Preparing for Hurricanes Season During the COVID-19 PandemicMaury
Miami, Florida June 15
Planning for hurricane season and other potential disasters can be stressful, and because the 2020 hurricane season comes during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be especially so.
Public health and emergency response professionals have advice to help you safely prepare, evacuate, and shelter for severe storms while protecting yourself and others from COVID-19. Here are some tips to help you and your family stay safe during hurricane season this year.
Building an Emergency Kit for Hurricane Season in 2020
Any resident of a coastal area can tell you what June 1st means – it’s the beginning of hurricane season. This year is important to factor in the COVID-19 pandemic impact the saw manufacturing production diminished and essential goods being rationed at the retail point of sales nationwide. For this reason, it’s best to start building an emergency survival kit as early as possible to ensure you’re ready in the event of a hurricane. According to www.ready.gov, here is a list of essential items to include in your kit:
- Water, one gallon per person/pet per day for at least three days
- Non-perishable food, at least a three day supply, and a manual can opener
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- For residences were elderly reside get portable air conditioners that can be connected to generators.
- Family and emergency contact information
- Multipurpose tool, such as a Swiss Army knife
- Whistle to signal for help
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers
- Sleeping bag or blanket for each family member
- Pet food, if needed
- Infant formula and diapers, if needed
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Extra cash
- Extra set of keys for your car and home
- Change of clothing for each family member and rain jacket
- Important personal documents (for example, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, and Access Home homeowner insurance policy)
Make sure to monitor expiration dates on canned food and restock as needed. It’s also a good idea to reassess your kit every year, as family’s needs change.
You may already have some of the basic emergency kit items in your home. The key is to make sure they are organized, easy to find, and easy to carry. If you are a Louisiana policyholder, and you need to purchase items, the 2020 Louisiana Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday is Saturday, May 30th and Sunday, May 31st. During this annual holiday, consumers can make tax-free purchases on the first $1,500 of the sales price on a variety of supplies. To view a full list of tax-free items, visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov. Unfortunately, South Carolina doesn’t offer a similar tax holiday.
For additional suggestions to help you prepare for hurricane season, visit the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety website at www.disastersafety.org/hurricane.
NOAA has designed the week of May 24th – May 30th as Hurricane Preparedness Week and urges everyone to use this time to prepare, plan and know your evacuation zone. Visit www.nhc.noaa.gov for more information. While forecasters have predicted a quieter than normal hurricane season in 2020, it’s always important to be ready with a plan and supplies so you’re ready if disaster strikes.
Prepare for hurricane season
- Understand that your planning may be different this year because of the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
- Give yourself more time than usual to prepare your emergency food, water, and medicine supplies. Home delivery is the safest choice for buying disaster supplies; however, that may not be an option for everyone. If in-person shopping is your only choice, take steps to protect your and others’ health when running essential errands.
- Protect yourself and others when filling prescriptions by limiting in-person visits to the pharmacy. Sign up for mail order delivery or call in your prescription ahead of time and use drive-through windows or curbside pickup, if available.
- Pay attention to local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and shelters, including potential shelters for your pets.
- If you need to evacuate, prepare a “go kit” with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency. Include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, or bar or liquid soap if not available, and two cloth face coverings for each person. Face covers should not be used by children under the age of 2. They also should not be used by people having trouble breathing, or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- When you check on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow social distancing recommendations (staying at least 6 feet, about 2 arms’ length, from others) and other CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.
- If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stay safe after a hurricane
In addition to following guidance for staying safe and healthy after a hurricane, note that:
- You should continue to use preventive actions like washing your hands and wearing a face covering during clean up or when returning home.
- It may take longer than usual to restore power and water if they are out. Take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if you use a generator.
- If you are injured or ill, contact your medical provider for treatment recommendations. Keep wounds clean to prevent infection. Remember, accessing medical care may be more difficult than usual during the pandemic.
- Dealing with disasters can cause stress and strong emotions, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural to feel anxiety, grief, and worry. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover.
- People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrationexternal icon page.