The 2018 hurricane season is fully underway, with devastating results from Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas. No matter where you live, extreme weather events risk lives and sever access to everyday essentials like utilities, water and communication channels. Yet nearly two-thirds of American families don’t have a solid disaster plan and more than a third of households with children aren’t familiar with school emergency plans — levels that have changed little in years.
Developing a family culture of preparedness is critical to keeping your loved ones safe during and after a natural disaster. U.S. emergency officials urge a return to a ‘be-prepared’ mentality that is part of the nation’s heritage. Whether your family is evacuating from an affected area or returning to recover, following are tips for shifting from risk to resilience.
Before disaster strikes
Make a plan: Discussing what to do in the event of an emergency ahead of time helps to keep your family together and reduce fear. With an evacuation plan in place, families can take the anxiety out of a stressful situation and allow for extra time to find safety. Families and individuals should check their city or state website for official safety evacuation zones and implement a meeting space for loved ones. Many cities now have text-based notification systems that will provide you with city updates during and after a disaster. They will even text you if there is a major traffic disruption. It would also be prudent to download helpful apps ahead of time, which we’ll discuss further in the Helpful Tech section below.
Pack the essentials: It’s important to stock up on supplies including water, nonperishable foods and batteries. These supplies will come in handy during the emergency event and the days after, when issues prolonging normalcy occurs. For an official list of recommended supplies, please visit: https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
During the event
Helpful Tech: In today’s digital world, helpful mobile phone apps are key part of any natural disaster preparedness toolkit — make them part of your pre-disaster checklist. Consider downloading a weather app for severe weather alerts, a disaster relief resources app or a family location sharing app that enables users to share their location with loved ones, easily monitor evacuation efforts, check in to safe zones, and other vital features like the status of their battery life.
Reconnect and Rebuild: The aftermath of any extreme weather situation or natural disaster may be devastating and even dangerous for some. If you’ve evacuated the area, it’s important to return only when authorities alert you that it’s okay to do so. During this time, families and individuals should reconnect with friends and extended family to let them know they’re safe. As referenced above, locator apps can prove to be helpful in reuniting with loved ones after a catastrophe. Document any property damage and contact your insurance company for help. There are also official organizations that can help you to rebuild and stabilize your home after a storm, including The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.
While these measures won’t keep damage at bay, they will help to alleviate the emotional toll that comes with a natural disaster.
We’ve learned that reacting quickly to an emergency alert can save time and trouble for people in the affected area before, during and after. With the proper communication and planning, your family can stay stronger together when weathering the next emergency.