As all eyes are on Harvey in the Gulf of Mexico, the American Red Cross is encouraging our neighbors to take action, especially for a tropical system that could bring heavy rainfall in Louisiana. As you prepare your household for significant threats such as flooding and even high winds and storm surge, our Red Cross team – comprised mostly of volunteers – is readying our disaster responders and supplies, checking shelter and caterer availability in case they're needed and working closely with local and state emergency managers and partners to coordinate efforts.
“We know the critical difference preparedness makes for each household in an emergency,” said Joshua Joachim, chief executive for the Red Cross in Louisiana. “As you take action, consider each person’s needs and how that might change if you had to evacuate suddenly, including moving to a shelter, or were without power for an extended period of time.”
Prepare in AdvancePreparation is the best protection against the dangers of a hurricane or tropical system. We encourage our neighbors to review these resources and to help us keep everyone safe by sharing preparedness and safety messaging with their loved ones, neighbors and colleagues. Be sure you’re Red Cross Ready. That means:Assembling an emergency preparedness kit that fits your individual needs.Creating a household evacuation plan that includes your pets.Staying informed about your community’s risk and response plans.Educating your family on how to use the Safe and Well website.Download the Emergency App for iPhone >> or for Android >>If you or a member of your household is an individual with access or functional needs, including a disability, consider developing a comprehensive evacuation plan in advance with family, care providers and care attendants, as appropriate. Complete a personal assessment of functional abilities and possible needs during and after an emergency or disaster situation, and create a personal support network to assist.
For detailed guidance, see FEMA’s Emergency Planning for People with Disabilities, Access and Functional Needs – FEMA – Landing Page (English open in Chrome) FEMA Checklist (English , Spanish , English – Large Print), Video (English language with American Sign Language open in Chrome)
Protecting Your FamilyTalk with your family about what to do before the storm’s effects hit. Discussing ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children.Ensure that every member of your family carries a Safe and Well wallet card.
Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts: Find an online NOAA radio stationSearch for a NOAA radio app in the Apple Store >> or Google Play>>Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio in the Red Cross StoreKeep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box. You may need quick, easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place less likely to be damaged if a hurricane causes flooding. Take pictures on a phone and keep copies of important documents and files on a flash drive that you can carry with you on your house or car keys.
Protecting Your Pets & AnimalsPrepare a pet emergency kit for your companion animals.
Protecting Your HomeProtect windows with permanent storm shutters or invest in one-half inch marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit your doors and windows.Identify a place to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools and trash cans (away from stairs and exits) to prevent them from being moved by high winds and possibly hurting someone.Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on the awnings.Remember that standard homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover flooding but flood insurance does. Get information at www.FloodSmart.gov. (open in Chrome)
Right Before:Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.Be prepared to evacuate quickly and know your routes and destinations. Find a local emergency shelter.Check your emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications or other medical supplies. Keep it nearby.
Then, If You Can, Do ThisFill plastic bottles with clean water for drinking.Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet or washing the floor or clothing.Fill your car's gas tank, in case an evacuation notice is issued.Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind, such as bicycles and patio furniture.
If You Still Have Time, Do ThisMove your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.Turn your gas off, a professional is required to turn it back on.Unplug small appliances to reduce potential damage from power surges that may occur.
If You Have Pets or LivestockConsider a precautionary evacuation of your animals, especially any large or numerous animals. Waiting until the last minute could be fatal for them and dangerous for you.Where possible, move livestock to higher ground. If using a horse or other trailer to evacuate your animals, move sooner rather than later.Bring your companion animals indoors and maintain direct control of them. Be sure that your pet emergency kit is ready to go in case of evacuation.
Staying Safe During a Hurricane or Tropical SystemStay indoors away from windows and glass doors. Flying debris from high winds is dangerous and can be deadly. DO NOT stay in a mobile or manufactured home. If you are in a mobile / manufactured home or temporary structure, move to a sturdy building.Don’t walk on beaches, riverbanks or in flood waters.Use flashlights in the dark if the power goes out. Do NOT use candles.Continue listening to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.Turn off the power and water mains if instructed to do so by local authorities.
Staying Safe OutdoorsTurn Around! Don’t Drown! Don't walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car. If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.Don't walk on beaches or riverbanks.Don’t allow children to play in or near flood water.Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.Stay out of areas subject to flooding. Underpasses, dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc. can become filled with water.
Staying Safe After a StormLet friends and family know you’re safe - Register yourself as safe on the Safe and Well websiteIf evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding.
Caring for Yourself & Loved Ones Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Promote emotional recovery by following these tips.Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.Help people who require additional assistance—infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
Returning Home Safely Stay out of any building that has water around it. Keep away from loose or dangling power lines. Report them immediately to the power company.Follow these tips for inspecting your home’s structure and utilities & systems after a hurricane.Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and its contents, for insurance purposes.
Cleaning and Repairing Your Home Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots, and be cautious when cleaning up.Learn more about how to clean up after a hurricane, including the supplies you’ll need, how to deal with contaminated food and water, and how to repair water damage.Don’t just repair your home, build in hurricane-resistant features to help protect against future storms:
*Secure double entry doors at the top and bottom.
*Strengthen garage doors to improve wind resistance, particularly double-wide garage doors.
*Select trees that are not as subject to uprooting to replace any damaged ones. A gardening or landscaping professional can give you excellent advice.
*If your home has been significantly damaged and will require rebuilding parts or all of it, consider building a safe room.
Ask a Professional to Ensure roof sheathing is properly installed. Ensure end gables are securely fastened to the rest of the roof.Fasten the roof to the walls with hurricane straps.Elevate your home if it’s near the coast and subject to flooding from storm surge.