How to create a severe weather family plan

Published: Jul. 19, 2019 at 5:39 PM EDT
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One of the most important things you can do is to prepare a family plan before a hurricane threatens.

If you already have a family plan from previous years, it should be reviewed thoroughly by everyone just to make sure each family member knows what needs to be done if tropical weather threatens.

  • Review your insurance coverage to make sure you know what your policy will cover and what it won't cover.
  • Clear loose and/or clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed of deadwood.
  • Learn safe routes inland in case you are forced to evacuate your home.
  • Learn locations of official shelters in case you are not able to leave the area in time. Make plans for a special needs medical shelter now. Once an emergency situation is declared, you can call the DHEC Information Line at (843) 953-2450. This number should only be used before a storm. Keep in mind that a shelter should be your last resort.
  • Store plywood cut to windows, check existing shutters or purchase hurricane shutters. Find out about retrofitting your home.
  • Check to see that you have basic must-have supplies and stock up on what you need. Create a basic supply kit which you can either use in your home or take with you if you need to evacuate.
  • If you live in a manufactured home, check the home's tie-downs.
  • Purchase battery backup chargers for mobile devices. If power is out, you won't be able to charge your phone or tablet.
  • Teach your children how and when to call 911 and where to tune for emergency information.
  • Develop a communication in plan in case your family members are separated during a disaster.
  • Notify your neighbors and/or an out-of-area friend of family member of your evacuation plans in case someone needs to get in touch with you or wants to ensure you're safe if a storm is approaching.

If you have pets, you may need to make special arrangements to make sure they remain safe during storms, too.

  • Make arrangements now to stay with pet-friendly relatives or friends in case of an evacuation. Most shelters will not accept pets.
  • Purchase a kennel, crate or carrier and practice putting it together as a trial to make sure you understand how it works, then store and transport disassembled.
  • Allow your pet to become familiar with the kennel or crate at home before a disaster.
  • Stock a supply of plastic bags to make pet clean-up easier.
  • Have a supply of dry dog food ready, since it is easier to transport and use than canned food. You should have between one and two pounds per 10 pounds of the animal's weight.
  • Have food and water bowls you can take with you.
  • Make sure your pet has a collar with updated tags and is micro-chipped. Have a photo of each of your pets because it will be extremely important if your pet becomes lost.
  • Have copies of your current pet health records and vaccination records.
  • Other items you may need: a chain and stake, newspaper for dogs or a litter box for cats; bath towels, garbage bags and any medication.
  • Stock up on water for your pet, too. Figure to have 1 gallon per 10 pounds of a dog's weight or 1/2 gallon per 10 pounds of a cat's weight.

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