Hurricane Preparedness Checklist: Family Planning for Hurricane Safety

ATM at the secretary of state in Portage, MI

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Top Tips To Keep Your Family Safe During a Hurricane

Hurricanes can happen at any time of the night or day, but they do have one advantage for us which we don’t often have over things like earthquakes, tornadoes and other natural disasters . . . we usually have a few days warning before the tropical wrath hits us. That gives us just a couple of days to make sure that our families and homes are as prepared as they can be, before the hurricane strikes. Family, homes, possessions, pets, they all need to be taken care of and prepared for before the hurricane arrives. Here are a few top tips about how you can keep your family safe during hurricane season.

Hurricane Safety Tip #1 – Keep all special papers and photographs in a watertight container or plastic bag. You know, all of those important things like bank account papers, birth certificates, property deeds, medical cards, social security cards . . . as well as photos and important keepsakes which can never be replaced – they could all be ruined and washed away forever in one whoosh!

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Hurricane Safety Tip #2 – List your valuables. I know, I know, this is one of those types of jobs which is always on the “to do” list but never actually makes it onto the “done” list, but if you have an inventory of your valuables and possessions you are likely to be able to claim up to 20% more insurance than if you don’t. Think about it, even people who are financially secure cannot really afford to replace all of their worldly possessions. If your home is hit by a hurricane and you lose your possessions and valuables, you’re bound to forget all about some of the items you have lost. Go on, make that list, you know it makes sense.

Hurricane Safety Tip #3 – Make yourself scarce, go on, beat it. Yes, you heard me right, get out of town before the hurricane hits. Either move in with the relatives for a few days, failing that (or if there’s only the in-laws available and it’s gonna be a bit squashed) then book into a motel, hotel or somewhere else which is outside of the hurricane danger zone. It’s not brave and it’s not clever to try and out-smart a hurricane storm in your high rise condo.

Hurricane Safety Tip #4 – Don’t forget the pets . . . it’s important to keep your family and your property safe, but don’t forget about your pets. Many hotels and motels won’t accommodate your pets too, so if that’s your plan then you’ll need to find them a safe boarding kennels or cattery which is outside of the hurricane danger zone.

Hurricane Safety Tip #5 – Have your bags packed and ready . . . just a few necessities can make all of the difference, a bag for each member of the family with a few essentials . . . pajamas, toiletries etc, in case you have to move out for the night in a hurry.

Hurricane Safety Tip #6 – Make sure that you have plenty of prescription medicines on hand. If you’re hit by a tropical storm which cuts out the power, the last thing you need to worry about is a medical emergency. Make sure that you have plenty of prescription medication available in plenty of time before the hurricane season is upon you.

Hurricane Safety Tip #7 – Money, money, money. No, I’m not suggesting that your career path takes a u-turn towards looting, but do remember to hit the ATM machine before a hurricane hits you. Who knows how long they will be out of action if a tropical storm hits the power supply, and although the best things in life are free, you still don’t get far without cash in your pocket.

Hurricane Safety Tip #8 – make sure that you’ve got plenty of non-perishable food in hand. Even though your town might make provision for emergency hurricane supplies, it’s really down to you to make sure that your family and yourself has got plenty of food and drinking water available. Fill up some large plastic containers with water and pop them in the freezer in good time, that way you’ll have a supply of fresh, cold drinking water which will help to keep the rest of your supplies cold . . . good thinking eh? It’s a good idea to have canned food stuffs (don’t forget the opener) as well as stuff like cereals and energy bars.

Hurricane Safety Tip #9 – Fix up the hurricane shutters . . . what hurricane shutters? Well, if you don’t have any hurricane shutters it could be a little late to sort that out for this season, but don’t leave it too late for next year . . . anyway, mean time you can board up your windows with plywood, it really can help.  Accordion hurricane shutters work really well, why not have some fitted by the experts before you might need them.

Hurricane Safety Tip #10 – Flashlight batteries – check! Cell phone batteries – check! Radio batteries – check! Yes, check all of the batteries in case you might need them . . . it’s not much fun being stuck in a place with no electricity, no light and no means of contacting the outside world, or indeed, knowing what’s going on.

Hurricane Safety Tip #11 – Make sure that all of your family knows about your emergency hurricane plan, escape routes, points of call etc, and what to do in case of a hurricane emergency.

Hurricane Safety Tip #12 – tents, sleeping bags, camping equipment. Okay, this might not be the ideal accommodation to think about during hurricane season, but think about it for a minute. What if you’re out of the hurricane danger zone but haven’t quite made it to your alternative accommodation, although emergency shelters are sometimes available, it’s really a much better idea to make sure that you’ve got all of that stuff sorted out for yourself. Sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor might not be ideal, but it sure beats sleeping on the floor without a sleeping bag.

Hurricane Safety Tip #13 – Have hurricane insurance before the hurricane. Also check your homeowners policy to see if you are covered for flooding, as flood coverage is almost always an add-on coverage.

Make no mistake . . . they’re coming!

Family Hurricane Safety Kit Checklist

  • Flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Bottled water – a minimum of 3 gallons for each and every person
  • Battery powered radio – how else you gonna’ know what’s going on?
  • Battery powered lantern – how else you gonna’ see what you’re doing in a power outage?
  • First aid kit
  • Form of ID (and I don’t mean a mirror . . . yet, that’s me)
  • Lots of canned food, plus a can opener (non electric of course)
  • High energy foods like jelly, crackers and peanut butter (did you know that peanut butter isn’t actually butter at all . . . interesting)
  • Utility knife, pliers, shut off wrench and other basic tools
  • Compass
  • Tape
  • Personal items – including soap, toothbrush etc
  • Pencils and paper
  • Pet food (only important if you have a pet)
  • Rain Gear and other protective clothing
  • Change of clothes, bedding, sleeping bag etc
  • Plastic garbage bags (don’t forget the ties)

And pop these things into a waterproof container (and then take them with you)

  • Insurance policies
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates (only important if you are actually married)
  • Proof of residence, might be a deed or a lease depending on whether you own or rent your property
  • Deeds, wills, copies of any recent tax returns etc
  • Drivers license
  • Social security card
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