Most of the time we love Mother Nature. But let’s be honest – sometimes, she can be downright scary. And this time of year, nature can be a force to be reckoned with.
Depending on where you live, the odds are good you could be in the path of a hurricane, tornado, or wildfire. So it’s vital that you be prepared.
Natural disaster survival kits: The basics
A solid, basic survival kit is the same, regardless of which natural disaster you’re facing. If a hurricane, tornado, or wildfire comes through or you have to evacuate, you need to be prepared for services to be minimal, or nonexistent, for at least a few days. Keep a survival kit in your car, by your door, or in your safe room. Anywhere you can access it quickly.
Have the following on hand:
It may seem overwhelming to put together a weather safety kit, but, if you ever need it, you’ll be grateful you took the time.
Getting Specific: Hurricane safety checklist
Hurricane season officially runs from June 1st to November 30th. While some hurricanes have occurred outside of these months, 97 percent of hurricanes have formed in this window. If you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes, here are some important steps you can take to help keep you, your loved ones and your property safe.
1. Pay attention:
First and foremost, pay attention to the weather. A hurricane warning means that a hurricane could make landfall within 48 hours. A hurricane watch means your timeline is closer to 36 hours. The one good thing about hurricanes is that they tend to be foreseeable.
2. Prepare your property:
Preparing your property means bringing in or storing anything that could be picked up by high winds. Think patio furniture and grills. Close and board up glass windows and doors.
3. Reset your appliances:
Set your refrigerator and freezer to their lowest settings. If the power goes out, this will help keep your food safe longer. Just try not to open the doors often.
4. Secure dangerous gasses:
Secure all propane tanks, and turn off natural gas lines if appropriate.
5. Fill the tank:
Make sure you have gas in your car. If you need to evacuate in front of a storm, you won’t have time to stop. Also, resources may be running low within the community at that point.
6. Have a family plan:
Talk in advance about where you will go and what you will take with you, if you need to leave. This will also help everyone stay calm in what can be a very chaotic and scary situation. Remember to include your pets in the plan.
7. Stay inside:
If you stay during the storm, stay inside! Keep away from windows and glass doors. Interior rooms on the first floor are your best bets. If your power goes out, turn off electricity at the breaker. If you experience flooding, unplug appliances and move to higher levels.
8. Evacuate if necessary:
If your city or state government requests you leave the area, do so. Prepare your property as best you can, and then leave the area.
Make sure your hurricane survival kit has maps marked with evacuation routes out of town. And remember, once the property is prepped, there’s not much more you can do to keep it safe from the storm by being there – and if you are hurt, injured, or stranded, it will be more difficult for first responders to help you if you haven’t left.
Getting Specific: Tornado safety checklist
Tornados are scary because, unlike hurricanes and most wildfires, they really do seem to come out of nowhere. But that doesn’t mean you have to be completely unprepared.
Like hurricanes, tornados have occurred in every month. However, they’re more likely to touch down April through July, so pay close attention during those months. And tornados have been reported in every state, so they aren’t just a threat to the plains.
Still, wherever you are, there are steps you can take to stay safe before and during a tornado.
1. Have a designated safe room:
Ideally, your safe room is underground, either in a basement or a root cellar. If it has to be above ground, make sure it’s in the center of the house and has no windows or doors leading outside.
Once you’ve created your tornado survival kit, store it in the safe room. If you live in one of the plains states, consider reinforcing your safe room.
2. Listen to the weather:
While tornados seem to come out of nowhere, there are usually warning signs. A tornado watch means the weather conditions are ripe for a tornado in the area. If a tornado watch has been issued, be prepared to move quickly. A tornado warning means there is an imminent threat to life and property. Gather all pets and family and move to your safe room immediately.
3. Know how your community handles tornado warnings:
Some towns have a siren that sounds if a tornado has been sighted. Many have community shelters for people caught away from home. Do a little research into how your community has prepared for tornados, and work that into your own family tornado plan.
4. Practice tornado drills:
Because tornados happen so quickly and without much warning, it’s important for every person in the family… from the youngest to the oldest… to know what they’re supposed to do, when they’re supposed to do it, and where they’re supposed to go. Practice will keep everyone calm and help ensure everyone gets to safety.
5. Prepare your property:
Make sure that loose or dead tree limbs are removed and cleared in a timely manner. Secure anything that can picked up and flung around by high winds.
Getting Specific: Wildfire safety checklist
The truth is that wildfires can be sparked any time of year. However, the hotter months of summer are when most people think about fire season. And while they can – and have – burned in every state, traditionally drier states and those under drought conditions in the west and south tend to be at greater risk of wildfire.
The good news is that there are some things you can do to help prevent wildfires and protect yourself from them. They also tend to be predictable, so you will usually have time to make a solid plan.
1. Make your property defensible:
Keep a 30’ perimeter around your house clear of any dead trees, grass, or bushes. Plant fire resistant trees and bushes throughout the property. Move any leftover firewood at least 100’ away from the house. Keep your gutters clear.
If possible, have a water source available on your property. This can be a well, or even a swimming pool.
3. Prepare for a quick exit:
Once fire has been reported in your area, gather any small, personal items that can’t be replaced and put them by the door or in the car. Be frugal in your choices, you should only have a few items such as a couple of photographs or a special piece of jewelry. Remember, you may have to move quickly, so you won’t have time to relocate your entire household.
Keep a flashlight and pair of sturdy shoes in the same place, so you can be out of the house without much searching.
4. Round up pets:
Consider putting your pets in one room so that you know exactly where they are and can gather them quickly if you need to.
5. Prep your car:
Keep your driveway clear and park your car facing the street for easier road access. Make sure your wildfire survival kit is already in the car.
6. Map your exit:
Mark a map with at least two routes out of the area, in case one is blocked.
7. Evacuate when asked:
If you’re given an order to evacuate, do it. You may want to stay and try to save your property. Unfortunately, by the time an evacuation order comes, there won’t be much you can do. The fire will either come through, or it won’t. But once the routes out are blocked, you’re putting your life – and the lives of the first responders – at risk by staying.
Hurricanes, tornados, and wildfires can be devastating and terrifying. But you can have a plan. You can be in control. And you don’t have to be afraid.
Common sense – and these safety checklists – will go a long way to keeping you calm and prepared, no matter what. Please share these important tips with your friends and family. They could literally save a life.
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