Now that the official a hurricane season is in full swing as of June 1, everyone should take action, if they have not already, to craft an emergency response plan aimed at minimizing the effect of a hazardous weather conditions caused by hurricane, an emergency management office representative at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) said.
According to Darryl Hart, an emergency manager at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB), an effective hurricane preparedness plan should allow people to survive for three days using their own supplies and resources. The three-day period is the minimum amount of time in which an individual or family should be able to survive in place until help arrives, Hart said pointing to federal guidelines.
He listed several items he says people need to have on hand in the event that they are stranded due to post-hurricane conditions.
“People should consider what they will need to survive a storm. They should prepare a kit with supplies where they could survive for at least the 72-hours. We recommend families have ready-made supplies of water and dry foods, like granola bars and cereals,” he said.
Hart said that drug stores may not operate at full capacity in the aftermath of a hurricane or hazardous weather conditions. Thus, people should have ample supplies of prescription drugs and other medications needed to hold out for the first few days.
“If you are taking any kind of medications, you should have extra supplies on hand to last a while because pharmacies may not be open, and you might run out of medication,” Hart said.
People should also keep money nearby and safely secured in a dry place. If the hurricane impacts electrical power, the use of credits cards, bank cards and other forms electronic money may not be possible, according to Hart.
“We recommend folks keep cash on hand in zip lock bags because ATMs might not work after a storm has passed and the power is out,” he said.
He said local stores may request patrons use cash only.
“All of the merchants in the area may just want cash only, and this way [with money in the zip lock bags], you already have cash on hand,” he said.
The items he listed are part of what goes into what he calls a “go kit,” a collection of basic daily necessities. These kits should also include important documents like wills and insurance papers, he said.
The number and type of supplies included in these “go kits” should be adjusted for family members. For example, families with infants should add enough formula and other baby items like diapers and bottles to their kits to last for days, Hart said.
People are also advised to look in on their neighbors, particularly those with physical challenges.
“Use the good neighbor policy, check on those who are handicapped and need extra attention. Ask them, ‘What is your plan if we have to evacuate the residence? What do you plan on doing?’,” Hart said.
Effective hurricane preparedness plan should check how well family members can communicate which each other.
“If you know what is going on, be in communication. Most people have their own cell phones now and you should make sure everyone knows how to send a text message,” Hart advised.
If weather conditions prevent cell phone calls from going through, texting is the next best option, according to Hart.
“Text messages will go through even when phone lines are down,” he said.
For personal health and well being, people should ensure they can communicate quickly and effectively with everyone involved, he also said.
In line with Hart’s hurricane preparedness objectives, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said people should be educated about the dangers of these types of natural disasters.
In a memo released days before the official start of the hurricane season June 1, FEMA Chief of Staff Michael Coen emphasized the importance of clearly knowing the immediate dangers around you and your family and having a reaction plan in place.
“Today I am asking [everyone] to be aware and take action this hurricane season. The first step begins by knowing your risk. When it comes to hurricanes, water is the biggest hazard and knowing your evacuation zone is key,” he said.
People unfamiliar with a prepared emergency escape route leading them out of harm’s way usually ignore calls to clear the immediate area, according to FEMA.
“Studies show that when people don’t know their evacuation zones, they are less likely to heed the warnings. If you are advised to evacuate, do so and have a plan in place for your entire family and pets,” Coen said.