Mobilizing your family for an impending disaster

Mobilizing your family for an impending disaster
If you live in an area where hurricane’s and earthquakes are far from the norm, here’s a rundown of the mandatory preparations from a local North Carolina town’s nursing resident; a city that narrowly escaped a heavy hit from Hurricane Irene in late August 2011.  You may want to print this out and tape inside your pantry cupboard door, in case you suddenly need to evacuate your home and want to remember what to take with you.With Hurricane Irene threatening to tear up the East Coast last week, many cities were scrambling to organize their resources. We cannot control Mother Nature, but we can control how we react to her fury. In cities along the eastern seaboard, shelters were being established, volunteers were being rounded up, and supplies were rapidly being depleted from supermarket shelves.

Preparations

As a hurricane nears, volunteers set up local shelters for people who must evacuate or who experience damage to their home or property. Many animal shelters even accept pets, so that families don’t need to leave behind their best friends. This offers peace of mind to those who must flee their homes during a storm.Emergency shelters are often set up by the Red Cross, and the local fire department may drive the streets to direct residents away from their homes should there be an emergency. The police department may also record a message on its voice mail telling people where they can go in case of an emergency.If you need to flee your house during a storm, whether you go to a shelter or to a hotel an hour away, make sure you bring: non-perishable food items, linens and towels, medications, and entertainment, such as books, puzzles, or even a computer or portable DVD player. If you have children, make sure you pack a few of their favorite toys or a “lovey” from home so they feel comfortable.

Evacuations

Although the public often has time to prepare for a hurricane—they can see it coming from miles away—it’s not always evident where the storm will make landfall until soon before it actually does. Sometimes, the rain that a hurricane brings is more of a threat than the high winds. It’s better to be safe and to plan for the worst, which means evacuating areas that may be in danger. If there is restricted access to your area, you may wish to evacuate whether or not it is required. If there is a medical emergency, rescue teams and medical personnel will be able reach you more easily if you are in a more accessible area.Officials may plead for voluntary evacuations, or if the danger threatens to be serious, they may require mandatory evacuations. However, evacuations must be organized. If everyone leaves town at once, it could cause traffic delays, accidents, and chaos.Hospitals and nursing homes in target zones or low-lying flood plains are often evacuated first. The threat of losing power when many patients require electronic equipment to maintain their health is dangerous. Some hospitals and nursing homes have their own backup power supplies. However, those that don’t should consider transporting their residents to other hospitals in the area.

Aftermath

If you have had to leave your home during a hurricane, be safe when you return. First of all, make sure authorities have declared the area safe. While driving home, keep your eye out for dangerous debris. Look out for fallen trees or power lines that may have fallen, and make sure there is power in your home if you are returning there. If your power has gone out, turn off light switches and major appliances to avoid the power surge that occurs when the power returns.If it appears that there has been structural damage to your home, be careful when reentering. Report any utility damage, and contact the city to ensure the sewers are not damaged before running water. If you have any reason to suspect a gas leak in your home, turn off the main gas valve, leave immediately, and contact the gas company.
Hurricanes are serious storms that can cause a great deal of damage or can pass without much drama. Being prepared can mean the difference between drama and a stress-free experience. If you know what to look for, who to call in an emergency, and what to do when you return home, you are more likely to ride out the storm without worry.

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