On September 24th, 2022, President Biden issued a state of emergency in Florida. A total of 2.5 million Floridians have been evacuated as they prepare to be hit by hurricane Ian. With catastrophic winds reaching 130-156 mph, 5 - 12 ft storm surges, and unprecedented amounts of rainfall this is a serious category 4 storm.
The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis urged people of the severity of the storm, “when you have 5 to 12-foot storm surges, that is not something you want to be a part of, and Mother Nature is a fearsome adversary”.
Mass flooding and landslides are expected to occur across the entire peninsula of Florida in the coming days. Many will lose their homes and livelihoods. Families and individuals will need emergency humanitarian aid like food, water, bedding, and shelter.
Homeland security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are coordinating disaster relief and preparing to provide life-saving assistance to save lives and minimize infrastructure damage.
Life for Relief and development and many other humanitarian aid organizations are preparing for the worse and are organizing humanitarian aid shipments and volunteers to help those that will be hit by the storm.
Non-for-profits and governmental organizations can only do so much. At the end of the day, individuals will have the final say in their injury and death prevention.
There is much that a person can do to prevent harm to themselves and their family. Whether you are a veteran, or it is your first time preparing for a hurricane, here is a list of key things to do before, during and after a hurricane that just might save your life.
Before the Hurricane
Be Aware Know if you live in a hurricane-prone zone, if you do, sign up for local alerts and pay attention to local weather updates.
Remove Potential Danger Trim branches and cut down dead trees that may cause damage by falling on your home or vehicles. Secure any lawn furniture or pots on your property to the ground so items will not be blown away or damaged.
Secure your Home Ensure that windows and doors are locked shut. Put valuables in safe watertight containers. Place these containers on the highest floor in your home in case of flooding. Make sure furniture and valuables are moved away from windows as they may break.
Prepare an Emergency Kit Prepare self-sustaining food, water, cash, radio, medications, and a first aid kit to last a minimum of three days.
Have an Evacuation Plan When and if the time comes, make sure that your family knows exactly what to do to leave the premises quickly and efficiently.
Extra Tips If you do not have any bottled water, fill any containers with water and freeze it. Make sure you have manual devices like non-electric can openers in case you lose your power. Take pictures and videos of your valuables and home for insurance purposes.
If you have been advised to evacuate leave the area as soon as possible. Be aware of roads that maybe be blocked by traffic, flooded, or exposed to landslides.
During the Hurricane
Continue to pay attention to local news, and weather alerts to know when the storm will hit and whether or not to evacuate the area.
Turn Around Don’t Drown! If outside look behind you for storm surges and flooding water and seek shelter as soon as possible. Stay Inside (unless told to evacuate) Avoid walking or driving anywhere once the storm has hit. Eye of the Storm (it isn’t over yet!)
If the eye of the hurricane passes over your location, the winds will stop for a brief period. Do not leave your house, after a few minutes the winds will begin again with intensity from the opposite direction.
After the Hurricane
Continue to listen in and watch for additional rain and flood warnings.
Be Prepared for Secondary Disasters
Following a hurricane is often flooding, landslides, and infrastructure damage
Stay Away from Damaged Areas
If you see fallen power lines, or debris, do not approach these areas.
Do Not Use Flood Water
Flood water is often contaminated with bacteria, chemicals, dirt, waste, and a plethora of undesirable contaminants that can make you or your family sick. Do not drink flood water or use it for cleaning/cooking purposes and throw away any food that may have come into contact with it.
Assess Damage Take pictures of any damage done to your home and possessions for insurance claims. Protect your Body When cleaning up your home, cover your arms, hands, legs, and feet with long sleeves and thick-soled shoes to protect yourself from glass and other broken items.
Natural disasters are never easy and can be very scary especially if you are experiencing one for the first time. Remember to listen to the authorities in your area, follow directions given by leaders in the community and take the precautions listed here. The nation has prepared living essentials and support for those that need it. In addition, many Americans are standing in solidarity with those that are experiencing hurricane Ian by sending donations of emergency aid and care packages. Stay alert, take precautions, and keep you and your loved ones safe.