?
- What is the National Hurricane Center's role?
- How are hurricanes named and tracked?
- How do you prepare for a hurricane?
- Have a family plan for a hurricane
- What supplies do I need for a hurricane supply kit?
- Where can I go to be safe during a hurricane?
- How do I secure my home during a hurricane?
- What about my pets during a hurricane?
- What to do after a hurricane (hurricane aftermath health concerns)
- How can I make sure our water is safe?
- How do I perform first aid for injuries?
- What can I do to cope with mental stress after a hurricane?
- How can I prevent injuries after a hurricane?
- How do I deal with wild and domestic animals in a disaster?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What supplies do I need for a hurricane supply kit?
A hurricane supply kit should be prepared in advance of the storm season, should be easily accessible in case you need to evacuate, and should contain items you will need to ride out a storm, no matter where you are.
The National Hurricane Center suggests the following:
- Water: at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
- Food: for 3 to 7 days. Include non-perishable items, food for infants
- Blankets and pillows
- First Aid Kit
- Prescription drugs: (enough for at least one to two weeks)
- Toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, etc.)
- Flashlight, radio, fresh batteries
- Telephones: Fully charge cell phones before the storm in case of power outage, with an extra battery if you have one
- Cash (including small bills) and credit cards: Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods of time after the storm
- Keys to the home, vehicles, sheds
- Toys, books, and games for children to keep them occupied
- Important documents in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
- Tools: keep a set of tools with you during the storm
- Vehicle fuel tanks filled
- Pet care items (see list in this article)
Where can I go to be safe during a hurricane?
Part of your hurricane preparedness plan should include where to go in the event you need to evacuate your home. Follow instructions of local authorities and evacuate if required. If possible, leave the area before officials issue an order to evacuate, to avoid traffic delays. Ideally, safe places are out of the storm's predicted path, in a structure certified safe against hurricane-force winds (in case the storm path shifts), and are not susceptible to the high tides and storm surges associated with hurricanes; the structure should have emergency food, water, and a backup power source available.
Make sure your vehicle's gas tank is filled beforehand as traffic jams are common, and in the past people have abandoned their vehicles because they ran out of gas and no available gas stations were open for business.
If you plan to stay in a hotel (see above requirements for safe places to stay), keep in mind those closest to your area may fill up quickly. Book ahead and leave early, before the storm begins or before the hotel assigns the booking to someone else because you were late for check-in.
If you plan to stay with friends or family, discuss plans ahead of time, before hurricane season starts.
As a last resort, go to a hurricane shelter. Remember, shelters will be crowded and are not designed for comfort. Bring your disaster kit supplies with you. Most shelters do not accept pets.
During a storm, it is never safe to leave a protective shelter because of the high probability of being hit by flying debris or being knocked off your feet by winds or water surges; continue to listen to the emergency radio broadcasts as they will indicate when it is safe to go outside. Although venturing outside is tempting if the storm's "eye" or center passes over (the eye contains much calmer wind conditions), the storm's furious conditions can be back in a matter of minutes as the eye moves away from your location and you could be cut off from returning to your shelter.
How do I secure my home during a hurricane?
The best thing you can do to reduce damage to home and property is to protect areas where wind can enter. If you have hurricane shutters, install them before the storm. Never go outside during a storm to put up shutters.
Reinforce roofs, straps, shutters, doors, and garage doors. If possible, you can reinforce these areas when doing other home improvement or renovation. Check local building codes. For more information on retrofitting your home, visit The National Hurricane Center.
Flood damage is usually not covered by homeowners insurance in some areas. Check with your homeowner policy's agent to find out if you have flood insurance coverage. Flood insurance usually has to be purchased far in advance of any impending storms. For more information on the National Flood Insurance Program call 1-888-CALL-FLOOD ext. 445, TDD# 1-800-427-5593.
What about my pets during a hurricane?
Plans need to be made for the entire family prior to a hurricane, and that includes pets. If you must evacuate, plan to take your pets with you. Your pet should wear an ID tag with your current contact information. Make sure you have a cell phone and even an out-of-town contact listed in case you are not reachable and you become separated from your animals.
- Friends and family outside the area are usually the easiest places to bring pets.
- Most hotels do not accept pets, so research ahead of time for pet-friendly locations in the event you need to evacuate.
- Most shelters also do not accept pets, and those that do usually require pre-registration. Know in advance where your local pet-friendly shelters are and how you can register ahead of time if needed.
Just as you need a hurricane kit for your human family, you should also have one for your pets. Your pet's kit should include:
- Food, water, and medications for the pets for 3 – 5 days
- Leashes, harnesses, collars
- Cat litter and litter boxes
- Plastic bags and newspaper
- Crates (it is a good idea to crate-train your animals prior to a storm – during a storm they may need to be crated for hours at a time, and pet-friendly shelters require it).
- Pet beds and toys if there is space
- Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help identify them if you become separated
- Information on feeding, medications, behavior, and your veterinarian's contact information in case you need to board your animal(s)
For more information on preparing for a storm and keeping your pets safe, visit the Humane Society of the United States.
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