During the 2006 Hurricane season the Southeastern U.S held its breath as they watched storm after storm build and disintegrate causing minimal damage comparatively to the 2005 season. (You can see the entire season here on Wikipedia). It was during 2006 Hurricane Season that the people living along the Gulf Coast were the most prepared. Now that the Atlantic Hurricane season is upon us again I felt there are eleven essential tasks you should perform well in advance of being effected by a major storm passing through your area.
1. First things first get on the phone and call your local EMA director. You will need a list of storm shelters in your area. If your EMA Director is busy or seems like they don’t have the time, contact your local Red Cross they should have the listings of certified shelters in your area after all they are the ones that certify shelters in the first place.
2. Next make a copy of all your important documents, i.e. medical records, prescriptions, credit cards, driver’s license, insurance papers and then either MAIL them to a trusted family member or place them in a safe deposit box.
3. You should have a detailed waterproof map of your neighborhood, county and state. You should have at least 3 alternate evacuation routes before storm landfall and three alternate return routes after the storm passes. Now if you want to be really thorough, pen in all the gas stations, storm shelters, fire stations and hospitals on all three routes.
4. Everyone in your evacuating family should have a 3 day bag. This bag should be packed and set aside with only the essentials to evacuate such as: Change of clothes for three days, sanitary items, small hand held games, books, telephone calling card (because cell towers can topple in high wind and cell phones die) and prescription medications, (Hot curlers, Plasma televisions, electric cookware, desk top computers are not essential items as I saw during Katrina.)
5. Purchase a pallet of bottled water.
6. Invest in a generator, a heavy chain, and strong padlock. Now the exhaust from a generator will KILL (notice I said WILL) you and your entire family if used indoors. Make sure your generator is outside of the building while running. Now would be the time to figure out a way to chain it to the ground preventing the generator from being stolen. (Yes there are thieves after storms).
7. Purchase a large cooler with wheels to store large amounts of ice.
8. Invest in a battery operated weather radio(with spare batteries), flash lights (at least two), tea light candles, calumet light sticks, aluminum foil, synthetic rope, matches and for heavens sake Duct Tape at least 4 rolls. Don’t be fooled by purchasing these items through super rescue magazines or so called, “Experts” Your local dollar store has most of these supplies.
9. You should have a 10 gallon gas tank with a strong tight cap and a funnel. (During Hurricane Katrina people were burning themselves by not having a funnel trying to fill their cars and generators)
10. You should stock up on essential canned foods, and military styled meals ready to eat enough for at least three days. This way when you find out the storm is headed your way at least a three day head start on everyone else.
11. If your local EMA, Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS all scream in unison, "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE"! DO IT! They possess information you aren’t privy to. Call them on it later if they were wrong. If you decide to stay and “ride out” the storm make sure you have written on a waterproof card in indelible ink your name, date of birth and social security number it. Place this card in your pocket so there will be no problem identifying your body if you become a storm casualty.
After years of rescuing people after horrendous storms and participating in the recovery I felt this was the best way to get the message out.