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Do you know how to prepare for a hurricane? Here are some things that you can do and know in order to be ready!
When I first moved to North Carolina in my early twenties, I knew nothing about hurricane safety. I’d grown up in Buffalo and had zero experience with them. And since I was living in the Raleigh-Durham area, 200 miles from the Atlantic coast, I didn’t think I needed to worry about hurricanes there either.
So when a monster hurricane named Fran hit the coast, my husband and I were completely unprepared – and unconcerned. We were nowhere near the coast! But Fran was 500 miles across, so it had no trouble pounding us inland.
We found ourselves without electricity for nine days. I’d just done a huge grocery shopping trip, and just about all of that food went bad. It hadn’t occurred to me to get cash before the storm, and the few stores that were able to open couldn’t take credit cards. And the ATMs had no power. I hadn’t bothered filling my car’s gas tank, and ended up waiting about four hours in a gas line just to get one gallon. We didn’t even have any candles or board games. It was almost comical.
I did have a little hand-crank radio. That was it. That was my one tiny little piece of hurricane preparedness.
I live in Brooklyn now, a place even less likely to get hit with a hurricane. Even during Hurricane Sandy, the almost-imperceptible hill our neighborhood is on kept things from flooding. Our power lines are underground, so in thirteen years here we’ve never lost power due to weather. But I don’t let myself get complacent – I learned my lesson with Fran.
We’re in hurricane season now, and there are certain dangers that everyone should be aware of.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
The more widely-available portable generators have become, the more carbon monoxide deaths there have been from them. Charcoal or gas grills used indoors or near windows are also a danger. Just this summer four young adults died in a cabin in Maine after running a generator in the basement.
Never, ever use a generator or grill indoors, or in a garage attached to a house, or near air intakes. And make sure you have at least one carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your house, and make sure they have battery backups.
It’s always better during a power outage to use battery-operated lanterns and flashlights rather than candles. But if candles are your only option, make sure you follow these safety rules to help prevent a home fire:
- Put all candles out before going to sleep or leaving the room.
- Always put candles far out of the reach of children.
- Use candle holders that won’t tip over easily.
Disaster Supply Kit
It’s a good idea to have a basic disaster kit ready at all times. It should have food, water, flashlights, a first-aid kit, and more. Consider including a fire extinguisher in your kit. You can get lots of info for building and maintaining a disaster supply kit here. (Or you can just buy one that’s already made up for you, with everything you need to survive for 72 hours.)
Prepare Your Kids
Kids should be involved in disaster preparedness planning so that they’ll feel safer in the event of a disaster. There’s a great section just for kids on the government’s preparedness website. Kids can learn how to build a supply kit, set up emergency meeting spots, and learn tips for over a dozen different disasters.