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June 13, 2015

Hurricane Help - We Want You to Be Prepared!

With another hurricane season underway, all of us at Ernest Signature Custom Homes want to take the time to remind you that one of the most important things you can do for your family is to protect them when a big storm comes our way. Even though there hasn’t been a hurricane evacuation in the Coastal Empire for almost 20 years, it’s impossible to predict when disaster will strike next. By being ready for an evacuation in advance, you’ll give everyone in your family peace of mind and a greater sense of security. The suggestions below will help you design a hurricane evacuation plan that will help your family get through one of the most frightening natural disasters to hit our area. Once you’ve put together your hurricane plan, be sure to write down each critical task and meeting point and post it where everyone can access it easily. Assign certain responsibilities to each family member and make sure that each person knows what their jobs are and where they should go in case of an emergency.
  1. Make sure to select a meeting place that everyone knows in advance, so that family members can be reunited if separated.
Sometimes family members need to evacuate in separate vehicles, or may be required to depart from different locations. Choose a place for a rendezvous that is familiar to everyone, far enough inland to be outside of the storm’s path. All evacuating family members should know exactly how to get to this place, preferably by two or more different routes. Children should memorize the address of the meeting place, the name of the place or the name of the person you’ll be staying with, and its telephone number. A family emergency sheet such as this one will also help you organize your family for an evacuation.
  1. Prepare for limited communication.
During times of emergency, telephone service may be interrupted and broadcast media may be compromised. Remember that texting is better than calling because it uses fewer resources and reduces the amount of traffic carried over the wireless network during high usage periods. Make sure you have a car charger for every vehicle so that devices stay charged. Enter emergency numbers into your phone and keep up to date with weather apps and ongoing alerts. To protect your phone from water damage, keep it stored in a zippered plastic bag (with all necessary accessories) when not in use. To ensure that you can receive any FM radio updates on the progress of the storm, visit http://freeradioonmyphone.org/ to learn how to use your smartphone as an FM radio receiver.
  1. Make arrangements for your pets.
Appoint one family member the guardian of your animals. Be sure that each pet has a travel kennel, dry food to last for several days and fresh water ready to go at a moment’s notice. Cats should travel with a portable litter box such as a Jonny Cat Kat Kit. NEVER leave your pets unattended in an evacuated home! Be sure to choose a meeting place that will welcome your pets in an emergency. If this isn’t possible, arrange for boarding in a safe area near your meeting place, such as a friend’s or family member’s home, a veterinarian’s office, full-service pet store or kennel. Team up with friends and neighbors to form a safety network for unevacuated pets. If you can’t return home to claim your pet before evacuation is necessary, you’ll know that your “pet buddies” will protect your pet, and you will do the same for them.
  1. Keep important documents or copies of them in a safe, accessible place.
Be sure to have birth certificates, passports, identification, social security cards, copies of all prescriptions and other important documents readily available. You don’t want to waste precious time rounding up these necessary items. Make sure copies of insurance policies are in your emergency packet, and that all insurances are up to date and cover your possessions adequately.
  1. Weatherproof your home before a storm threatens it.
Some homeowners invest in storm shutters or wooden protectors that are cut to the size and shapes of their windows, so that they can be installed quickly. You can also lay in a supply of large cardboard sheets and electrical tape that can be used as well to protect exposed glass. While not as sturdy as wood, covering your windows with these materials will provide some protection to the items in your home that can be damaged by flying glass if they break. Make sure all doors have sturdy deadbolts installed. Brace your garage door for extra support. Although many people think the roof is the most vulnerable part of their home during a storm, it’s actually the garage door. But don’t forget the roof – hurricane straps can protect it from damage. Also be sure that trees are trimmed to remove dead and questionable limbs that can cause damage if they fall. Remove loose or unsecured items from your yard, such as outdoor furniture, trash cans, tools, toys, grills and lawn ornaments. Place them in your garage or a sturdy storage shed. Turn off as many utilities as you can before leaving your home.
  1. Prepare an evacuation kit to take with you – ahead of time!
Spend a Saturday afternoon assembling the items recommended here – you’ll rest easier knowing that everything is ready to go the instant you need it. Purchase large, waterproof tubs with locking lids to store your supplies, which can be pre-packed and stored in a garage, shed, basement or spare room. Food suggestions can be found here and tips for managing your water needs are listed here. Some people prefer to pack some basic camping gear as well.
  1. Make sure your vehicle is in safe operating condition.
Keep your car, van or truck in good repair, and try to keep the tank at least half full at all times, in case a rapid evacuation is necessary. A great checklist for an emergency car kit is available here. Learn the best evacuation routes from your departure locations ahead of time.
  1. Don’t forget entertainment…you’ll probably have some down time to fill!
Simple board games, playing cards, books or puzzles can help both adults and children pass the time during an evacuation. A Yahtzee tournament or gin rummy challenge can take hours to complete successfully!
  1. If you think you have enough batteries stored in your kit…think again and pick up some more.
Useful for radios, flashlights, children’s games, clocks and other small packables, these essential items will be harder and harder to find once an approaching storm is announced.
  1. Don’t panic…
Keeping a cool head is the best way to get through a hurricane unscathed. Take a deep breath, follow your plan, and everything will be fine in the end.
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