With two named storms so far this Hurricane Season, it is important to continue to stay vigilant in our severe weather preparations. This month, I will provide you with information on how to prepare before the storm is even named and how to prepare on a budget.
Are you at risk for a direct hit? Check out this Map to see if your state has a history of hurricane activity. If you are here in New Jersey, I can assure you that you are at risk! Next, take our quiz to determine your level of preparedness:
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO PREPARE?
Are you prepared for an emergency? Quiz yourself on the questions below to see just how prepared you are. If you don’t know the answer to some of the questions, visit Ready.gov or your local Office of Emergency Management for tips and resources that can help make sure you, your family, and your community are Ready.
- Does your local government have an emergency or disaster plan for your community? If so, do you know what it is?
- Do you know how to find the emergency broadcasting channel on the radio?
- Does your city/county have an emergency alert system? Is so, are you signed up to get alerts?
- Do you know your local evacuation routes? How would you get out of town from work? How about from home?
- Does your city/county have a Citizen Corps Council? (If you don’t know, visit http://www.ready.gov/citizen-corps)
- In the last year, have you prepared or updated your Emergency Supply Kit with emergency supplies like water, food and medicine that is kept in a designated place in your home?
- In the last year, have you prepared a small kit with emergency supplies that you keep at home, in your car or where you work to take with you if you had to leave quickly?
- In the last year, have you made a specific plan for how you and your family would communicate in an emergency situation if you were separated?
- Are you prepared to help your neighbor? In most emergencies, the best way to get help quickly is by working with your neighbors. Do you know anyone in your neighborhood who might need a little extra help preparing for or responding to an emergency?
- Have you established a specific meeting place for your family to reunite in the event you and your family cannot return home or are evacuated?
- In the last year, have you practiced or drilled on what to do in an emergency at home?
- In the last year, have you volunteered to help prepare for or respond to a major emergency?
- Have you taken first aid training such as CPR in the past five years?
If you are like me, you probably don't have the answers to most of the questions in our quiz. Now is the time to seek out those answers. There is no impending doom coming towards our area as I write this, so it is our nature to assume none is coming. I like to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. With a little thoughtful planning now, we can be ready for whatever comes our way all summer long.
Let's talk about an emergency preparedness plan for your home and business first. If you do not have one in place for your business, contact us right away. We can provide you with a no-cost assessment of your facility and compile all the data in our SERVPRO Ready Plan app for your smartphone. For your home, we recommend creating a written emergency preparedness and action plan NOW. Start by deciding where to go if you are at home, school, work, outdoors, or in a car when a hurricane or tropical storm threatens. Update these plans every school year and as places of employment and residence change. Identify two places where you and your family members can meet if you are separated: one outside your home and another outside your neighborhood. Learn how your local government handles emergencies by contacting your local American Red Cross chapter or local Emergency Management Agency (EMA). Review your insurance coverage for your home and business. Find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone by contacting your local emergency management office. Visit The Weather Channel for more information.
To physically prepare your home and business for a future storm, consider purchasing hurricane shutters now. If you do not live on the coast, but still want to protect your windows from high winds, plywood is a good option. Purchase it now to avoid scarcity immediately before the storm. It is recommended that you the lumber you use to cover your windows be a minimum of 3/4" thick, but preferably 1" thick. You can purchase (2) 1/2" thick boards and double up. This thickness will hold up well in most hurricane conditions up to a Category 3. The Insurance Institute of Business and Home Safety provides further information on how to prepare your home, what to consider when remodeling, and tips on how to prevent water damage.
PREPAREDNESS ON A BUDGET
It Doesn’t Cost a lot to be Prepared
It is no secret that many families and individuals are looking to cut back on spending. But with the frequency of disasters, both natural and manmade, can you afford not to be prepared? Preparedness doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Here are a few tips* on how you can protect those that matter to you without spending a fortune.
- Make a Plan. Work with you family and neighbors to make an emergency plan for the types of disasters that affect your area. Make sure everyone in your family understands where to go and what to do in case of an emergency. You can download Family Emergency Plan templates www.ready.gov/make-a-plan
- Update Contact Information. Having accurate records for family, friends and neighbors will help you stay in contact and possibly help those in need. Make sure updated contact information is posted in visible places throughout your house and workplace.
- Check Your Policy. Review your insurance policy annually and make any necessary changes – renters, too! When a disaster strikes, you want to know that your coverage will get you back on your feet.
- Make a Ready List. You may not need all of the items in ready-made preparedness kits. Choose the essentials that fit your needs and budget. Don’t forget to keep supplies at work and in your car. Sample Ready Lists can be found at www.ready.gov/document/family-supply-list
- Plan Your Purchases. You can save money by thinking ahead. Don’t buy preparedness items just before a storm when they’re expensive and supplies will be in high demand. Buy items at the end of the season when you can get good deals.
- Shop Sales. Shop at sales and used goods stores. Buy preparedness items throughout the year, instead of all at once, and you won’t notice the cost as much.
- Make Sure it Keeps. Store water in safe, containers. You don’t need to buy expensive bottled water, just make sure your water containers are disinfected and airtight
- Request a Gift. We all get things we don’t need. Suggest preparedness supplies as gifts from your friends and family. It just might save your life.
- Trade a Night Out. Trade one night out to fund your 72-hour kit. Taking a family of four to the movies can cost upwards of $80. Just one night staying in could fund your Ready kit.
- The best tip: start now. Take small steps toward preparedness and before you know it, you will be Ready!
Next month, I will provide you with information on what to include in your Emergency Supply Kit, what to do before an approaching storm, and how to keep your pets safe. In August, we will discuss what the different categories of hurricanes mean to you, what to do during a storm, and we will review your power outage checklist. Finally, in September, we will consider how to manage your emotional health after a disaster, and ways to help your community or other communities affected by severe weather. If there is anything else you are interested in learning more about, please send us an email and we will try to address your concerns in one of our blogs.