UWFK’s new AmeriCorps VISTA member, Rebecca Medicine Eagle, has been serving during times of disaster in communities across the nation for more than 25 years. Here's what she says about preparing for Hurricanes:
Many people are currently tracking the progress of Hurricane Matthew, including the size, force and trajectory of the storm. It's very important to keep track of the weather outlook and know the difference between a Storm Advisory, Watch, and Warning. You can do this by listening to a NOAA Weather Radio and watching the National Weather Service or by signing up for Monroe County Emergency Management alerts at: http://www.monroecountyem.com/.
The next best thing you can do is build a disaster supply kit!
Your kit should include:
· any special medications for members of your household
· 1 gallon of water per person and pets, per day (for 7 days)
· non-perishable food per person and pets, per day (for 7 days)
· a written list of family member's phone numbers
· spare power supply and cords for cell phones
· a change of clothes per person
· personal ID (birth certificates, passports) in a water-proof envelope
· personal hygiene items
· a first-aid kit
· a small amount of cash, such as 20 one dollar bills and a $10 roll of quarters
· comfort items for children (favorite stuffed animals & photo albums help)
After your kit is built it's a great idea to check it on the first of every month- add or refresh items as needed.
You can take several precautions in and around your home, too! Bring in or secure anything lightweight- such as lawn furniture, children's toys, bikes and lawn ornaments. Close all doors and windows and check the storm rating on your windows. Put up your hurricane shutters, or use plywood to cover glass. Unplug non-vital appliances and turn off your propane tank. If a power outage is likely, consider dialing your fridge and freezer to the coldest setting, helping the food inside to possibly last longer.
Make a disaster plan with your family, and practice it! Where will you all meet in the event you are separated? If this does happen, you can list yourself with the American Red Cross 'Safe and Well' program and let your family and friends know you’re okay: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/.
It's very important to keep track of and follow all evacuation orders and fill your vehicle up with gas. Avoid flooded, washed out bridges and roads. My family motto is: hope for the best but plan for the worst! In all the many disasters I've helped in, I've never been over-prepared!