Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kayla Jo Finley, Defense Media Activity
June 1st marks the date of the season I would dread the most, hurricane season. In my earlier years, a hurricane or tropical storm meant days off of work, everything closed and an excuse to gather with my closest friends at one place to ride out the storm. For the most part, it was a fun sociable way to enjoy Mother Nature at her finest.
All the aspects of hurricanes that I once enjoyed changed fast once I had children. The thought of a hurricane caused much stress and worry when it came to ensuring the safety of my family. Before, I was never too worried about not being prepared for the outcome of the storm, but with children, it was not an option to not be prepared.
During my last years living in an area prone for hurricanes I dealt with pregnancy and caring for infants during several hurricane threats. Being that my husband was on a ship and ships usually leave during hurricanes, I also had to be prepared to deal with the storm by myself.
It took a lot of trial and error to figure out the best way to deal with hurricanes, but over time it became easier and less stressful. I am by no means a “doomsday prepper,” but with my experience, I feel I can now handle hurricane season much better than before. Here are some tips that may help you and your family.
State of Mind: When you begin the process of prepping, always think, “what if?” You never know what may happen, so it is was better to be safe than sorry. Here are some “what ifs” to think of:
-What if I have to evacuate?
-What if my house floods?
-What if we lose power?
-What if my children get sick?
-What if the damage is long lasting?
If at any point you think, “what if the world comes to an end?” you went too far and take a step back!
Make a checklist: While you start to think of the “what ifs”, write down what you would need in each case. The check list is an evolving process and could take some time to get everything. Have the checklist in an accessible place so when an idea arises you can write it down. If you need some ideas on what you may need in addition to this blog go online. There are several websites with great tips. Some example would be:
Know Your Area: Find out as much information as you can about your local area. Be familiar with the evacuation route. Known what area you live in so when/if they announce evacuations you know if that means you have to go. Also, find out if your neighborhood is a flood zone; ask your neighbors how the area dealt with hurricanes in the past. Some neighborhoods are barely affected, while others can be devastated from a storm
Do research on surrounding towns; pick a town that would be ideal for an evacuation. Once you find an area that is safe, find a place to stay that accommodates to the needs of your family.
Find local shelters where you can go if you can’t travel.
Know your local radio and TV stations so you won’t be the last to know.
Budget: If you live in a hurricane area, a hurricane fund should be part of your budget. Saving is not always fun, especially if you saving for something that may-or-may-not-happen, but if something happens you won’t be burdened financially.
Things to budget for could be:
-Supplies to protect your home
-Extra food, water, medicine, ect..
-Cash (ATMs don’t work when there is no power either do cash registers..)
-Evacuation expenses (gas, hotel and eating out)
Shopping!-Once you have your list, get to the store, START EARLY! Do not wait until they announce a hurricane to get your supplies. Start your hurricane shopping early and do it throughout the year. Unlike waiting last minute, if you start early you have the option of buying a little at a time. If you wait last minute you have to deal with the crowds and shortages. Don’t underestimate shortages, you would be surprised how hard it is to find items such as batteries, flashlights and water during a hurricane threat. You don’t want to be the person to over pay for a flashlight online, with next day shipping!
I always liked to have my hurricane kit ready by May. Once you have all the items you need, put it in a safe place and don’t take anything from it unless you need it. I used to make the mistake of putting all my hurricane food with my normal food. The result would be that once we actually needed it, it was already gone.
What to shop for? Well, here are some challenges that may arise and how you can shop for them.
Thirst: Water, well of course. Have a three-day supply, with one gallon per person per day. If you have a child who drinks formula, figure their daily intake and have a few more to be safe.
If you have kids like mine, milk is essential. In most stores you can find single serve organic milk that does not require refrigeration. Most of the time, the milk is located where you would normally find juice boxes.
Hunger: Food, try to get a three day supply for your family. Think calories, the higher calories your food has the less you need and the less room it will take up. Try to find food that you actually like and could relate to your normal diet. For example, my diet requires a lot of protein, so to be prepared I stock up on jerky. My kids love fruit so I always stock up on applesauce and fruit cups for them.
Have some plastic utensils ready in case you can’t do the dishes or are on the go. A roll of paper towels can also be useful, not only for cleaning up after a meal, but to be used as plates to set light snacks on.
Illness/injury: It is always good to have some type of first aide for in your home or evacuation. The basics are all you really need such as bandages, tape and disinfectant. Focus more on medication, if you or anyone in your family takes medication make sure it is readily available and in a safe place. Also have over the counter medication ready. With young children it is very important to always have a thermometer and some type of fever reducer. My son always got fevers, so to be safe I always had a bottle of an acetaminophen and ibuprofen based medicine in any emergency kit I had. I also had at least four bottles of a children’s electrolyte drink in my hurricane kit.
Loss of Light: Flashlights and extra batteries. I always try to have one flashlight per person in my family and two extra heavy duty ones.
Hygiene: It is always good to stock up on baby wipes even if you don’t have a baby. You can use the wipes to cleanse your body when you are unable to shower or bathe. Also get at least one bottle of hand sanitizer and one pack of hand sanitizing wipes. Make sure to also stock up toilet paper for your home and evacuation.
If you have a baby, have extra diapers and diaper rash cream.
Personal Items: When packing clothing for an evacuation the focus should be comfort. Pack light and smart. Bring clothes that can go together for all types of environments. Three outfits should be more than enough to keep you comfortable; children though, are a different story. Young children, babies especially like to mess up their clothes. Your baby is not going to care if you are down to the last outfit and in the middle of nowhere, if they want to “explode” they will do so. Luckily their clothes take up less room; if you keep it basic with one piece outfits you can pack a lot. Babies don’t need baby jeans, baby cardigans or baby shoes during a hurricane.
If you have the room, pack a few of you children’s favorite toys and books. It will make the trip a lot easier on the kids and yourself.
Important Documents: To make sure you don’t lose anything important, have all your documents in one safe area. Have a container where you can file and store all your documents. Try to find a container that can be easily transported, so that way if you evacuate you can just bring it with.
If you are worried about photos, start making electronic versions of all your photos. You can store your photos on a small lap-top or external hard drive that you can also bring with.
These tips are just fraction of you can steps to take in order to be prepared for hurricane season. We all are different and all have different needs in case of an emergency. , I am not an expert, my advice is from my personal experience. For more information on hurricanes and how to be prepared visit any of the sites mentioned in this story.
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