The most important part of being prepared for natural disasters is to expect the unexpected. Our Emergency Preparedness Guide—What To Do When Disaster Threatens is now available at City Hall for your convenience! Until you grab your copy, here’s some important information on preparing for a hurricane.
The two most important keys to weather safety are preparation, and acting on those preparations when the time comes.
The first part of being fully prepared is gathering information about your specific area and all its potential risks. You should know whether or not you live in an evacuation area, as well as be aware of your own home’s vulnerability to flooding, high winds, etc. You should have a thorough understanding of the National Weather Service forecast products, as well as the meaning of NWS watches and warnings.
In the middle of a natural disaster, you can forget normal, everyday things you know well in the panic. It’s a good idea to keep a list of important contact information should you need it during a disaster. Here are some suggested contacts to have on hand, but feel free to add any you know you may need:
- Emergency management offices
- County law enforcement
- County public safety fire/rescue
- State, county, city/town government
- Local hospitals
- Local utilities
- Local American Red Cross
- Local TV stations
- Local radio stations
- Your property insurance agent
Being aware of your area’s specific risks is the best way to be prepared for them, so utilize hazard and vulnerability assessment tools (most available online) to gather more information about what you might be at risk for. Check out FEMA’s Map Portal or FloodSmart.gov for helpful info.
Plan and take action when you need to. Take time to answer some tough questions, like the following:
- If you aren’t with your friends/family when disaster strikes, how will you find each other?
- How will you know if your children or parents are safe?
- What are the safety procedures if you’re evacuated?
- What are the safety procedures if you’re confined to your home?
- What do you do if water, gas, electricity, or phone services are shut off?
Answering these questions will give you a great foundational knowledge of what to do if disaster strikes, and how to adapt to varying scenarios.
You should have a basic disaster supplies kit ready to go at all times. Consider the questions above—you may want to have multiple, in multiple locations for different situations. Some basic essentials to include in your kit are:
- Water—one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
- Food—at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio, and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Safety whistle
- Dust mask for each person
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Manual can opener
- Local maps
- Cell phone with charger and backup battery
After you have these essentials, you can add other items you know you’ll need, like any prescription medications, glasses or contact lenses, important family documents, matches, or games for children.
When it comes to evacuation, be aware of all your protection options should you have to decide whether or not to evacuate (unless, of course, you’re ordered to evacuate). You should review the FEMA Evacuation Guidelines to make sure you have enough time to pack, and enough time to inform friends and family that you need to leave. When you’re waiting out a storm, remember two things:
- Tornadoes are often a result of hurricanes
- The eye of the storm—it will seem like the storm is over, but only half of it has passed
Always wait until your area is declared safe by authorities before returning home, and remember that recovering from a disaster is usually a very gradual process, depending on the severity.
For more information, check out some of the resources below:
- Atmore’s Emergency Preparedness Guide
- FEMA—Are You Read? Guide
- National Weather Service Weather Safety
- Be a Force of Nature with NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation
- NWS StormReady Sites & Communities
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration
- Ready.gov Kids
- American Red Cross
As always, you can contact the city of Atmore for more specific information and tips!