The 2018 hurricane season starts today and runs through November 30th. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, NOAA, forecast for 2018 hedged their bets with a 25% chance of us have a below normal season, a 40% chance of a near normal season, and a 35% chance of us having an above normal season. This works out to a 70% possibility we’ll experience 10 to 16 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher, of which 5 to 9 could reach hurricane status with sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. Of those reaching hurricane strength, NOAA predicts there will be 1 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher).
If the forecasters are correct and one of these hurricanes makes landfall, the damage will be severe. Let’s examine basic preparations you can make if you live along the Gulf or Atlantic coasts.
Buy & Organize Now: Below is a list of items you can purchase now at Home Depot or the local grocery store before there’s a panicked run on them.
- Secure 3 to 5 gallons of water per day for each person in your family and store in a cool dry place.
- Buy enough non-perishable food to feed your family for 3 to 5 days including dry beans, pasta, rice, and canned goods. Add packaged tuna, salmon, and chicken that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
- Consider buying a camping stove and fuel so you’ll be able to cook your food if the power goes out.
- Purchase flashlights and extra batteries to last 3 to 5 days.
- Have sleeping bags, air mattresses, or extra blankets and sheets.
- Water purification supplies such as iodine tablets, a steri pen or water filtration system can be purchased from a sporting goods supply store.
- Create a list of everyone’s medications and make photo copies of prescriptions so it can be refilled. Keep a list of any special medical needs a family member may have.
- Have extra baby food, formula, diapers, wipes, and additional supplies ready.
- Buy disposable cleaning wipes (baby wipes) for the entire family. They work in place of a shower.
- Buy extra toiletries and personal hygiene items you may need.
- Prepare an emergency kit for your car including flares, booster cables, maps (cell service may be out), tools, a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.
- Buy masking tape, nails, screws and sheets of plywood to cover large windows if you don’t have storm shutters. This helps prevent wind and water damage caused by breaking windows and the tape protects against flying glass.
- Buy a hand crank powered emergency radio.
Assemble these items and store centrally in a place you can easily access. They need to be available if you’re unable to evacuate and will be invaluable if you must leave quickly.
Important Documents: Create a grab and go box for your important documents. This should be a waterproof box of items to streamline filing claims, getting resettled, reconnected, and having life get back to normal. Originals are better left in a safety deposit box in your bank.
- Passports, social security cards, green cards, driver’s license, etc. (photo copy both sides) which can be notarized at your local bank (usually free of charge).
- Copies of insurance policies for home, auto, life, medical (flood and wind too if these apply).
- Copies of any legal case papers.
- Retirement and investment account numbers along with a copy of your last statement.
- Copies of bill statements for all credit cards along with account numbers and contact information.
- Last year’s tax return.
- A recent back up to a thumb drive of your computer / laptop (look into Dropbox, iCloud, or other similar services).
- $150 to $200 in cash for food, gas, etc.
- Written phone contact list (physicians, family, friends, work, etc.).
Map Your Route: Do you know where you’d go if you were ordered to evacuate? This is a great time to decide and plan for that.
- Take the time to map out your destination and evacuation route.
- I’d also suggest planning two alternative destinations and routes (Google Hurricane Rita evacuation and you’ll understand).
Getting these items purchased and organized before a storm is announced for your area will save you time, keep you from fighting for them when everyone else is panicking and the shelves are bare. It also means you’ll be able to move quickly if you need to evacuate. Even for those of us who don’t live in coastal areas, this exercise is helpful in the event of tornados, earthquakes, and wild fires.
What do you think? Share your suggestions, questions, comments, and experiences with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!