As several tropical storms approach Florida and other regions of the country, residents are bracing for impact. Although people living in hurricane areas often become somewhat complacent about safety – especially after a few bad storms with no injuries – it is always important to treat each new storm warning seriously. Hurricanes and tropical storms can cause serious injuries, including drowning incidents, head injuries and spinal cord injuries caused by falling objects or crumbling homes, and other types of injuries.
To keep yourself and your family safe:
1) Stay alert to the news. Have a portable radio and listen to the latest weather forecasts and warnings so that you know what to do. If you hear an advisory or warning, be sure to follow the instructions you are given about evacuations and dangers.
2) Understand the risks prevalent with storms in your area. If you live near the water, tropical storms can cause tidal surges and flooding. No matter where you live, storms with powerful winds can compromise home structural integrity and can cause heavy objects (including power lines and poles as well as trees) to come crashing down.
3) Develop a formal emergency plan for hurricanes. This plan should include charted escape routes from each area of your home and workplace. You should also discuss safe meeting places near your home and outside of your neighborhood. That way, if your family is not together during a storm you can meet together and ensure everyone is accounted for. Have an out-of-town contact everyone can call so that someone will know that you are all safe.
4) Create an emergency kit. Include water – at least 2 liters per person per day — and non-perishable food. You will also want to have a can opener, flashlight, portable radio, extra clothes, and cash in small bills. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist for a two-week supply of medicine and supplies. Pharmacies may be closed for some time after a hurricane, so make sure you are prepared. Your kit should also include important documents – including ID and detailed medical histories and reports about medical conditions and allergies for every member of your household. Take pet food and pet supplies with you if you have a pet.
5) Follow orders and do not take any risks. If you are told to evacuate, do so, following the routes designated by authorities. If you know that a hurricane or major storm is headed for your area but you have not been told to evacuate, stay in your home and make sure that everyone who can safely get home gets home. Do not drive or go outside if you do not have to. If you think a storm will be severe, board up windows ahead of time and secure any items outside. Once inside during the storm, stay away from any windows or from the side of the house where any large trees are. Stay calm and listen to the radio for instructions.