This Atlantic hurricane season is projected to be one of the most active in recent history. So far, there have been 13 named storms, and the NOAA is calling for as many as 25 by the end of hurricane season in November. To make matters even more complicated for residents in areas like Miami, the COVID-19 pandemic could make a hurricane evacuation much more difficult.
To keep yourself and your family safe in the event that an evacuation becomes necessary, we have compiled some tips to help you prepare. We are already well into hurricane season, so the sooner you start taking precautions, the better off you will be in a worst-case scenario.
Preparing for Hurricanes during COVID-19
By now, you have probably already started preparing your home for the next big storm. If not, take a moment to read our recommendations here. When you are prepping your home and your plans for sheltering in place and evacuation this year, it’s important to understand that it could take longer to get supplies.
Do not wait till the last minute to buy essentials like bottled water and emergency food because the stores might not have them when you need them. Give yourself enough time to amass the supplies you need over time. Delivery is the safest way to avoid spreading and contracting the coronavirus, but time is of the essence. If you need to purchase your supplies at a store, practice social distancing, wear a mask, and limit the time you spend in public.
Know Where to Get Critical Information
From weather alerts to evacuation orders, knowing where to get reliable, accurate information is essential if you want to be prepared in the event of a hurricane evacuation. Good sources of information that will help keep you and your family safe include:
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for storm research and forecasting
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for COVID-19 related information
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency for steps to take in an emergency
- State and Local Agencies
Sign up to receive local alerts so you can stay informed of any evacuation orders.
Update Your Emergency Supply Kit
By now, you should have an emergency supply kit packed and ready to go in case of a hurricane evacuation. If you do not have emergency supplies yet, start gathering them now.
Here are some emergency supplies to consider:
Make sure you are equipped with emergency medical supplies, such as first aid. If you or anyone in your family have a medical condition that requires medication, ensure that you have enough to last for a long period of time.
Food and Water
Have at least three days of non-perishable food and water for your whole family. Consider any dietary or health restrictions when planning.
Tools and Equipment
The unexpected can happen on the road during a hurricane evacuation and even after you reach your destination. Flashlights, portable radios, and multi-tools can come in handy when you least expect it.
Clothing and Gear
Pack extra sets of warm clothes and sturdy shoes to prevent hypothermia and injury.
Pack any important documents in a waterproof container. You may also want to write down contact information for anyone you might need to talk to in case your phone loses power and you cannot charge it.
Emergency Supplies for COVID-19
In addition to all the supplies that you would normally pack for a hurricane evacuation, you should also make sure to include a few other items to keep yourself and your family safe from spreading the coronavirus.
Consider updating your emergency supply kit with the following:
- Hand sanitizer and hand soap
- Extra masks
- Disposable gloves
- Disinfectant wipes
Plan Multiple Routes to Your Destination
Whether you plan to evacuate to a shelter, to a hotel, or to a relative’s or friend’s home in a safe area, it is important to plan multiple routes to your destination. Some routes may become blocked because of inclement weather, debris, or excessive traffic. It is also a good idea to keep an atlas in your car in case cell service is interrupted or your cell phone loses power. Map out a few different routes ahead of time to avoid confusion and panic during evacuation.
Prepare for Staying in a Shelter during a Pandemic
Emergency personnel at hurricane shelters are taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but we all need to be prepared to do our part to keep ourselves and others safe.
Staying in a hurricane shelter during a pandemic is not ideal, but for many, it could be a reality this year. If you must seek safety at a hurricane shelter this season, these tips will help you stay safe:
- Practice social distancing when possible. Maintain at least six feet between yourself and others who are not in your party.
- While staying in the shelter, wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer frequently. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm instead of into your hands. Even if shelter policy does not require it, wear a mask if you are able.
- Avoid touching surfaces that are likely to come into contact with the virus, such as handrails. If you touch a high-risk surface, wash your hands as soon as possible.
- Keep your living space in the shelter as clean as possible. Disinfect any items that you or members of your family touch frequently, such as toys and cell phones.
- If you start to develop symptoms of COVID-19, inform shelter staff immediately.
If you have any questions about safety precautions or available resources after arriving at your shelter, talk to a staff member. They will guide and support you as much as they can.
The Next Hurricane Evacuation Is Coming. Don’t Get Caught without Representation If Your Home Is Damaged.
Your homeowner’s insurance policy is supposed to cover the damage that happens to your home during a hurricane. Unfortunately, the insurance companies will not honor all claims. If you need help getting what you are owed, talk to us today.