After several years of unrelenting hurricanes and now the COVID-19 crisis, the Red Cross is encouraging families to think about seasonal disaster plans now -- and be prepared to adjust as needed.
Hurricane season starts June 1 and forecasters are predicting another active year. Local authorities and emergency response partners like the Red Cross are working together to ensure the safety of local communities and our workforce should a major hurricane impact Florida. It will be important to stay current on your community’s response plans for hurricane season and how these plans will be adapted because of COVID-19.
There are actions that you can take now to prepare while still protecting yourself from COVID-19 during a disaster.
GET A KIT. Make sure you are equipped with an emergency kit (or evacuation kit) and tell everyone in the household where it is located. Include everything you need for three days - food, water, personal hygiene items, as well at items to protect against COVID-19 like disinfectant supplies (hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol and cleaning wipes) and cloth face coverings for everyone in your household who can wear one safely. Don’t forget traditional emergency supplies like a flashlight and extra batteries, first aid kit, medications, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers and extra cash.
MAKE A PLAN. In a hurricane, you may need to leave your home quickly and travel to a safe place outside the affected area. If authorities advise you to evacuate, be prepared to leave immediately with your evacuation kit (emergency supplies). If you have to evacuate, have a plan for where you’ll go (relatives, friends) and know what sheltering resources are available in your community through emergency apps or messaging from local emergency management officials. If you have pets, keep a phone list of “pet friendly” motels/hotels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.
BE INFORMED. Register to receive free emergency alerts that your community may offer. Be sure that you can receive official notifications even during a power outage -- consider purchasing a battery-powered radio and download the free Red Cross Emergency App. Take a class like First Aid and CPR so that you have the skills to respond in an emergency before help arrives. Because of COVID-19, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions and available resources and facilities.
Remember: Disaster preparedness isn’t just a once-a-year personal plan. Share your plans with your neighbors. Learn which ones may need assistance and how can they contact you should a disaster strike when you aren’t home.
Need additional help? That’s why we’re here! Red Cross preparedness programs can give your family a great start. Find helpful information on our website, or join a free online Be Red Cross Ready presentation.