While Danny has barely crossed over the Lesser Antillies, it would still be wise to get ready for the height of hurricane season. Usually between the months of August and November is when we start to see the big storms develop and head our way. With Danny being the first named Hurricane of the 2015 season, it would be wise to start preparing immediately for the rest of the storms to follow. Fear not Chesmarians, as we have a great, easy-to-read list of the items and procedures you need to follow to keep you, your family and your new Chesmar Home safe!
Your general preparedness should include having your vehicle’s gas tank above 1/2 full through the season. You may think, “oh well I’ll worry about that when the storms get close.” Wrong. Remember Hurricane Ike? Gas stations throughout the city of Houston and along the evacuation routes as far north as Huntsville, TX were sold out for days, even before landfall occurred. Stay prepared people. Also, give your generators a monthly test just to make sure they are working correctly. You might also want to consider purchasing flood insurance; you never know. Always keep cash on hand in $20 bills and smaller. When the power goes out, credit cards become little more than plastic squares. You should always keep a battery-powered AM radio in the house to stay connected. When the power is out, so is your WiFi and this simple WWII-era tech can be your only lifeline to the outside world.
When the storm is on it’s way to make landfall in your area, you should get ready to tape and board your windows up. Simple sheets of plywood and nails are all that you’ll need. Trimming your trees and shrubs of dead branches can help minimize the damage to your home when the high winds hit. For your valuables, it’s always a great idea to take inventory, and maybe even some pictures of, your valuables like jewelry, electronics, appliances, and furniture. Should the worst happen to your home, an inventory list, especially pictures, will go a long way into helping out your insurance claims.
Outside on the patio, you need to tie-down your furniture, grills, potted plants and any other freestanding items. When winds pick up and your things aren’t properly secured, they can end up blowing all over the place causing damage. If you have propane tanks, turn them off. Young trees should be tied down with twine and stakes to prevent uprooting. You can find those at your local gardening or home improvement stores. All important documents (birth certificates, deeds, titles) should be stored in a waterproof, safe container. Another absolute necessity is to always, always have a fire extinguisher handy.
The Evacuation Plan
If it looks like the storm will be bearing down directly on top of you and an evacuation order has been issued by the local government, you need to have a game plan ready. Start by mapping out a destination. Call your extended family and let them know where you are going to be heading so that someone can monitor your whereabouts. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a backup evacuation location either. Take all of your important documents with you and top off your gas tank before hitting the road because traffic is going to be horrible during evacuations. Be sure to pack plenty of provisions for your car trip. Lots of water and highly concentrated nutritious foods like granola/protein bars, nuts, hard cheeses and plenty of bottled water.
Sticking It Out
Be sure to board up and/or tape up your windows. Stock up on things like batteries, bottled water, non-perishable canned food items, and fill up your bathub(s) with as much much as they can hold. If, in the tragic instance the water supply is cutoff, you need to have access to this water supply for things like washing dishes, flushing the toilet, laundry, etc. Also have your battery-powered AM radio tuned into AM 740 KTRH for disaster updates and information on the storm’s activity. If your generators run on gasoline, keep extra storage containers in a safe location.
During the storm, stay indoors no matter what. Even if the storm seems like it has passed, it could just mean that the eye of the storm is passing over you. After the eye passes, things get much worse and you don’t want to be caught outside. Keep your curtains and blinds closed, close all interior doors and turn the freezer and refrigerators to their coldest settings and keep them closed unless absolutely necessary. Cell phones should only be used in case of absolute necessity for several reasons. The first is to just keep the signal networks open for emergency management to respond to the hardest hit areas. Another reason being to preserve the length of your battery’s charge for as long as possible.
After The Storm
Make sure your fire extinguisher is at the ready in case of any kind of fire. Watch out for things like broken glass, loose-hanging tree limbs and never, ever go swimming in flood waters. Before checking you home’s exterior for damage, make absolute sure that the storm has passed before going outside. What you need to check for is damage to your home’s roof, foundation and chimney. It is avisable to NOT climb latters onto the roof just yet, as you run the risk of getting struck by lightning. If you smell gas, leave your house immediately and contact your local gas utility company. Have a few battery-powered flashlights on hand for after the sun sets.
Don’t use your damaged electrical appliances until after they have checked by a professional. Check in with your local authorities before you start using tap or well water as it could be contaminated. Until your water has been deemed safe by authorities, boil it for 1 minute before drinking, or using it to wash clothes, dishes, etc. Try to avoid using toilets if you can until you have checked your sewer lines for any damage. Make sure your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors are functioning properly, throw away any spoiled food items, food that has come into contact with flood waters and if there is any damage, start your insurance claims.