Memories from the 2018 hurricane season have yet to fade. Many communities in the Carolinas are still recovering from the damage caused by Hurricane Florence. Hurricane season for the Atlantic region extends from May 1 through November 1.
Hurricanes are long-term weather events; from the development of a tropical depression, to a tropical storm, to a hurricane, and typically decreasing in intensity through the same stages, storms can be on the radar for a week or more. News stations broadcast prediction models with prospective tracks and landfall points daily as the storm develops.
Hurricane Florence developed on August 31, made landfall on September 14, and fully dissipated on September 18. Two weeks of tracking, predictions, and media coverage and still, many people were not prepared for the storm and it’s aftermath.
It is important to remember that hurricanes are HUGE storms. Prediction models place a large focus on the single point that designates landfall, but that point is only where the eye of the storm passes over land. Hundreds of miles surrounding that single location are affected by the storm, and residents living anywhere within the zone should have an emergency plan in place, whether or not evacuation is necessary.
Having an emergency plan and supplies in place is important even with tropical storms and weaker hurricanes. These storms can still cause power outages, temporary flooding, and road closures, necessitating the use of supplies from the kit.
With larger storms, only coastal locations are typically subject to mandatory evacuation orders, if an order is issued at all. Voluntary evacuation decisions are typically delayed as long as possible as residents avoid missing work while keeping an eye on the forecast.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Ready NC provides residents with information about how to create a family emergency plan, basic emergency supplies, and information on insurance, vital records, evacuations, and special emergency considerations.
Create an emergency plan for your family. Make sure everyone knows where the emergency kit is kept. Have an assigned family member as an emergency contact; identify the location of local shelters; arrange a meeting place if you are not together when an event strikes.
The free ReadyNC mobile app is helpful for making decisions about potential evacuation, as well as navigating life after an emergency event. Among other features, the app allows users to track road conditions and closures, power outages, find shelters, and monitor flood gages.
Taking into consideration the size of your household, gather the items from the emergency ready kit list and place in a large plastic bin (or several). Print the list (and any applicable sub-lists) and tape to the top of the bin to easily update the kit each year.
Don’t wait until disaster is imminent. Many of the items you may already have at home. Gather them now, while you aren’t experiencing any sense of panic. Purchase any missing items now while the store shelves are fully stocked.
Emergency kits should be updated at least once a year. Check expiration dates on toiletries and medications. At the end of hurricane season, swap out clothes for cold weather, add some high calorie foods such as protein bars, nuts, and dried fruit. Stash the kit in your car for preparedness in the event your become stranded in your vehicle during a winter storm.
For more information about preparing and planning for emergencies, visit ReadyNC.org. In depth hurricane forecasts are available at nhc.noaa.gov.
Emergency Ready Kit:
• Water – 1 gallon per person per day for 3 to 7 days
• Food – non-perishable and canned food supply for 3 to 7 days
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and National oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with extra batteries
• First aid kit and first aid book
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• Manual can opener for food
• Anti-bacterial hand wipes or gel
• Wrench or pliers to turn off water
• Blanket or sleeping bag – 1 per person
• Seasonal change of clothing, including sturdy shoes
• Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, feminine supplies
• Extra house and car keys
• Fire extinguisher
• Cash and change
• Books, games or cards
GRAB BEFORE YOU GO
• Cell phone with charger
• Prescription medications and glasses
• Important documents – insurance policies, copy of driver’s license, Social Security card, bank account records
• Baby wipes
• Soap/Baby powder
• Canned food and juices
• Contact lenses and supplies
• Extra eye glasses
For people with Functional Needs:
• Container for hearing aid/cochlear implant processor (to keep dry)
• Extra batteries for hearing aid/choclear implant
• Communication card explaining best way to communicate with you
• Current photos of your pets in case they become lost
• Medicine your pet requires
• Pet beds and toys
• Pet carrier
• Proper fitting muzzle