Earlier this week, Hurricane Harvey swept in as a Category 4 hurricane. Making landfall in Corpus Christi, Texas, it swept along Texas’ Gulf Coast leaving flooding and destruction in its path. The National Weather Service even tweeted that this storm was “unprecedented” and “beyond anything experienced.”
This is likely not the first storm we’ll face in the U.S., and it definitely won’t be the last instance of flooding. In these instances, the best thing to be is prepared. Below we’ve listed out a few tips on prepping for emergencies.
Designate a Safety Zone
Whether it’s a tornado, hurricane, or anticipated flooding, you’ll want to designate your meeting spot ahead of time. This is particularly relevant if you have a family, as they will all need to know where to head when a storm hits.
Recommended shelters will vary depending on the storm – you’ll want to keep track of recommendations from local officials and weather experts via the radio, TV, or even following them on social media.
Here’s a quick list of typical safety zones for different storms and natural disasters – however, always defer to the recommendations of government officials and emergency personnel:
- Tornado: Try to head to the basement or storm shelter. If you are in a building with no basement, go to a small center room in the lowest portion of the building and avoid windows.
- Hurricane: Similar to a tornado, it’s recommended to shelter in a basement away from windows, or in a center room away from windows.
- Earthquake: If you are in the house, sheltering under a table or other sturdy piece of furniture is best in order to protect yourself from falling debris.
- Flooding: The best action when heavy flooding is imminent is to evacuate and seek higher ground. Do not enter flooded areas or moving water either on foot or in your vehicle at any point.
- Fire: Again, the safest action to take is evacuation.
Build Your Prep Kit
An emergency kit is an essential supply to have on hand. Store it in your designated safety spot, and keep it stocked with essential items. This way, you’ll be prepped for either spending a significant time in your safety spot or you’ll have a grab-and-go bag in the event you need to leave quickly.
Ready.gov offers a full checklist of recommended items on their website, but here are some highlights:
- Bottled water or gallon jugs – Ready.gov recommends one gallon per person, per day, for up to three days.
- Non-perishable food – include a can opener if you stock up with canned food.
- Flashlight and batteries.
- First Aid Kit.
- A battery-powered or hand-crank radio.
- Backup cell phone chargers (include a backup battery, as well as a backup battery-powered charger).
- A change of clothes & blankets.
Ready.gov also recommends keeping versions of this prep kit in your car (in case an emergency happens on the go) as well as your workplace (particularly if you live in a storm-prone area).
Protect Your Pets
Make sure you have a plan in place for your pets in the event of a storm! You don’t want to be caught at the last second scrambling for supplies as you’re running out the door. Here are a few tips from PetMD:
- Create a “pet emergency kit,” especially if you live in a storm-prone area or are expecting severe weather. You’ll want to include things like food, bottled water, any medications, your proof of ownership stored in an airtight & waterproof bag, as well as ID tags, leashes, and a crate.
- Keep pets secured at all times when traveling – dogs and cats should be on leashes or crated to prevent escapees and protect them from debris.
- Keep a list of pet-friendly hotel chains, camping grounds, and more and place this in either your pet emergency kit or your own personal emergency bag. Not all hotels will allow pets, and you’ll want to make sure your fur babies can stay with you if you’re forced to evacuate.
Even if you think everything is covered under your homeowner’s insurance, make sure to check! You might be surprised at what’s covered and what’s not, and you don’t want that shock to happen once the disaster has already happened.
Here are some disasters that are not covered under homeowner’s insurance according to the Insurance Information Institute:
- Nuclear accident
For these, you’ll want to talk to your insurance provider about disaster insurance options and how you can add those to your current plan.
Heed the Warnings
And if local officials urge you to evacuate? Do it. This isn’t the time to try and ride out a storm on your own.
If you’d like to donate to those affected by Hurricane Harvey, please scroll to the bottom of this article for a helpful guide to charities helping in the wake of this tragedy.