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Emergency Preparedness – Hurricanes

Emergency Preparedness – Hurricanes

Hurricane season is officially here with the arrival of Hurricane Hermine last night in Florida. I realized as I lay in bed trying to go to sleep that I had yet to do a post about the challenges unique to Hurricanes. I published a similar post about snow last winter if you’d like to check it out. Hurricanes, however, are a different beast. The challenges commonly presented include:

  1. Power outages
  2. High winds and structural damage
  3. Flooding

The number one thing to remember with a medically complex child or even an adult that needs assistance is to evacuate the moment you’re asked to do so. If you’re new to living in an area visited by Hurricanes, these are not just rough storms. They destroy large swaths of property. There will not be power, and you’re unlikely to have fresh water. If you insist on staying after the evacuation order you are taking your life and the life of your charge into your own hands.

It’s not enough to simply have enough supplies on hand in this situation. You also need to be able to carry everything with you. It may take several days for help to come, and your current place of shelter may not hold. You’ll need to be able to travel to higher ground. The baggage to carry includes the person you’re caring for, 1 gallon of water per day for you and your charge, and whatever food you need.

It’s tempting to climb higher in your home as the house begins to flood. That’s not a good idea because as the water rises, it becomes harder to leave. It may sound practical to slip out of a window, but it’s not when flood waters are churning right outside. Flood waters may also surge coming up a significant amount suddenly with no warning. Under no circumstances do you climb into your attic!  There’s no way to escape, and you will not be able to break through the roof.

Once forced out of your home, you need to find shelter where you can and outlast the storm. If you have a boat, you can use it to get on top of your house. Once there you’ll want to pull the boat out of the water and use it as shelter. The flood waters will be too dangerous to ride through the storm as the water spreads out over the landscape and into houses, streams, and roads. Of course, if your home becomes submerged you have no better options.

Wrap any battery-powered medical equipment, radios, or flashlights in plastic bags for it to have a chance of staying dry in the event of a splash. There’s no real way to protect any of it if it becomes submerged. If you have to choose something to leave behind then leave behind your food first. You’re likely to see someone before you starve. Under no circumstances should you leave behind your fresh water.

It’s possible for someone who is healthy and resourceful to survive a Hurricane, although even then you’re still looking at a high risk of death. If you become injured at any point you’re more or less helpless. As a caregiver of someone else, it’s your responsibility to put them first and leave. You may think you can keep them safe but in a storm of this magnitude, it’s simply not possible. When you get the order, please PLEASE evacuate!

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