Hurricanes can cause life and property-threatening hazards such a flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes. The American Red Cross of Southern Maryland urges everyone to update their family evacuation plan, emergency preparedness kit and get better prepared for hurricane season, which runs from June 1st through November 30th. Preparation is the best protection against the dangers of a hurricane.
The American Red Cross recommends the following preparedness actions:
Download the free Red Cross Emergency app to your mobile device
This all-inclusive app provides expert advice on what to do in case of disasters such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, home fires, and more. It also includes tips on how assemble an emergency kit for your family in the event of a power outage or evacuation, an “I’m Safe” button to let loved ones know you are okay, and a real-time map to help you find the location of Red Cross shelters, should you need to leave your home. A Spanish language toggle switch is available. The free Emergency App is available in app stores for smartphones and tablets by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.
Make an emergency preparedness kit
Your kit should include a portable, sturdy, easy to carry, water resistant container and should have enough supplies for three days. Check your kit and replace perishable stock every six months. Whether you purchase a kit or choose to build your own, your three-day kit should include:
• Water - one gallon per person, per day.
• Food - non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items such as tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers, and canned fruit. Make sure to include a manual can opener.
• A battery-powered or hand-crank radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
• A first aid kit.
• Prescription and non-prescription medication items (seven-day supply). Include medical supplies like extra hearing aid batteries, syringes, etc.
• Copies of important documents, including birth certificates, insurance policies, a medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home and social security cards.
• Cell phone chargers.
• Multi-purpose tool.
• Sanitation and personal hygiene items.
• Extra cash. ATMs and credit cards won’t work if the power is out.
• Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
• One blanket or sleeping bag per person.
• Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowls).
• Maps of the area.
Prepare a family evacuation plan
The Red Cross urges each and every household to meet together to develop a household disaster plan. The plan should include
• Identifying two meeting places: one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire, and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
• Making advanced preparations for your pets. Be aware that pets may not be allowed in shelters. Contact hotels, motels, family members and animal shelters to see if they would allow pets in a disaster situation. Keep a contact list of “pet friendly” locations. If you are asked to evacuate, take your pets with you.
• Choosing an out-of-area emergency contact person. During or after a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance, especially if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your emergency contact person’s phone number and email address.
• Plan your evacuation route. Use local maps and identify alternate evacuation routes from home, work and/or school. Know where you are going and how you plan to get there before you leave home.
• Find out what types of disaster are likely to occur in your area and how to prepare for each.
• Find out how local authorities will contact you during a disaster. Listen to local media broadcasts or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest storm conditions and follow the advice of local authorities.
• Contact the Southern Maryland Chapter for details about community disaster education presentations that may be arranged or are available in your workplace, school or community organization.
• Get trained in CPR and first aid so you will know how to respond to emergencies in the event that help is delayed.
• If you are told to evacuate, do so immediately. You may choose to evacuate sooner than alerted if you think you may need additional time.
Know what to do if a hurricane WATCH is issued
• Listen to weather updates from your battery-powered or hand-cranked radio.
• Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, hanging plants, bicycles, toys and garden tools, anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
• Close all windows and doors. Cover windows with storm shutters or plywood.
• If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone, elevate furniture or move it to a higher floor to protect it from flooding.
• Fill your vehicle’s gas tank.
• Check your disaster supplies kit to make sure items have not expired.
Know what to do if a hurricane WARNING is issued
• Listen to the advice of local officials, and leave if they tell you to do so. To locate the nearest Red Cross emergency shelter, check your hurricane app or visit redcross.org/shelter.
• If in a manufactured home, check tie-downs and evacuate as told by local authorities.
• Secure your home by unplugging appliances.
• Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible.
• If you have propane, turn off the tank.
• If you are not advised to evacuate, stay inside, away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
• Use flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
• If power is lost, turn off appliances to reduce damage from a power surge when electricity is restored.
For more information on what to do before, during and after a hurricane, please visit redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane.
You can also visit redcross.org/SoMD for up-to-date information. We urge you to share these Red Cross hurricane preparedness tips with every member of your household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.