North Carolina is no stranger to natural hazards. Do you know what to do if severe weather impacts your area? Some weather events like hurricanes provide lead time for those in its path to plan and respond in advance, but many natural hazards happen with little to no warning at all. If you aren’t prepared when this happens, the impacts can be catastrophic.
September is National Preparedness Month and is also in the middle of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which starts June 1 and runs through November 30. Any time is a good time to work on your emergency plans, but it is especially important during hurricane season. If you haven’t already, get started today with these tips.
Build an Emergency Kit
Have an emergency kit prepared for your household. The kit should contain enough food, water and supplies to sustain each person and pet in the household for three to seven days.
What to put in your Emergency Preparedness Kit:
Don’t forget about the needs of your pets. Natural hazards affect our pets as well. Items you may need for sheltering in place or evacuating to a shelter include:
- Leash and collar
- Food and water bowls
- Pet food for three to seven days
- Photos of pet with you (in case pet becomes lost)
- Pet carrier
- Copy of immunization records (needed for shelters that allow pets)
Know Your Evacuation Plan
Establish a plan for evacuating if severe weather or other natural hazards hit your area. There are many questions that need to be answered beforehand. Knowing how to react will help you quickly get to safety. These questions should be answered and practiced as part of your evacuation plan.
Residents and visitors of coastal NC counties need to know which evacuation zone they are in during hurricane season. Know Your Zone is a tiered evacuation system that highlights areas most vulnerable to storm surge from hurricanes, tropical storms and other hazards. The Know Your Zone lookup tool is a new color-coded interactive map you can use to determine the evacuation zone where you live, work or are visiting based upon street address.
No matter where you live, make sure your plan covers these questions:
- Are you located in a hurricane evacuation zone or would your home possibly flood during a hurricane?
- If you need to evacuate, know where to go? Make arrangements ahead of time if staying with family or friends.
- Are you responsible for others (seniors, children or pets)?
- Look out for your neighbors, especially those who may have difficulties when evacuating, such as the disabled or seniors.
Check Up on Insurance and Establish and Emergency Savings Account
Now is a good time to check with your insurance agent on your coverage. Not all insurance policies are the same. Review your policy to make sure the amount and types of coverage you have meets the requirements for all possible hazards. Prepare by taking photos of valuables in your home. Make copies of your home and auto policies to include in your emergency kit with other important documents. If there is damage to your home, you will want to have that information handy. Learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program.
Americans at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or other emergency. If possible, consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. More financial preparedness tips can be found at Ready.gov.
Get It All on Paper
You have prepared your kit, learned your evacuation route, checked on your insurance policies now it’s time to put it all together in one emergency plan. The plan should outline all movements and communication for your family. Make sure you include:
- Each person’s responsibility during an event.
- A list of people to contact who will know if you are safe or need assistance during the storm.
- Your evacuation route.
- How to prepare your home (board up windows, secure loose items, etc.), if needed.
Take action during National Preparedness Month to ensure you are weather ready no matter the situation. You can find out more by visiting www.readync.gov, and reduce much of the headaches and stress by running through the checklist now.
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