The most important thing that you can do is to be informed and prepared. Disaster prevention includes both being prepared as well as reducing damages (mitigation).
One of the most important decisions you will have to make is “Should I Evacuate?”
If you are asked to evacuate, you should do so without delay. But unless you live in a coastal or low-lying area, an area that floods frequently, or in manufactured housing, it is unlikely that emergency managers will ask you to evacuate. That means that it is important for you and your family to HAVE A PLAN that makes you as safe as possible in your home.
Disaster prevention includes modifying your home to strengthen it against storms so that you can be as safe as possible. It also includes having the supplies on hand to weather the storm. The suggestions provided here are only guides. You should use common sense in your disaster prevention.
A. FAMILY DISASTER PLAN
- Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
- Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.
- Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet. These should be measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles.
- Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.
- Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
- Check your insurance coverage – flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance.
- Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a Disaster Supply Kit.
- Use a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its battery every 6 months, as you do with your smoke detectors.
10. Take First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes.
B. CREATING A DISASTER SUPPLY KIT
Water: at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
Food: at least enough for 3 to 7 days
- non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
- foods for infants or the elderly
- snack foods
- non-electric can opener
- cooking tools / fuel
- paper plates / plastic utensils
Blankets / Pillows, etc.
Clothing: seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
Special Items: for babies and the elderly
Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes
Flashlight / Batteries
Radio: Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
Telephones: Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards: Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
Toys, Books and Games
Important documents: in a waterproof container or watertight resalable plastic bag
— insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
Tools: keep a set with you during the storm
Vehicle fuel tanks filled
Pet care items
- proper identification / immunization records / medications
- ample supply of food and water
- a carrier or cage
- muzzle and leash
C. HAVING A PLACE TO GO
Develop a family hurricane preparedness plan before an actual storm threatens your area. If your family hurricane preparedness plan includes evacuation to a safer location for any of the reasons specified with in this web site, then it is important to consider the following points:
If ordered to evacuate, do not wait or delay your departure.
If possible, leave before local officials issue an evacuation order for your area. Even a slight delay in starting your evacuation will result in significantly longer travel times as traffic congestion worsens.
Select an evacuation destination that is nearest to your home, preferably in the same county, or at least minimize the distance over which you must travel in order to reach your intended shelter location.
In choosing your destination, keep in mind that the hotels and other sheltering options in most inland metropolitan areas are likely to be filled very quickly in a large, multi-county hurricane evacuation event.
If you decide to evacuate to another county or region, be prepared to wait in traffic.
The large number of people in this state who must evacuate during a hurricane will probably cause massive delays and major congestion along most designated evacuation routes; the larger the storm, the greater the probability of traffic jams and extended travel times.
If possible, make arrangements to stay with the friend or relative who resides closest to your home and who will not have to evacuate. Discuss with your intended host the details of your family evacuation plan well before the beginning of the hurricane season.
If a hotel or motel is your final intended destination during an evacuation, make reservations before you leave.
Most hotel and motels will fill quickly once evacuations begin. The longer you wait to make reservations, even if an official evacuation order has not been issued for your area or county, the less likely you are to find hotel/motel room vacancies, especially along interstate highways and in major metropolitan areas.
If you are unable to stay with friends or family and no hotels/motels rooms are available, then as a last resort go to a shelter.
Remember, shelters are not designed for comfort and do not usually accept pets. Bring your disaster supply kit with you to the shelter. Find Pet-Friendly hotels and motels.
Make sure that you fill up your car with gas, before you leave.
D. RETROFITTING YOUR HOME
The most important precaution you can take to reduce damage to your home and property is to protect the areas where wind can enter. According to recent wind technology research, it's important to strengthen the exterior of your house so wind and debris do not tear large openings in it. You can do this by protecting and reinforcing these four critical areas:
- ROOF: ANCHOR YOUR ROOF
If your roof was built before 1994 and is gabled, brace all gable-end framing with horizontal and vertical beams. Also, make sure that there is wood sheathing (planks or plywood) behind the stucco of the triangular gable-end walls. Using a caulking gun, apply a 1/4 inch bead of APA AFG-01 certified wood adhesive along an intersection of the roof deck and roof support element (rafter or truss chord) on both sides of the beam. This technique can increase the wind uplift resistance by up to three times, but should not be used if you are going to re-roof in the near future.
- STRAPS: ROOF TO TOP OF WALL CONNECTION
Metal hurricane straps or clips provide the proper measure of strength and safety for the roof-to-wall connection. The common practice of toe nailing the trusses or rafters often is not sufficient to hold a roof in place in high winds. These clips or straps are usually very difficult to see from the attic because of insulation. Areas where the roof framing meets the top of stud walls are normally covered by dry wall on the inside and by wall cladding and soffit board on the outside. To install hurricane straps and clips, remove the roof sheathing around the perimeter of the roof to reveal the top of the wall. You may also need to remove the soffit and exterior cladding to reveal the top 12 to 18 inches of the wall. In addition, if the exterior cladding is brick veneer, you may need to remove small sections of brick as needed. If your roof has trusses, make sure you tie them to the wall by either anchoring to the top plate and then the top plate to the wall stud, or strapping the truss directly to the wall stud.
- SHUTTERS AND WINDOWS
- DOORS AND GARAGE DOORS
Entry doors are easily damaged by high winds. Bolt all doors with foot and head bolts with a minimum one-inch bolt throw length. Garage doors should be able to withstand hurricane wind loads and the impacts of flying debris. If yours does not, replace with a hurricane resistant one. Approximately 80 percent of residential hurricane wind damage starts with wind entry through garage doors.
A great time to start securing – or retrofitting – your house is when you are making other improvements or adding an addition.
Remember: building codes reflect the lessons experts have learned from past catastrophes. Contact the local building code official to find out what requirements are necessary for your home improvement projects.
The National Flood Insurance Program, is a pre-disaster flood mitigation and insurance protection program designed to reduce the escalating cost of disasters. The National Flood Insurance Program makes federally backed flood insurance available to residents and business owners
Flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance. Do not make assumptions. Check your policy.
National Flood Insurance Program call:
1-888-CALL-FLOOD ext. 445, TDD# 1-800-427-5593.
E. HAVING A PET PLAN
Contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency.
BEFORE THE DISASTER
- Make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.
- Have a current photograph
- Keep a collar with identification on your pet and have a leash on hand to control your pet.
- Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal – carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
- Plan your evacuation strategy and don't forget your pet! Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm's way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.
If you plan to shelter your pet – work it into your evacuation route planning.
DURING THE DISASTER
- Animals brought to a pet shelter are required to have: Proper identification collar and rabies tag, proper identification on all belongings, a carrier or cage, a leash, an ample supply of food, water and food bowls, any necessary medications, specific care instructions and news papers or trash bags for clean-up.
- Bring pets indoor well in advance of a storm – reassure them and remain calm.
- Pet shelters will be filled on first come, first served basis. Call ahead and determine availability.
AFTER THE DISASTER
- Walk pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home – often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
- If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
- After a disaster, animals can become aggressive or defensive – monitor their behavior.
Don't forget your pet when preparing a family disaster plan.
PET DISASTER SUPPLY KIT
- Proper identification including immunization records
- Ample supply of food and water
- A carrier or cage
- Muzzle, collar and leash