Food & Drink
See Also: Hurricanes
Prepare a Family Disaster Plan Now
A well-thought-out plan of action for you and your family
can go a long way toward reducing potential suffering from any type of disaster that could strike. With hurricane season upon us, preparing your family disaster plan is the first step.
Household emergency plans should be kept simple. The best emergency plans are those that are easy to remember.
Maintaining a link to the outside can be crucial. Keep a battery-operated radio and extra batteries on hand as part of your disaster supply kit. Make sure family members know where the radio is kept. Be sure to include pets in your family disaster plan.
Post emergency numbers (fire, police, ambulance) by the phone. Teach children how to call 911 for help.
Teach responsible family members how to turn off the utilities in your home.
Identify family meeting places in case you are separated. Choose a place in a building or park outside your neighborhood. Everyone should be clear about this location. Develop an emergency communication plan. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the family's contact. Make sure everyone knows the telephone number of this contact.
Be familiar with escape routes in case you need to evacuate your neighborhood. Plan several escape routes for different contingencies.
For more information visit www.ready.gov on the Internet or, for printed information, call 800-BE-READY.
ACTIONS TO TAKE BEFORE -- AND AFTER -- A HURRICANE
The hurricane warning system is increasingly effective in providing warnings in time for people to move inland when hurricanes threaten.
However, it is becoming more difficult to evacuate people from densely populated areas. Roads are easily overcrowded, particularly during summer tourist season.
The problem is compounded by the complacency of people who do not understand the awesome power of the storm.
Complacency and delayed action could result in needless loss of life and damage to property.
Before a Hurricane Strikes
Plan a safe evacuation route that will take you 20-50 miles inland. Contact your local emergency management office or Red Cross chapter and ask for the community preparedness plan.
Have disaster supplies on hand, including:
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries
• First-aid kit
• Emergency food and water
• Nonelectric can opener
• Essential medicines
• Cash and credit cards
• Sturdy shoes and a change of clothing
• Copies of important papers, including bank accounts, insurance and household inventory records
Make sure your family goes over the family disaster plan (see page 2).
Make plans for protecting your house, especially the roof, windows and doors (see page 4).
Trim dead or weak branches from trees.
Check into flood insurance. Homeowners policies do not cover damage from flooding that often accompanies hurricanes. Call your local insurance agent for information or the National Flood Insurance Program at 800-720-1090 (see page 6).
When a Hurricane Watch or Warning Is Issued
Listen to radio or television for hurricane progress reports. Follow instructions if ordered to evacuate.
Check your emergency supplies. Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles and cooking utensils.
Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools; anchor objects that cannot be brought inside but that could be wind-tossed. Remove outdoor antennas, if possible.
Secure your home by installing hurricane shutters or precut plywood.
Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings if not instructed by officials to turn off utilities.
Fuel your car. Review evacuation routes and gather your disaster supply kit in case you are instructed to evacuate.
Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container.
After a Hurricane
Return home only after authorities say it is safe to do so. Keep tuned to your local radio or tv station for recovery information.
Beware of downed or loose power lines.
Report them immediately to the power company, police or fire department.
Enter your home with caution. Open windows and doors to ventilate or dry your home. Do not use candles or open flames in doors. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage.
Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, quickly leave the building and leave the doors open. Call the gas company.
Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or frayed wires, turn off electricity at the main fuse box. If you have to step in water to reach the electric box, call an electrician for advice.
Check for sewage and water-line damage. If you suspect there is such damage, call the water company. Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until notified it is safe to do so.
Take pictures of the damage for insurance claims and contact your service agent.
If Evacuation Is Necessary
If officials order evacuation, leave as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges.
Secure your home. Unplug appliances and turn off electricity and the main water valve. If time permits, elevate furniture to protect it from flooding or move it to a higher floor.
Take your pre-assembled emergency supplies and warm, protective clot
Surviving the Storm is a special edition of the Recovery Times newsletter, developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/FEMA.
Copies of Surviving the Storm are available on the FEMA Web site: www.fema.gov
Aileen Cooper, Editor, DHS/FEMA
Office of Public Affairs.
STRENGTHENING YOUR HOME
After Hurricane Andrew, which caused large- scale destruction in parts of southern Florida in 1992, a team of experts examined homes that failed and ones that survived. They found four areas that should be checked for vulnerability to strong winds: the roof, windows, doors and garage doors. Measures can be taken to strengthen each of
these areas of your home.
The roof of your house is most vulnerable to damage from high winds. Proper roof con-struction is essential. A small investment made before a storm hits can save thousands in future damage.
The connection between the roof and walls must be strong enough to resist the "uplift" effect of strong winds. Roof trusses or rafters should be tied properly to exterior walls with metal hurricane connectors or straps.
Have a building professional use specially designed metal connectors to attach the roof to wall plates, which are already well connected to wall studs.
You may choose instead to use metal strapping or connectors to tie the roof truss to both the wall top plate and the wall studs (see Figure 1). Special connectors also are available to attach a roof to a masonry wall.
Gable-end roofs are more susceptible to damage from high winds than hip or flat roofs. Bracing for trusses and rafters can add protection to your home.
n choosing the appropriate connectors for your walls, check with lumber-supply outlets, a building professional or local building and planning officials.
Installing storm shutters over all exposed windows and other glass surfaces is one of the easiest and most effective ways to protect your home. Cover all windows, French doors, sliding glass doors and skylights.
There are many types of manufactured storm shutters available. Before installing shutters, check with local building officials to find out whether or not a permit is required.
Plywood shutters that you make yourself, if installed properly, can offer a high level of protection from flying debris during a hurricane. Plywood shutters can be installed on all types of homes.
If you have double-entry doors, one is active and one is inactive. Check to see how the fixed half is secured top and bottom. The bolts or pins that secure most doors are not strong enough to withstand hurricane winds.
Check with your local building supplies retailer to find out what kind of bolt system will work for your door. Doors with windows will need additional protection from flying debris.
Double-wide (two-car) garage doors can pose a problem during hurricanes. Because they are so large, they wobble as high winds blow and can pull out of their tracks or collapse from wind pressure.
Certain parts of the country have building codes requiring garage doors that withstand high winds. Some garage doors can be strengthened with retrofit kits. Check with your local building supplies dealer.
More detailed information on protecting your home from wind is available in the FEMA publication Against the Wind:Protecting Your Home from Hurricane Wind Damage. You will find it on the FEMA web site: www.fema.gov/pdf/hazards/agstwnd.pdf
MOBILE HOMES REQUIRE SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS
Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable to hurricane-force winds. Anchor the mobile home with over-the-top, or frame, ties. When a storm threatens, do what you can to secure your home, then take refuge with friends or relatives or at a public shelter.
Before you leave, take the following precautions:
• Pack breakables in boxes and put them on the floor.
• Remove mirrors and tape them. Wrap mirrors and lamps in blankets and place them in the bathtub or shower.
• Install hurricane shutters or precut plywood on all windows.
• Shut off utilities and disconnect electricity, sewer and water lines. Shut off propane tanks and leave them outside after anchoring them securely.
• Store awnings, folding furniture, trashcans and other loose outdoor objects.
MAKE PLANS FOR YOUR PETS
In planning for the hurricane season, do not forget your pets. If you evacuate your home, do not leave pets behind.
The Humane Society of the United States urges pet owners to make arrangements to evacuate their animals.
Be sure you have up-to-date identification tags, a pet carrier and a leash for them. Assemble a disaster kit that you can provide to whomever assumes care of your pet during a disaster.
Most emergency shelters will not accept pets. In the event of evacuation, make alternative arrangements for pets, such as with family friends, veterinarians or kennels in safe locations. Send medicine, food, feeding information and other supplies with them.
PLANNING COULD SAVE YOUR BUSINESS
If a hurricane is threatening the area where your business is located, you can take
actions ahead of time that will save damage and lost productivity.
Clear out areas with extensive glass frontage as much as possible. If you have shutters, use them; otherwise, use precut plywood to board up doors and windows.
Remove outdoor hanging signs.
Bring inside or secure any objects that might become airborne and cause damage in strong winds.
Secure showcases. Use plywood to protect glass showcases or, if possible, turn the glass side toward an inside wall.
Store as much merchandise as high as possible off the floor, especially goods that could be in short supply after the storm.
Move merchandise that cannot be stored away from glass and cover it with tarpulins or heavy plastic.
Secure all goods in warehouses off the floor, and place sandbags in spaces where water could enter.
Remove papers from lower drawers of desks and file cabinets and place them in plastic bags or containers on top of the cabinets.
Turn off water heaters, stoves, pilot lights and other burners.
DANGER: FLASH FLOODS
Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are automobile related.
Water weighs 62.4 lbs. per cubic foot and typically flows downstream at 6 to 12 mph.
When a vehicle stalls in water, the water's momentum is transferred to the car. For each foot water rises, 500 lbs. of lateral force are applied to the car.
But the biggest factor is buoyancy. For each foot that water rises up the side of the car, the car displaces 1500 lbs. of water. In effect, the car weighs 1500 lbs. less for each foot water rises.
Two feet of water will carry away most automobiles.
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