Preparing for Hurricane Season 2005

As the height of this year's hurricane season begins, some coastal residents are still rebuilding their lives following last year's unprecedented storms. Weather forecasters say this will be an even busier hurricane season than anticipated, and the American Red Cross is urging families and business owners to take the warning seriously and begin preparing now.

Every household and business should build a disaster supplies kit and develop a communication plan well in advance of an impending storm.

As disaster can strike quickly and without warning, it is extremely important to develop a communication plan so that family members and coworkers know you are safe in times of disaster. During a hurricane, however, basic services including electricity and phone service may be disrupted. Due to widespread outages, service may not be restored for several days. Your initiative to establish contact quickly via phone, e-mail or text message to a designated person will save your loved ones from making multiple calls to find you. This simple act can help alleviate their anxiety about your well-being and reduce the overwhelming number of phone calls that often times overload the system following a disaster.

Contacting Family or Coworkers

  • Plan ahead for the possibility of becoming separated from your family and coworkers.
  • Because local phone lines may be out of service or overloaded after a disaster, it's often easier to call out of the area.
  • Choose an out-of-town contact that each family member or workers will call or email to check in with should a disaster occur. Your selected contact should be located far enough away that they would be unlikely to be directly affected by the same event, and they should know they are the chosen contact.
  • All of your family or coworkers should have the phone number for the contact as well as each other's phone numbers and email addresses. You should all agree to call the out-of-town contact to report your whereabouts and welfare. Consider having a laminated wallet-sized card made to carry with you at all times.
  • Many people overwhelm telephone lines when emergencies happen, and it might take a while to get through phone lines.

Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit

Gather enough emergency supplies to meet your needs for at least three days. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy to carry, water-resistant containers. It's also a good idea to keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car. Your disaster supplies kit should include:

  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and ready-to-eat canned goods, such as tuna fish, peanut butter, crackers, canned fruit, juice boxes, etc. Please remember that you want to replace stored water and food every six months.
  • A battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
  • A manual can opener
  • Copies of important documents, including birth certificates, insurance policies and social security cards. Your original documents should be secured in a locked box or safety deposit box.
  • Comfortable clothing and footwear
  • One blanket or sleeping bag per person
  • A first aid kit, including prescription medicines
  • Tools, including wrenches to turn off utilities
  • Extra sets of car keys
  • Cash/Credit cards
  • An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses

With two hurricanes making landfall so early in the hurricane season, and seven to nine more predicted, the American Red Cross is reflecting on Hurricane Season 2004 as the organization continues to prepare for the height of Hurricane Season 2005.

In Florida alone last year, more than 315,000 homes were affected by the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. Of that number, roughly 80,000 homes were either destroyed or suffered major damage.

Between August 12, 2004 and October 25, 2004, approximately 424,000 people in the United States and its territories sought refuge from the storms at Red Cross shelters. More than 16 million meals and snacks were provided during that same time period. The number of Red Cross workers helping victims of the disasters reached nearly 35,000.

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