Preparing for summer storms
Summer weather threats vary depending on where you live, but they all share one characteristic: they can happen anytime. Creating an emergency preparedness plan for your family helps keep everyone safe during a crisis and gets your household back to normal quickly after the storm passes.
Learn the Risks and Prepare for all Situations
The first step on the path to preparedness is knowing the hazards you and your family may face. Typical summer storm hazards include hurricanes, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, but floods, tsunamis and wildfires are also a threat in some parts of the country. Depending on where you live, you may need to shelter in place or evacuate quickly, and a well-planned emergency survival kit can help in either situation.
Communication is Key
Severe weather can impact cell phone service, cut power and phone lines and block roads. Ensure everyone can keep in touch by creating a printed list of phone numbers, email addresses and social media contacts, including information for emergency services and health care providers, for each family member. You should also plan one or more meeting points, so you can find each other if communications networks fail.
Of course, emergency preparedness includes keeping up with information from official sources. Invest in a portable radio that can receive NOAA weather broadcasts to stay on top of changing weather conditions. A hand crank or solar charger for radio and cell phone batteries also keeps communication devices topped up if the power is out for an extended period.
Emergency Survival Kit Essentials
Whether you’re evacuating a coastal area or sheltering in place, there are a few basic needs every emergency preparedness plan should address.
Food and Water
During a crisis, utilities may fail, so keep at least three days worth of food and water on hand for each member of your family, including pets. Choose portable foods with a long shelf-life that don’t require cooking, and be sure to stock a variety, so everyone has something they like. Consider adding water purification tablets or a portable water filter to your emergency storm kit too. Store all these items in waterproof containers, such as sealed 5-gallon buckets, to prevent contamination, and don’t forget a can opener, utensils, cups and plates.
Clothing and Bedding
Your supplies should include a set of durable clothing, extra socks and underwear and lightweight bedding for each family member. Additional options include sunglasses and hats; outerwear, such as ponchos or jackets; and pillows or sleeping bags that offer additional sleeping comfort.
A basic first-aid kit is an essential part of any summer storm preparedness plan. At a minimum, it should contain a selection of bandages, gauze, ace bandages, antibiotic ointments, bug spray, sunscreen and pain relievers. You may want to include a first-aid manual, liquid bandages, tweezers and bandage scissors, too. You should also think about prescription medications, glasses and contact lenses, and make sure they don’t get left behind.
Shelter and Sanitation
If you’re planning to shelter in place, choose a well-protected, below-grade or interior room with no windows to serve as storm shelter and storage area for your emergency survival kit. If you must evacuate, add plastic sheeting or heavy tarp and some rope to your supplies. You can use these to create a temporary shelter or block the wind and rain. In either case, you’ll need to deal with sanitation, too. A portable camping toilet is an excellent option, but a 5-gallon bucket can do in a pinch. Be sure to pack toilet paper, feminine hygiene products and grooming supplies, such as combs, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
See What You’re Doing
If the power goes out, that windowless shelter is going to be dark. Be sure you have flashlights or electric lanterns on hand to keep the area illuminated. Solar-powered or hand-cranked models are a good choice, as are flashlights with rechargeable batteries.
Beyond the Basics
Once you’ve stocked up on supplies to keep everyone healthy, warm, fed and hydrated, there are a few additional items that can increase your summer storm preparedness.
- Store a fire extinguisher in your storm shelter, and be prepared if the worst happens.
- Keep a tool kit with your emergency supplies, and use it to effect basic repairs or turn off utilities.
- Add games, books or puzzles to your supplies to keep everyone entertained.
- Use duct tape to seal openings, repair torn sleeping bags or ponchos or secure the lid on a container.
- Fire up a generator to keep essentials such as radios, cell phones and medical equipment running if the power fails.
Summer weather can strike without warning, but having an emergency preparedness plan can help keep you and your family safe and healthy in a crisis. Create an emergency storm kit that meets the unique needs of your family, and enjoy the peace of mind that being prepared brings.