The Ultimate Guide To Hurricane Preparedness, Recovery & Relief
With the increase in hurricane occurrences over the last decade, it is crucial to understand the associated risks and mitigation measures that you can take in order to protect yourself, your loved ones and your assets from the damage that hurricanes can cause. This guide has three comprehensive parts and you can skip to any of them by clicking one of the buttons below.
Here are some hurricane facts you should be acquainted with before we get started:
- Storm surges are the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the US.
- Water weighs nearly 1,700 pounds per cubic yard; battering waves from a storm surge can quickly destroy buildings and cause severe destruction along the coast.
- Just 1 inch of water can cause $25,000 worth of damage to your house. Homeowners/renter’s insurance does not usually cover flood damage.
Be proactive! Protect your family and assets against the damage that a hurricane can cause. Although it’s one of the most destructive forces of nature on Earth, there are steps you can take to significantly lessen the devastating impact a hurricane can cause. By adhering to this guide, you’ll be ready before, during and after the storm.
A better understanding of hurricane (tropical cyclone) related hazards will help you understand why hurricanes are so dangerous and what each associated hazard entails.
Some of the major threats related to hurricanes are as follows:
Build your emergency kit step-by-step. Don’t rush or panic. Start by assembling things already at your disposal, and then buy the remaining, necessary items. Pack the basics for each individual or pet in a backpack or portable container. We recommend anything waterproof!
Remember, you’ll need these basic supplies whether you stay indoors in your own home or are forced to evacuate elsewhere. Clothing essentials such as ponchos, rain gear, footwear and reflective attachments are a no brainer.
Food & Water
As for medications, you should have a minimum 7-week supply of your prescribed medication, along with the name and phone number of the doctor who prescribed it.
Make sure your additional supply is kept current and hasn’t expired. You should also keep a list of all your essential medications, dosages (+times), the condition for which you’re taking them, and any other specific instructions with your emergency medication supply.
You should also learn about the appropriate temperatures at which your medications should be kept in advance. (Source)
Lastly, don’t forget to list your sensitivities and allergies, and any cognitive or communication difficulties you or your family members may have so that upon evacuation you can quickly present these to appropriate officials.
First Aid Kit Must Haves
Things To Keep In The Car & Home
Consider keeping the following supplies near or inside your vehicle, so when it is time, you can quickly grab them and start driving. If you plan on staying inside your home to last out the storm, make sure you have the following things inside your home as well.
Preparing Your Family
The most vulnerable groups during hurricane season are typically children, seniors and pets. Due to a multitude of factors they are at the highest risk of injuries and even fatal outcomes so you must do everything in your power to prepare and protect them.
Consult your senior member’s or child’s doctor regarding what’s best for their health and safety in case of an emergency. Create a paper copy of all important contact information, including family and emergency contacts, as well as hospitals, medical providers, pharmacies, and other healthcare services that they may require.
Here is a list of things you should prepare for kids, seniors and pets in your family.
People With Disabilities
Today, there are more than 49 million Americans with disabilities with nearly half having a severe disability that affects their ability to talk, walk, see, or hear.
People with disabilities and their families must approach preparedness planning with a few important considerations. Planning could mean having one-two weeks of prescription medication in a water proof bag or wearing medical tags that outline healthcare needs. It could also mean notifying emergency responders that you have a service animal that will require evacuation.
FEMA works with national disability groups to ensure that emergency shelters and plans are accessible and inclusive. FEMA’s Office created a document labeled Guidance on Planning for Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters to help shelter and emergency planners meet admittance and functional requirements in general population shelters. Click here to learn more about FEMA and its resources about hurricane preparedness for the disabled.
Here is a list of things you should do to prepare if you or your family members have a disability:
National Council Of Disability has released multiple reports outlining the lack of accountability and civic duty shown by evacuation and emergency stuff when it came to helping those with visible mental disabilities. During hurricane Katrina it was widely reported that emergency services showed clear bias towards people with psychiatric disabilities and even labeled them as “collateral damage“. These reports circulated in national media and were covered extensively by big networks like NBC.
Even though progress has been made in terms of decreasing bias towards helping people with mental disabilities during a hurricane, lack of emergency services training on dealing with a variety of mental health issues has shown to be a factor in providing adequate levels of support. Organizations like SAMHSA have invested in helping train emergency and evacuation services in dealing with mental health disabilities but you should still prepare yourself and your loved ones.
Consider the following:
Protecting Your Assets
Ordinary items can not only cause injury but also serious damage to your property and assets during a hurricane. Anything that can move, break, fall or cause a fire is a potential risk. Therefore, you need to make sure your property is safe and insured. Here is a checklist of of things you should do to protect your most valuable assets.
Make copies of your emergency documents and keep them in a waterproof bag. Just think about how stressful it would be after a storm if you didn’t have access to your bank accounts or couldn’t verify your identity. To avoid these situations, secure the following items:
Planning The Evacuation
If you are travelling and at a risk of hurricane exposure, take these quick steps to limit risk factors and increase safety for yourself and your loved ones.
Final Thoughts On Preparedness
It’s not easy to predict how hard a storm will hit your area. However, the only positive thing about hurricanes —as opposed to other natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes, and earthquakes— is that typically warning is given in advance and you do have time to prepare.
Please consider all the preparedness points we’ve outlined above to get yourself and your loved ones ready before a hurricane.
IMPACT MITIGATION & RECOVERY
When a hurricane does strike your area, there are several life-saving actions you can take to protect yourself, your family and your assets.
First of all, evacuate immediately upon notice and drive cautiously according to weather conditions, following designated evacuation routes. If evacuation is not an option, consider avoiding the following actions to limit your exposure to additional risks.
First Aid & Injuries
Make sure you have your first aid kit and an updated list of medications, dosages, and contacts for your doctors, as well as pharmacies. Keep your medications in original containers and place the prescription bottles in a waterproof seal.
Make sure to keep your prescription-drug benefit card or health insurance card with you during the hurricane.
If someone is unconscious or has drowned, it’s crucial to perform CPR right away. Whenever in doubt, consider performing chest compressions as soon as possible.
Other common injuries during hurricanes include:
During a hurricane evacuation, people tend to panic and rush to get out of affected areas, which often leads to accidents. Make sure to have a survival kit inside your vehicle, stay warm and hydrated, and wait for paramedics to arrive.
Flood water can be contaminated or conceal broken glass, rusted metal, and other debris. Use an auto-ready first-aid kit to prevent infections from cuts.
Once a hurricane has made landfall, pools of stagnant water result, which are ideal mosquito breeding grounds. Use mosquito repellents to prevent mosquito-borne diseases.
If someone has a flesh wound consider the following actions:
Now that the storm has passed, you must focus on recovery. The first thing you must address is missing family members and pets.
The American Red Cross has created a website called “Safe and Well” where families can connect following a hurricane, or any other major disaster. It’s a voluntarily-used service which documents your name, phone number, address, and any messages you may want to leave.
Below are tips to help you locate missing family or pets:
Hurricane Damage & Insurance
Regardless of which auto insurance company you pick: GEICO, Progressive, Allstate, and others will provide coverage after a hurricane. Don’t forget to take photos of the damage and wash debris from your car. If it was totaled, contact your insurance company, file a claim, and they will guide you through the process of buying a replacement car.
Several policies cover wind damage, but a lot of them don’t cover water. If you live in a high-risk flood zone, consider discussing flood coverage with your insurance agent. Although private homeowners’ insurance policies usually don’t cover hurricane damage, if a storm damages your roof, and rain gets in proportionately, you may find that the homeowners’ insurance offers some sort of protection if your policy entails coverage for wind.
According to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), people impacted by a hurricane should contact their local health insurance provider for detailed information. You can find the contact information on your health plan member card or insurance provider’s website.
Relocation & Temporary Stays
FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency – provides government sponsored assistance to support people affected by hurricanes (and other major disasters). This is not in lieu of your personal insurance however. Review your insurance policy thoroughly and consult an insurance agent to ensure your policy includes sufficient “loss of use” coverage.
Some legal experts suggest you gather pertinent documents beforehand to expedite the process of securing a temporary stay:
- Credit report
- Social security number
- Financial information
- Damage related information
- Bank information
- Contact information
- Proof of “loss of use” coverage from the insurer
If you’re displaced and must make use of temporary housing, consider saving your receipts for compensation by your insurance company. Where possible, secure approval of any major expenses with your insurance company beforehand.
Final Thoughts On Mitigation & Recovery
Knowing what to do when a hurricane does strike and taking the correct actions before and after the storm can not only help ensure the safety and well being of you and your loved ones, but can also go a long way in helping you recover the property damage that a hurricane can inflict.
Consider applying the outlined strategies during and after the storm if you’re committed to decreasing the impact a hurricane might have on your life.
RELIEF & AID
Collectively, the previous decade of hurricane seasons has been very destructive across parts of the US and the Caribbean. If you’re familiar with the coverage of Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence, you already of the dangers inflicted, including heavy rainfall, catastrophic flooding, and life-threatening storm surges.
As the effects of these devastating storms become more clear, you may feel compelled to help. However, due to the sensitive nature of hurricane relief work, it’s crucial to pre-emptively take stock of your choices and determine effective ways to lend a hand.
We’ve done our research to find the most practical ways you can help communities in the wake of hurricanes and tropical storms. But before we delve into how you can provide assistance to those affected, let’s first discuss ways in which people affected by a hurricane can receive immediate relief.
If your area was affected by a hurricane, you may qualify for relief. Visit www.disasterassistance.gov to determine what sort of federal assistance you can expect, apply for relief, and check your application status. Here are other ways in which you can receive hurricane related relief for your most immediate needs.
Housing & Shelter
Food & Essentials
Most charities and organizations streamline the process of donating on their official websites, making it easy and painless. Choose where you want to donate your money, visit that organization’s website, look for the keyword “donate,” and click to fill out all the required information.
In terms of life-threatening natural disasters, relief-focused donations go straight toward helping the victims. To make sure your donation reaches the affected people and areas directly, look for mentions of the actual hurricane on a charity or organization’s website. Here are some ways for you to donate immediately:
Alternative Ways To Donate
If an area near you was affected by a hurricane and you own a rental property, you can offer housing via Airbnb. If you have an extra bedroom, offering it to someone in need could help tremendously.
Sign up your rental property or home for hurricane relief at Airbnb and fill out all the required information.
Social media is a great way to stay up-to-date on current events, especially when a hurricane takes place. You’ll find hundreds of posts on platforms like Facebook and Twitter highlighting victims’ names and addresses who are seeking help.
Always check your Facebook and Twitter feeds and share/retweet these posts to spread the word.
If you’re willing to offer your time and labor, consider signing up on disaster sites and wait to be registered and contacted. You can do this via Habitat for Humanity, Americorps, etc.
While this type of support can be very helpful, it’s not usually required right after a hurricane strikes. The first priority is moving everyone to a safer location and providing medical assistance to those who need it. When things have settled and the hurricane has passed, volunteers show up and help repair the damage.
Click here to learn how to sign up for volunteer work.
The government usually launches a relief guide highlighting specific supplies which are needed after a big hurricane strikes. These supplies usually include things such as hand sanitizer, bottled water, extension cords, tarps, etc.
When a relief guide is launched, choose what items you want to donate to help the victims.
To find such guides, type the name of the country where the storm hit followed by “govt. relief guide” into Google’s search engine. These supply lists are also available on major organizations. However, don’t send items that aren’t listed on the relief guide.
It comes as no surprise that hurricanes injury many people. Often times hospitalization is required which can rapidly deplete their emergency blood supply. This is where you can really help save the day by contacting the American Red Cross or other similar organizations to donate blood.
On the donation day, consume iron-rich foods like red meat and spinach, drink a lot of water, and dress comfortably. Also, bring a list of your current medications and a photo ID.
Final Thoughts On Relief
This past year, the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian left dozens dead, hundreds missing, and thousands homeless. Many highly-rated organizations came forward to provide aid and relief supplies to families and communities impacted by this disaster.
It’s important for you to be careful with those soliciting money on behalf of a charity. Always identify which organization they’re representing and their level of direct involvement in helping those impacted.
If you’re in need of aid after a hurricane has passed through your area, the steps outlined above should help get you back on track expedite the recovery process.