MIAMI — National Hurricane Preparedness Week runs from May 9 through May 15, and the American Red Cross urges everyone to plan now for any possible dangerous storms this year.
“After back-to-back years of active hurricane seasons that have broken records, this year it’s more important than ever before to get ready now,” said Josett Valdez, CEO for the Red Cross South Florida Region. “Last year, on top of the pandemic, we saw a record 30 named storms with two hitting the southeast before the actual start of hurricane season.”
Getting Ready Is Easy
There are simple steps you can take to be prepared:
• Create an evacuation plan. Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and if you have to evacuate. Coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work and your community’s emergency plans. Plan multiple routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets. If you already have an emergency plan, update it and review with family members so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.
• Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant and pets if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information. Because of the pandemic, include a mask for everyone in your household.
• If you already have a disaster kit, now is the time make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date.
• Be informed. Find out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders.
• Download the free Red Cross Emergency app to help keep you and your loved ones safe with real-time alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and safety advice on hurricanes and other emergencies.
• Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. It’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program website at www.FloodSmart.gov.
As the pandemic continues, the Red Cross has procedures and resources in place to help ensure everyone’s safety, especially when it comes to supporting local communities if a hurricane threatens. The Red Cross is still providing the same types of support after disasters as we always have. This includes making sure people have a safe place to stay, food to eat and resources to help them recover. The Red Cross has put in place additional precautions, in line with CDC recommendations, including social distancing protocols, masks, health screenings and enhanced cleaning procedures.
Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how we support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency plans and the scale of the disaster. In some instances, we may open group shelters, while other times hotels may be more appropriate.
“Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through Nov. 30,” said Valdez. “Get ready now, it’s your best defense.”