How To Get Ready For A Hurricane

32 POST Hurricane stock-photos-image853448849

Updated 3/8/21

Nothing is more unpredictable than a hurricane.

As Hurricane Isaac made landfall on the New Orleans coastline as a category 1 storm, residents couldn’t help remembering another storm just a few short years earlier that took the lives of at least 1,836 people and changed the lives of tens of thousands more.  
But even with a category 1 storm like Isaac, lives can change. 
Just ask the residents that didn’t think that Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Irma were going to be as big a deal as Superstorm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina and decided not to evacuate. 
People who thought that their homes would be okay, ended up having to grab whatever they could — not necessarily what they would need – and evacuate with just a few minute’s notice.
It certainly proves one thing — you just can’t count on history or predictions, to help you decide what’s right for yourself, your property or your family.

So what’s the best way to prepare for a hurricane?

It’s a good lesson for us all.  Even though you might not technically live in a disaster zone or directly in the way of an approaching hurricane or wildfire, it doesn’t hurt to have the things that are important to you, ready to go. As we tell our customers (and practice ourselves), you have to keep your vital information, documents and keepsakes backed up to at least three different locations and your emergency bin packed ready to go at a moment’s notice.  That way if you suddenly have to evacuate, those things will already be taken care of.  It’s just one more thing you won’t have to worry about doing at the last minute or doing without, later.
The best thing about a hurricane — at least as opposed to earthquakes and tornadoes — is that you usually get a few days notice that they’re coming.  Like our friends in New Orleans and Tampa, Hurricane Isaac was predicted giving some residents time to gather up their belongings and evacuate.  But of course Isaac turned the opposite direction striking areas that weren’t originally expected.  One important take-away from these disasters is the importance of staying aware and using evacuation warnings to get your own stuff together even if the homes on your particular street aren’t in immediate danger.   Heed warnings when they are given!  Stubbornly staying behind because residents think they can “handle it” has gotten thousands of people killed.  Another lesson is to always purchase flood insurance.
So how do you prepare for a hurricane? As we tell our readers, we always follow the Three Step Approach.

Step One

Make sure that you have your disaster survival gear and know how to secure your home and personal safety when a hurricane strikes.

Step Two

Make sure that you’re able to grab everything you need – necessities, keepsakes, vital information – and leave for a safer location, in less than ten minutes. It’s a lot easier than it sounds. All you need is to do is to take the necessary steps now, to ensure you have access to all the items and information that will help you get back to living your normal life, as quickly and easily as possible. You’ll also want to make sure that the things that are most vital to you — your important papers, financial and insurance information, treasured photos, videos and music and scannable keepsakes are backed up onto a portable hard drive and stored in a safe deposit box or safe, in the town where you will go during evacuation. That way it will be safe, sound and waiting for you when you arrive.

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Step Three

Make sure that you have a pre-written plan of what you’ll do and where you’ll go when a disaster strikes, including a plan for how you’ll get back to your normal life, once the disaster is over.
If you live in hurricane country, you absolutely need an Evacuation Plan and a Get Back To Life PlanIf you don’t know the evacuation routes in your area, call your local fire department for this information way before hurricane season.  And while you’re at it, make sure you also ask them where the emergency shelters are in your area in case  you suddenly need one.  You always need to know where you’re going and what you and your family would do if your area becomes uninhabitable.   If necessary make a plan with other relatives or neighbors to evacuate together and share transportation and costs.
Even if your home is safe from rising flood waters and away from the areas predicted to feel the heaviest impact of the storm, your neighborhood and city might still without power or basic city services for a few days — or a few weeks.  Just as survivors of Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Katrina!  Telephone and/or cell service may also be down.   Not only does that mean you won’t have light, but you also won’t have power for computers or televisions and radios. Grocery and drug stores won’t be able to ring up purchases, ATMs won’t work, garage door openers might not function. Name any tool or convenience we rely on in this world and chances are it’s powered by electricity.
So if your hurricane plan is to shelter-in-place make sure that you always have an alternative source of power, battery powered flashlights, extra cash, a supply of canned or frozen food that doesn’t need to be cooked to be eaten, and the all-important supply of water – enough to last you and everyone in your family for three days. Since your home or neighborhood might have significant damage, keep rubber-soled shoes, a warm jacket and other emergency gear within reach of your bed or right inside your closet. Rubber soled shoes will protect your feet from the broken glass, turbid water and rocks that will probably be strewn everywhere.  
We aren’t going to get into the details of how to turn off your gas, when to boil water or a list of items to have on hand for a hurricane, because there are literally hundreds of sources for that information.
You should also create or update your evacuation checklist, detailing the items that you and your family would need if you were unable to live in your home for three or more days. This includes all of your necessities, prescriptions, vital documents (or access to them on portable hard drives, online or in out of area safe deposit boxes), keepsakes, personal and professional contacts, ID and basic medical history and anything else that your family will need while evacuated.

We want you to think about something.

Think about the coverage of the last few hurricanes and floods you saw on CNN.   Like Hurricane Sandy for example.  Remember the faces of the people in the midst of the storm?
They looked shell-shocked, terrified, lost. Most of those people, were at least moderately prepared for a disaster. Those in earthquake country most likely had stockpiled some food and water, those in hurricane country might even have evacuated and done everything their local news and emergency authorities told them to do. And yet, after the disaster, they were standing there, scared and helpless, because their homes, the people they loved, and basically their entire lives have been destroyed to the point that their own existence was now unrecognizable. All of those people, rich and poor, young and old — they all had one thing in common. They had NO idea where to go and what to do from here.
And THAT – knowing what to do and where to go after the disaster, is step three.  The most important step of all.
Facing a disaster without giving yourself a plan to recover from it, is like trying to build a house with no blueprint and no tools!
Having two plans can make all the difference in getting you through those first few days and weeks after a disaster strikes.
What are the plans?  They are the Family Evacuation Plan and the Get Back To Life Plan — the same plans that we’ve built into our book Ready In 10.
The evacuation plan is pretty simple. It all comes from one question… If you were at home or at work and suddenly had to evacuate your home, or your general area, where would you go?
As you think about the locations you’ll use for your evacuation, consider, the people traveling with you, how you’ll get there (car, bus, plane), any pets traveling with you and whether those locations will actually work for you – for instance are they close to stores or services your family might need, like pharmacies, clothing, banks and doctors.
We suggest that people have three different locations in mind, to give you different types of locations and choices depending on the circumstances. As you create your plan, write everything down in detail. If you have to use this plan, you and the people you love are probably going to be in panic mode and following an easy to understand plan, will help calm and focus you.
Write down the people who will be traveling with you, and any special instructions you’ll need to gather everyone together, in case a disaster or emergency occurs while you’re all away from home. Name the location that you and your family will use to meet up with each other and the location you will be evacuating to, if you cannot live in your home, but your immediate area is still safe. Include the address of the location, contact phone, email address and directions.

Location, Location

Next choose a location (writing down the details, address and contact information) that your family will use if you not only need to evacuate your home, but your immediate area or city. This might happen during a moderate hurricane or a tornado. Your third location is out of state, for a serious, widely destructive emergency like the Mexico Earthquake, Hurricane Irma or Maria, the California Wildfires, or other disaster that will make your entire region uninhabitable.
You will also include these locations on your emergency wallet card and your family’s wallet cards. Now, no matter what the disaster, even a fire or local emergency, you and your family will now know where and how to gather, and who will be responsible for what, so you can quickly reunite and travel on to your emergency location together. If you like, you can also give a card to the person you chose to be your out-of-area contact as well.
Will you have any pets traveling with you? Be sure to fill out the pet section, so that you will have all the information you need for them, like the name and numbers for the veterinarian, their licenses, and names/numbers of kennels in the location you are evacuating to and any prescriptions or special instructions you’ll need until you return home.

Your Get Back To Life Plan

The worst part of any disaster, short of losing a loved one, is the possibility that the home you love and care for and everything in it would be damaged beyond repair. That is what your Get Back To Life Plan is all about.
Imagine that you and your family have survived the hurricane, but had to leave your area because it is uninhabitable.
You’re in your evacuation location a week after the waters subside. The phone rings. It’s a good friend of yours, who has just toured your neighborhood and is calling to tell you that your home is badly damaged and he doubts that you will be able to live in it for several months, if ever again.
After you and your family hold each other for a while and talk, you finally feel strong enough to open your Backup Plan Notebook. There you find your Get Back To Life Plan and begin making calls to your insurance agent, your contractor and your boss. You call the local real estate agent in your evacuation city and ask her to begin looking for temporary housing, register your children in the local school, and begin calling the contacts you need (that you jotted down just in case), to help you settle in. Getting settled is easier than you thought, since you have copies of all of the vital documents you need, like your birth certificates and property deeds in a safe deposit box at the local bank. It takes some time, but with hard work and a lot of courage, you and your family are back to living in a matter of weeks.
Now imagine the same scenario, the same phone call, holding your family, talking and then realizing that you have no plan and no clue how to get back to living your life. It’s CNN coverage all over again. The best part of this little scenario is that it hasn’t happened to you and that you have time right now, to make sure no matter what ever occurs in your area, you and your family will be prepared.
If you don’t have a copy of our Get Back To Life Plan yet, just download it here.  
Take a few minutes to think about the following questions:
  • How will we handle our bank accounts, paying our monthly bills and receiving our paychecks?   How much emergency cash do we need to have, while traveling?
  • What are our credit card limits and toll free numbers for emergency increases?
  • How will we work? Will we work remotely or have to look for new positions? What people or  contacts can we call about temporary or permanent jobs?
  • How will we handle our medical, dental and prescription needs while in the new location? What doctors and dentists can we use while there?
  • How long can we stay in our evacuation location? If we need to remain evacuated longer,  where will we go/stay? Who will our real estate contacts be, if we need to find new permanent or temporary housing?
  • How are we going to secure the property or vehicles we had to leave behind?
  • How will we take care of our pets, during the evacuation and until we find new permanent housing?
  • How will we handle our transportation needs? What contacts will we need to purchase or lease vehicles?
  • How will we handle our daycare needs? How will we handle getting our children into school if necessary? What schools or contacts will we need, to enroll them in a new school in a temporary or new location?
  • How will we handle any special needs in our family?
Once you’ve answered the questions, get your family together to work out any potential problems you have uncovered and then draft your plan. And don’t forget to compile a list of real estate agents, financial contacts and jobs, schools, doctors and other professionals or information that you might need to establish yourself in the new city temporarily or permanently.
Starting over is never easy, especially when it happens because of a disaster or other life changing emergency. But taking a few hours now to think through and draft a plan, will give you and your family the direction, information and support that you need, to get through not only the first hours and days after a disaster, but the first steps back to living the life you’ve worked so hard to build.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together!

Ready In 10 | 10 Steps. 10 Days. Ready For Almost Anything.

This cutting-edge system is designed to help you get the information you need, keepsakes you treasure and people you love, through life’s little and not so little disasters. In one piece. So you can get back to living your normal life, as quickly and painlessly as possible. Paperback Or Instant Download

How To Organize Your Digital Life

How To Organize Your Digital Life gives a place to record all of your passwords, account information and even emergency instructions, along with secure ways to access them remotely, putting your social media life and your business life exactly where it belongs. At your fingertips. Paperback Or Instant Download

Keep The Stuff You Love Safe

How To Save Your Treasured Voice Mail Messages
How To Save Your Home Movies And Videos
How To Archive Your Digital Photos
How To Archive Your Print Photos
How To Make A Home Inventory
How To Get Your Financial Life In Order
How To Preserve Your Family History
How To Back Up Your Facebook Friends List
Turn Your Smartphone Into A Mobile Command Center
How To Backup Your Music, MP3s And Vinyl Albums
How To Access Your Money No Matter Where You Are

How To Make Your Family Findable

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Updated On 3/2/21

In the middle of a busy, but quiet day in a Midwestern university lecture hall, the silence was pierced by a sudden hail of gunfire. Students ran out of the hall and ducked under tables.

As the police and security were struggling to control the situation, a number of the student’s parents not only knew that their children were all right, but they knew exactly what was happening in real time.
So how did some people have a window into the NIU tragedy while others did not?

Facebook and Twitter!  

As unlikely as it sounds, students ingeniously found a way to use their favorite method of keeping in touch with friends, as a tool to connect to the outside world in the middle of a crisis.
Students caught under desks and tables grabbed their smartphones and started communicating.
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Tweets went out on Twitter, notes and messages went up on Facebook pages, telling friends and family that students, who were literally in the thick of things, were all right.
Others told loved ones or security officers the location of trapped students, facilitating their rescue. Friends started texting each other to find out where everyone was and, in the hours that followed, created Facebook pages memorializing the fallen.
It was an amazing display of people, who are connected 24/7, using that same technology to communicate, connect, survive and heal. 
Since disasters are completely unpredictable, the only way to prepare yourself and your family is to give yourselves as many different avenues of communication as possible. You never know which one will make the difference. 
Want to learn how your family can use technology to communicate during an emergency? Then let’s get started. 

Make Your Family Findable

Smartphones, tablets and notebook computers are a phenomenal way to stay in touch with each other during an emergency.  Whether you send an email, text, tweet or Facebook message, you can find out the location and condition of everyone you love in seconds.
In a dire emergency, you can even send help, confirm or update emergency plans and even mobilize family and friends to be at the side of someone who’s been injured, using real time information. 
Since emergencies are by nature, completely unpredictable, the best way to prepare yourself and your family is to give yourselves as many different avenues of communication as possible.   You never know which one will make the difference.
For example during Japan’s major earthquakes cell phone towers barely worked because of earthquake damage and overloaded networks.  But Wi-Fi was up and running.  So what kept the Japanese connected with their families and the outside world?  Twitter, Facebook, Skype and YouTube!   
Whether we’re talking about earthquakes, wildfires or tornadoes, giving yourself and your family options is a smart idea.

Update Your Smartphones

When you created your Family Evacuation Plan (if you haven’t done that yet, you’ll find one in our book “Keep Your Stuff Safe“), you listed the phone numbers, email addresses and social media addresses for each family member in your household. 
Now we’re going to take that one step further by adding all of that information to each family member’s iPhones, Galaxies, and other smartphones.  While you’re at it, add new contacts on everyone’s phones for all of your out-of-area emergency contacts.

Direct Messaging

If cell phone service is down and you are unable to text, don’t forget that Twitter and Facebook can also be used to send direct messages.  Those are personal messages that only go to the recipient – not broadcast to the whole world. If you don’t know how to send a direct message, here’s a quick tutorial. 
First, you need to make sure that every member of your family is following or has “liked” all of the other family members on Twitter and Facebook.  That will enable you to direct message each other.
For Twitter, click on Messages, then Direct Messages and then type in @ and the family member’s username.  Then type in your message and hit send.
  • For Facebook, click the little message icon at the top of your page (between the little people and the little earth).  Then click Send New Message and type in the name of the recipient or recipients and click send.

When Time Is An Issue…

Using a social media platform like HootSuite.com may help.  With HootSuite, you can send a single message that can be posted to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn simultaneously, ensuring that your family or friends would see your message immediately, no matter what site they happen to be on at the moment.

The Value Of A Photo

During a few recent tornadoes, even lifelong residents found themselves disoriented when the tornado turned their normal landmarks into kindling.  
If your spouse or kids don’t know where they are after an emergency and need help a quick photo texted or uploaded to Instagram or Facebook could help you locate them.  This is especially true of GPS enabled phones or cameras, like the Sony HX400V Compact Digital Camera that can send or upload those photos to others via Wi-Fi.

Creating A Communications Plan 

Once you and your family have updated your phones and completed your evacuation plans, sit down with them to discuss the ways you can use technology to stay in touch with each other during a disaster. 
Come up with some sample scenarios; for example, if a disaster were to happen while your family members were at work, at school or running errands during a normal day. 
  • How would you connect with each other? 
  • Would you text each other, or would calling or emailing be faster? 
  • If you have teens or young adults at home, their natural proclivity may be to send out a text or a tweet on Twitter, to update everyone, including you, on their location or situation. 
Find out the types of communication everyone prefers and then create an emergency communication plan that makes sense for your family.

What If?

Another great discussion to have with your family, especially with school age children, is what they would do if they had to get a hold of you but the cell phone system was out, or what to do if there was an area-wide blackout.    Don’t laugh, that actually happened to us in California!
Kids are so used to technology that they might not have the experience that they need to do things the old school way.   The best way to plan is to give yourselves as many ways as possible to stay connected.  Then if one or two normal methods are unusable, you’ll all simply turn to a different method to reach each other. 

Grab The Sat Phone!

If you’re in an area with frequent emergencies like tornadoes or hurricanes, live out in the country or have a family member in a foreign country, consider getting satellite phones. 
One of our personal favorites is the Iridium Extreme Satellite Phone.  It works in remote areas where there is no cell phone coverage and when cell towers are down.  If you don’t want the expense of a dedicated satellite phone, there are a few devices that turn your smartphone into a satellite phone, like the Iridium GO! Satellite Phone Wi-Fi Hotspot.

Code Word Clearance Or Higher?

Lastly, consider creating a Family Emergency Code or Word.  This is a code or word that only you and your immediate family know. When a family member says it, texts it or emails it to the rest of the family, it signals that they’re in trouble and need help. 
It’s only to be used in extreme emergency and means that everyone needs to drop what they’re doing and establish contact with each other, immediately. 

Find My Family ASAP

Find My Friends is an iPhone app that is designed to let you know at a glance where your friends are.  But you can also use it to immediately locate your children, spouse and loved ones in an emergency.  
All your family has to do is allow you access on their phones, and if need be, you can immediately see where everyone is in real time, complete with map and directions.
For a book’s worth of tips and tools on keeping your family safe, sound, healthy and findable, pick up a copy of our book “At Your Fingertips” in paperback or via instant download.

Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together!

At Your Fingertips | Make Your Smartphone Even Smarter

What if I told you, there was something you have with you right now, that can give you the support, information & ability you need to keep everyone and everything you love safe and sound, PLUS the power to gather your family in seconds no matter where they are. What is it? It’s your smartphone! At Your Fingertips is an easy to read, easy to use guide that turns your smartphone into your very own life preserver. Paperback Or Instant Download

 

Keep Everything You Love Safe | The Book Inspired By The Blog

Keep Everything You Love Safe, is filled with quick, easy, 5 minute steps you can take right now, to get everything that’s important to you organized, safe, sound and accessible. Each section covers a different area, from backing up and fixing family photos, home movies and music, to vital documents, medical and financial information and even getting your digital life in order. Paperback Or Instant Download

Keep The Stuff You Love Safe

How To Save Your Treasured Voice Mail Messages
How To Save Your Home Movies And Videos
How To Archive Your Digital Photos
How To Archive Your Print Photos
How To Make A Home Inventory
How To Get Your Financial Life In Order
How To Preserve Your Family History
How To Back Up Your Facebook Friends List
Turn Your Smartphone Into A Mobile Command Center
How To Backup Your Music, MP3s And Vinyl Albums
How To Access Your Money No Matter Where You Are
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