Although we can track hurricanes as they form, there is still a level of unpredictability once they hit. Last year, Hurricane Harvey left communities in Texas devastated and incapacitated for weeks. We were fortunate enough to partner with Reliant, our sister company based in Houston, to provide solar panels, power stations, and lights to those living in the wake of that storm. In case you missed our video recap, check it out here on our Share the Sun blog.
This year, as we head into hurricane season, we want to help you and those you know living in hurricane-prone areas to be a little more prepared. To do this, we asked members of the Reliant team to share the steps they take to ensure their families are prepared and safe before, during, and after the storm.
BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE STORM
- Pay attention to the news media and instructions from public officials.
BEFORE THE STORM
- Identify a safe area to take refuge and secure any outdoor items that could become airborne during the storm.
- Develop and practice your family communication plan. Identify an out-of-state contact that everyone can call if the family gets separated and designate a familiar emergency meeting location.
- Review your insurance coverage and take pictures of your home, building and/or office – inside and out.
- Gather necessary supplies: water, First Aid Kit, flashlights, tarps, plastic bags, tape, sandbags, shutters, plywood, hand tools, generator, brooms, mops, towels and batteries.
- Fully charge cell phones, laptops, portable power stations and any other electronics, and top off your vehicle’s gas tank.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes, such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
DURING THE STORM
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- Bring along books, tablets, or toys to keep children occupied – don’t forget to bring backup power and lights along to keep devices charged up.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed in case windows shatter from high winds or debris. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
AFTER THE STORM
- If separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact FEMA or the American Red Cross.
- Drive only if necessary. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects such as downed electrical wires and weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks. Report damaged power lines to your utility company.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to your local utility company.
- Walk around the outside of your home and check for any structural damage. Take pictures of any damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your home inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around the building, or if your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Never use a gasoline generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and linger for hours, even after the generator is turned off. Consider using a gasoline-free portable power station to supply backup power to your home instead.
- If you are unable to return home and have immediate housing needs, text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 77005).