As August arrives here in West Central Florida, it is getting close to the peak of Hurricane Season. If you have not already put together your family’s “To Go Kit”, now is the time to get down to the chore and get it done.
There are plenty of guides published by various organizations such as TV Stations, County Governments and others to tell you what you should think about putting in your kit. Here are a few ideas that you may have overlooked.
Gather up your important papers such as insurance policy numbers, mortgage information, birth certificates, credit cards, bank account numbers and phone numbers and addresses for relatives and friends that you may need to contact if you have to evacuate the area.
Whether you choose to go to a shelter locally or move further away to a relative’s or a friend’s home for the duration of the weather emergency, make sure you have an adequate supply of any medications you need. If you are in unfamiliar territory and your prescriptions need refilling, the pharmacist is not able to just take your word that you need a particular medication. The pharmacist needs to see the prescription or at least find it on the drugstore chain’s computerized listings. Make sure you have the prescription numbers along with the pills.
Returning home after the emergency, most evacuees will find their house intact and livable. Some however may find a debris field where all those important papers and the house that used to protect them. At this point it is going to be much easier to begin the recovery process if you can give the insurance company your policy number as well as the address of the house that used to be.
Even if your abode was undamaged, you are most likely going to be without power for at least several days. No power means no Internet, no telephone, no TV. Your cell phone may not be of much use either. When cellular systems get overloaded, they shut down and your fancy smart phone is just another paperweight until things return to normal.
With all of the normal communications systems out of service, the capabilities of amateur radio will still be there, providing the ability for you to send at least a brief message to kith and kin elsewhere. That brief message will be hard to deliver
if you cannot remember your relative’s telephone number and address without
referring to the data on your now dead I-Phone or address/phone book for those
of us old enough to remember the pre-I-phone days.
After the hurricane has passed through and the shelters are empty, you are still going to have to eat and obtain shelter. Often this will require an outlay of cash. If the store does not have power, they cannot process your debit card or credit card so they want cash only. Make sure you put some in your wallet from the ATM while it is still functional.
Identification is also vital. Often unless you can prove you are who you say you are to the authority guarding your neighborhood, they will not let you in. A driver’s license is usually good enough but they may want to see more if the address on your driver’s license isn’t up to date, as sometimes happens with a recent move.
Along with all of the aforementioned items, you did remember to pack some extra clothes and at least a few energy bars for every member of your family, didn’t you? Surviving for several days in the same wet smelly clothes you left in gets real old real fast, and you can’t count on the shelter to have any more than the absolute basics when it comes to food.
The old and hoary motto of the Boy Scouts is just as pertinent as it ever was: “Be Prepared”. If you are not, the aftermath of a severe weather emergency is going to be much more difficult than you can ever imagine. Take a few minutes to get your kit and your plan together and things will go much better.