The Storm that Battered Millions
“The storm of a lifetime…” New Zealand Herald
“We’ve never seen anything like it…” Shep Shephard, Weather.com
We’ve gathered six simple steps you can take right now to strengthen your family’s defenses against unexpected weather emergencies in the future.
Consider this a warning: Hurricane Sandy smashed his/her/its way across the Jersey shore and into the densely populated Northeast in 2012, leaving a wake of death and devastation. Sixty million lives were affected. No need to rehash the gruesome horrors of the destruction here – you’ve seen and heard all that by now.
Rather, we’re concentrating on take-aways – very practical lessons we can all learn and apply to improving our personal preparations for any kind of future disruptions to life as we know it.
Sandy’s wake left nearly 7.9 million people across 15 states without power.You can bet that virtually every last one of them wished they’d done more to prepare for the major inconvenience and extreme discomfort.
Shelter in Place? Or Evacuate?
When it comes the tough question of whether to shelter in place or evacuate your home, you need to be ready for both contingencies. You want to be able to decide to stay where you are – or flee – based strictly on the merits, not preparedness inadequacies.
We do not want that happening to you or any of our readers.
If a major storm is approaching like Hurricane Sandy, you must make a choice, and your life may hang in the balance – to shelter in place or to evacuate. To truly be ready for anything, you want to fully explore and develop in advance both options; otherwise, you don’t truly have options, you’re simply forced to go with whichever scenario you’ve prepared for most effectively.
In an incident like Sandy, evacuation might be your smartest option. Sandy killed 286 people on the destructive path it followed through seven different countries. Virtually every one of the dead had one thing in common – they elected not to evacuate in the face of an approaching killer storm of historic proportions.
Evacuating can help you avoid falling trees, killer floods, and days or weeks without power, water, emergency services, public transit, and more. Unless you’re ready to cope with these kinds of dire circumstances, evacuation is really your best option.
With a hurricane, you at least have the advantage of knowing it’s coming. You may not know exactly how bad things are going to get or precisely what path the storm will take, but you have an idea if you’re going to be affected.
And even in those circumstances, evacuation is difficult as this storm shows us – unless you get moving early. The stores are ransacked by people buying last minute survival items. There have even been reports of fist fights breaking out in grocery store aisles during the lead-up to Sandy’s landfall. The streets are clogged with people trying to get out, as well. Even when it’s your best option, evacuation can be a dangerous prospect, especially if you’re not prepared.
The Time to Prepare
Is Always Sooner Than You Think
The time to plan for an evacuation strategy is well before a disaster happens. Once a storm like Sandy is barreling down on you, it can be dangerous (if not impossible) to try to get the supplies you need. If you don’t have a plan in place with your family and you don’t know where you’re evacuating to, you could get separated or find yourself fleeing into greater danger.
It’s all an urgent reminder to plan an evacuation strategy now. Today.
We want to help you get started by outlining the important things to include in your evacuation plan.
Your Highest Priority should be your safety, and the safety of your family. The first step to developing an evacuation plan is to establish a meeting place. Hopefully, you’re all together at home as you prepare to leave, but if you’re ever separated, you should all know where to reconvene to get set to evacuate. In addition to a meeting place, you should establish where you’ll evacuate to. Choose at least two bug-out destinations in case one is inaccessible. And map out multiple routes to each.
Create a Basic Supply Kit that you can grab quickly and take with you in the case of an emergency. Include things like first-aid supplies, water or water purification tablets, three days’ worth of food, matches, a whistle, a flashlight, and basic sanitation items like toilet paper and moist toilettes. Keep a couple hundred dollars in cash in this kit, too. It could come in handy during an evacuation.
Take Important Medications with you. If anyone in your family takes prescription medications, make sure you bring an adequate supply with you when you evacuate.
Don’t Forget Important Files and Documents. You’ll need your ID at the very least. If you can, grab your credit cards, too, which could make on-the-road purchases easier, and save you the trouble of canceling your cards if they’re lost or destroyed in the disaster. If you have time, take birth certificates and other important documents with you–but remember, you can get certified copies of these if they’re destroyed; they’re not worth risking your life over.
Dress for the Occasion. When you’re evacuating, allow time for everyone to change into sensible clothing and shoes. Good sturdy walking shoes and clothing that will protect you from the elements can be a lifesaver if something happens during your evacuation, leaving you stranded in the elements.
Bring a Radio that works on batteries or a hand-crank. The voice on the other end may let you know which routes are safe to leave by and when it’s all right to return to your home.
Protect Your Sentimental Items. We all have photos and items we’ve accumulated over the years that we’d hate to lose. If there’s time, grab them. We also suggest you keep a back up of your entire computer hard drive, including digital photos. If you have to evacuate, it’s easier to grab a single external back up drive than to search for multiple items. Or, even better, you can use an online back-up service and then you won’t have to worry about this step at all during the crucial moments of an emergency.
Putting together an evacuation plan and checklist can help you and your family safely escape a dangerous situation without leaving anything important behind. Hurricane Sandy reminded us all how important it is to make these preparations sooner rather than waiting until the last minute.