Preparedness

Creating an Evacuation plan

In the event of a catastrophe, time may be limited; therefore, being prepared to evacuate is critical.

A well-constructed emergency evacuation plan should account for the survival gear you may need, such as a household safety kit, but it also should be updated from time to time to account for children or special needs people in your household. Here are some important tasks and measures to consider:

  • Designate a car for possible evacuation and keep it filled with gas, especially during seasons when the risk level is highest for natural disasters.
  • Pack an emergency car kit if a catastrophe is imminent.
  • Research your community's predetermined evacuation routes. Map the safest areas and routes through which to evacuate your house.
  • Identify a primary and backup meeting place— remember that in the event of an emergency not all spots will be accessible.
  • Identify multiple emergency transit routes in all directions to a primary and a secondary meeting location.
  • Know where your nearest evacuation shelters are located.
  • Keep a battery-powered radio on hand in the event of lost power.
  • Stay tuned to local radio stations where you can be updated on the status of events.
  • Be able to identify warning sirens in your area if electronic communication is not available.
  • If you receive instruction to evacuate, do so immediately. Do not wait or delay, as doing so can leave you at risk of being trapped.
  • Follow evacuation routes strictly, and avoid shortcuts.
  • Have a plan for your pets— shelters may not accept them.
  • If time permits, close and lock all doors and windows, and shut off your utilities.
  • Keep your distance from downed power lines.
  • Look out for washed-out or blocked roads and bridges, and never drive into flooded areas, as these waters can be deceptively deep and powerful.

Other Considerations
Anticipate that children may become frightened and will look to you for guidance and reassurance. Discuss with your children and other family members the possibility that you may be temporarily separated from pets during an evacuation. Practicing emergency evacuation drills will help everyone involved react appropriately if the time comes. Having the knowledge and understanding ahead of time of what could happen will greatly reduce stress during a time when it is most important to be calm.

Creating a Household Safety Kit

Having a portable household safety kit ready if a home and region must be evacuated can be a lifesaver. All contents of a safety kit should be packed neatly into easily accessible plastic storage bins or bags. Contents should be easy to transfer quickly from your home to your car if you are forced to evacuate.

Here are important items to consider including in your kit:

  • Enough water to last each member of your family at least three days— one gallon per day per person— as public water supplies can become contaminated following a catastrophe.
  • Enough nonperishable food to last your entire family at least three days. Choose foods that do not require heat to eat safely. For example, energy bars take up little space and are nutritious.
  • A fully stocked first aid kit.
  • Flashlights.
  • A whistle to signal for help.
  • A battery- or crank-powered radio to listen to weather alerts, directions from local authorities and other catastrophe information.
  • Spare batteries for flashlights and radio.
  • Keep a secure cash supply available— ATMs will not work if the electricity is out.
  • Blankets and extra clothing for each family member.
  • Sturdy shoes for all members of your family to provide adequate protection against glass and other debris.
  • All prescription medications and over-the-counter painkillers.
  • Include personal hygiene items such as toilet paper, hand towels, soap, deodorant, feminine products, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand sanitizer and diapers.
  • Pet supplies. If at all possible, pets should not be left behind in a catastrophe— include their food as well as leashes, etc.
  • Cleaning supplies and garbage bags to collect your waste.
  • Sleeping bags and a tent may provide temporary shelter.
  • A small toolbox with basic tools and work gloves.

Thunder, Lightning and Hail Storms

Thunderstorms may pass by quickly but can damage property or harm people in an instant— and thunderstorms can produce tornadoes in all parts of the country. Although some storms can't be predicted, you can take steps to protect yourself and your property.

Prepare Ahead of Time

  • Teach your children what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Know where your pets or animals like to hide so you can find them before a storm.
  • Learn the thunderstorm danger signs: dark, towering or threatening clouds and the sound or appearance of distant lightning and thunder.
  • Take an inventory of your personal property.

Take Steps to Protect Your Property

  • Trim tree branches that could break windows and penetrate your home.
  • Install lightning rods to conduct lightning safely to the ground.
  • Have a household safety kit established and ready to go with you as needed.
  • Bring patio furniture and toys into the house or a secured garage. Secure large items, such as boats or swing sets, to the ground.
  • If hail is predicted, it is important to get animals to shelter, as they are especially vulnerable.
  • Close all doors and secure all windows.

If You Can Be Indoors

  • Avoid using utilities during the storm— rely on candles and battery-powered appliances instead.
  • Listen for radio reports (on a battery- or crank-powered radio only) from the National Weather Service and follow all instructions.
  • Do not handle any electrical equipment or telephones, as lightning can follow the wire. TV sets are particularly dangerous at this time.
  • Avoid bathtubs, water faucets and sinks, because metal pipes can transmit electricity.
  • If high winds are predicted, identify the safest rooms in your house in which to weather the storm, preferably internal rooms with no windows, and wait out the storm there.

If Caught Outdoors

  • Get into a building or car if at all possible.
  • If shelter isn't available, stay in the open and squat low to the ground as quickly as possible. Do not shelter under anything tall, such as a tree, fence, tower or telephone lines.
  • If you are in the woods, get under a low clump of trees.
  • Avoid metal objects that will act as natural lightning rods; these could be anything from farm equipment to fishing rods, bicycles, golf clubs or camping equipment.
  • Avoid water in rivers, lakes, ponds or streams. Be aware of the potential for flooding in low-lying areas.
  • If you are isolated in a level field or prairie and you feel your hair stand on end (which indicates that lightning is about to strike), drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.

If in a Car

  • Pull off the road— don't stop under trees.
  • Stay in your car with the emergency flashers turned on until the storm is over.
  • Avoid low-lying areas where flooded roads are likely.

After the Storm

  • Listen to the radio to determine whether the storm has passed.
  • Stay away from fallen power lines; report any you find.
  • Do not drive unless necessary; roads may be washed out or flooded.

Preventing Water Damage

Not all water damage and flooding are caused by a natural disaster. Flooding frequently occurs when bodies of water overflow or tides rise due to heavy rainfall or thawing snow. Flash floods can strike anywhere without warning when a large volume of rain falls within a short time. Just a single inch of water can cause costly damage to your home.

Hail/Fire Restoration recommends the following tips to help prevent water damage to your home:

Around your property

  • Extend downspouts far enough away from the foundation to prevent water from entering through basement walls.
  • Grade the property around your home to drain water away from it.
  • If you have water seepage problems, take corrective measures now.
  • Keep gutters clean of leaves and other debris and maintain your roof to keep water from seeping into your home.

Flood alarms

Flood alarms are battery-powered devices that can be placed wherever there is a risk of flooding. When the unit detects water, it sounds an alarm to warn of a potential flood. More expensive models can initiate a phone call to the number of your choice. Prices vary. For example, a basic model is available from Kitco Corporation at www.floodbusteronline.com.

Cleaning up after a flood

  • Wash and disinfect all areas that have been flooded. This includes walls, floors, closets, shelves, as well as heating and air-conditioning systems.
  • Properly dry or remove soaked carpets, padding and upholstery within 24-48 hours after a flood to prevent mold growth.
  • Anything that can’t be properly dried should be discarded.
    Contact Hail/Fire Restoration immediately to mitigate losses and begin recovery and restoration of your property.