Actions to Prepare for Extreme Weather
Although we cannot control the increase in severe storms, we can take steps to analyze the risks and prepare. Here are three steps toward that goal:
Step 1: Assess the Risks
Analyze the risks you can expect in your area. For example, if climate change projections suggest you may experience increased flooding, you would want to know:
- How bad might the flooding get?
- Do we live in a floodplain?
- Will current bridges, rivers, and channels handle the floodwaters?
- If not, what can we do to minimize the loss of life and property?
- What critical infrastructure (utilities, railroad lines, transportation corridors, water and food supplies, emergency services) might suffer?
- What resources, plans, and procedures does my community have in place?
To support this assessment process, our organization’s ClimateWise services are available to provide communities with climate change projections for specific regions and help them facilitate multi-stakeholder workshops to begin planning for climate change impacts.
Step 2: Make an Emergency Plan
Gather all involved (family, friends, neighbors, work colleagues) and discuss what you learned about the extreme weather risks in your area. Discuss with them what you would do if family members are not home when a warning is issued. Additionally, your plan should address the following:
- Escape routes
- Family communications
- Utility shut-off and safety
- Insurance and vital records
- Special needs
- Caring for animals
- Safety Skills
For more details, see the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) manual, “Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness.”
Step 3: Prepare an Emergency Kit
Most people rush to the store upon the first news of disaster and leave sorely deprived of what they really need in the emergency. FEMA recommends the following items for your disaster supplies kit:
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Three-day supply of water (one gallon of water per person, per day)
- Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit and manual
- Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper)
- Matches and waterproof container
- Extra clothing
- Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener
- Photocopies of credit and identification cards
- Cash and coins
- Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries
- Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers
- Other items to meet your unique family needs
- Complete change of clothing and shoes for each person
- Cold weather preparations (coat, long pants, long sleeve shirt, sturdy shoes, hat, sleeping bag)
Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe to use when needed. Here are some FEMA tips to keep your supplies in good condition:
- Keep canned foods in a dry place where the temperature is cool.
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life.
- Change stored food and water supplies every six months. Be sure to write the date on all containers.
- Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as an unused trashcan, camping backpack, or duffel bag.
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