Boston, MA - As the 2001 Hurricane Season begins, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that families take mitigation measures that address both the wind and water threats brought by hurricanes. Residents in hurricane-risk areas should consider obtaining flood insurance and elevating utilities or appliances, especially in a basement. Residents along the coast should also consider installing hurricane straps and hurricane shutters, and cutting back trees that might fall on the house in high winds.
New weather forecasting technology provides communities with a warning before a hurricane strike. Hurricanes can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. Where will your family be when disaster strikes? They could be anywhere - at work, at school or in the car. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children are safe?
" Families can and do cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility, " advises Kenneth L. Horak, Acting Regional Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) office in Boston.
FEMA, the National Weather Service, and the American Red Cross urge each and every family to develop a family disaster plan. The key to preparedness is having a plan. Here are the steps to follow to create and implement a family disaster plan:
- Learn your community's warning signals and evacuation plans
- It is a good idea to pick two places to meet: right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency.
- Have a plan for your pets - be aware that pets are not allowed in American Red Cross shelters. Other arrangements should be secured beforehand.
- Teach your children how and when to call 911.
- Have your family learn basic safety measures, such as CPR and First Aid.
- Show each family member 1) how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity at the main switches, and 2) how to use a fire extinguisher.
- Determine the best escape routes from your room and find the safe spots in your home for different types of disasters.
- Conduct a home hazard hunt in which you inspect your home for items that can move, fall, break or cause a fire, and correct them.
You should have a Disaster Supplies Kit in your home and car. Your kit should include enough supplies to meet your needs for at least three days.
- A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that will not spoil
- One change of clothing and footwear per person
- One blanket or sleeping bag per person
- A first aid kit, including prescription medicines
- Emergency tools, including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
- An extra set of car keys
- Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members
- An extra pair of glasses
By becoming aware of possible disasters in your area and planning accordingly, your family is taking a giant step toward survival. By sharing this information with your neighborhood, you are helping other families prepare.
For additional information on disaster planning and preparing please contact your local Emergency Management Agency, local Red Cross Chapter or visit FEMA's web site.