How to Prepare for a Hurricane
Disaster Supply Kit
Your Disaster Supply Kit should include the following items:
- Water: Store a seven-day supply (one gallon per person per day), preferably in plastic containers.
- Food: Store at least a seven-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, cooking, or preparation. Have a non-electric can opener.
- First Aid Kit: Prepare a first aid kit that includes prescription medicines (two-week supply).
- Tools and Supplies: Include items such as: a battery-powered radio and flashlight with plenty of extra batteries; extra set of car keys; credit card, cash, or traveler's checks; sanitation supplies; extra set of glasses.
- Clothing and Bedding: Set aside one change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
- Special Items: Include any special items needed for the care of infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
- Remember non-battery operated games for children.
- Car chargers for cell phones
Preparing a Medical Information List/Kit
The most important step to maintaining your health during a disaster is to monitor your symptoms and prepare in advance with a complete medical information list. Information that needs to be included:
- Copies of health insurance cards and the hospitals that you can access
- Information about your medical providers; physician names and phone numbers
- List your allergies and sensitivities, and any communication or cognitive difficulties you may have.
- Medication necessities:
- Names of all medications, including over-the-counter: list dosages and times, the condition for which you take a medication, and the name of the doctor who prescribed it and phone number.
- At least a seven-day supply of essential medications. Work with your doctor(s) to get extra supplies of medications and extra copies of prescriptions.
- Ask about the shelf life of your medications and the temperatures at which they should be stored. This helps ensure that a medicine's effectiveness does not weaken.
- If you take medications (such as methadone, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy) administered to you by a clinic or hospital, ask your provider how to prepare for a disruption.
If you are not an Ochsner patient, check with your medical provider about how your medical records are stored and possibly gaining copies in advance of Hurricane season. In the event of a major disaster, this could be life-saving.
Diabetic patients need to take special precautions and prepare for a possible hurricane evacuation. Click here to download a list of disaster preparedness tips for people with diabetes from the American Diabetes Association.
Hurricane Preparations for Pregnant Women
Women’s Health during Hurricane Season: What Expectant Mothers Need to Know
Making preparations can spare a new mother from unnecessary worry during power outages and storm recovery. With hurricane season in full swing, pregnant women and families with small children need to take extra precautions to ensure that things go smoothly, whether evacuating or staying.
What expecting moms need to know:
- Plan an alternate birth location in the event of road problems or evacuation.
- Have phone numbers and locations for local obstetricians and midwives in the event you cannot reach your regular provider during evacuation.
- If late in pregnancy, have a copy of your prenatal care record and birth bag if evacuating.
- Hurricanes do not directly cause labor to happen. Labor is expected anytime between 37 and 42 weeks and should be planned for accordingly.
- Create a family communication action plan so everyone is clear of what needs to take place before and during evacuation.
- If you seek help at a shelter, immediately notify them of your pregnancy and get information about the location of hospitals in the area.
- Bring with you any medications, including prenatal vitamins and prescriptions.
- Do all you can to reduce stress – stress is a major factor in preterm labor.
Learn the signs of preterm labor and contact help immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Contractions every 10 minutes or more
- Leaking vaginal fluid or bleeding
- Feeling that baby is pushing down
- Low, dull backache
- Abdominal cramps
It is essential to keep providing healthy nutrition for your baby during a hurricane evacuation.
Tips for feeding your baby:
- Create a food hurricane kit either at home or for a car ride out to safer ground.
- Make sure mom has enough clean water to drink and high-protein snacks.
- For babies less than 6 months old, breast milk is the sole source of recommended nutrition. Breastfeeding is always available and sterile.
- Pack a battery operated quality pump or hand pump, clean storage bottles or bags, and a method of freezing or cold storage. Pumped milk will last about eight days refrigerated; previously frozen milk will last about 24 hours in the fridge.
- Pack at least three full days and nights worth of pre-washed bottles, nipples and formula.
Hurricane Preparations for Children
How to Help Your Children during Hurricane Season
Completing a safety plan can help your child feel a sense of control, security, confidence, and independence.
Click here to download a wallet card to complete with your Family Emergency Plan.
How You Can Help
- Let children know they can talk to you about their fears. Be calm and listen to what they have to say. Never force children to talk if they aren’t ready.
- Don’t talk about your own fears in front of children. They need to know that you are calm.
- You may want to keep your children away from TV or radio news covering the hurricane. Too much news is scary for children.
- If you evacuate, try to keep things normal. Try to keep the same bedtimes, mealtimes, and rules.
- Help your children deal with fears by drawing pictures, writing in a journal, listening to music, singing or exercising. Talk with your children about the family’s hurricane plan.
Your children may act:
- Scared - It’s normal to be afraid of hurricanes. Children may become more scared of being alone, going to sleep, or being away from you. Sometimes frightened children act younger than they are – even bedwetting or using baby talk.
- Angry - Some children get mad because they don’t understand what’s happening. They may not know a better way to show you they are afraid. Children may talk back, refuse to listen or even hit.
- Sick - Children may feel sick when they get scared. They may have stomach aches, problems eating or problems sleeping.
- Have a plan. Children will feel prepared and relieved if they feel the adults in their lives have taken reasonable precautions to protect them from harm.
- Parents should manage their own anxiety. If the adults are anxious the children will be also. Calm, supportive reactions from parents in anticipation of evacuations/crises will go a long way to alleviate stress responses in children.
- Monitor media exposure. Parents need information, but 24/7 television news exposure is going overboard, and can be overwhelming and anxiety-provoking especially for young children.
My Hurricane Safety Plan: A Child's Checklist
This worksheet complements the Parent Guide to My Hurricane Safety Plan and is a tool for parents and caregivers to use with their children when discussing how to prepare if a hurricane is coming. My Hurricane Safety Plan was developed by clinicians and staff from the New Orleans Children’s Health Project and was supported by a grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Hurricane Preparations for the Elderly
Comforting the Elderly
- Provide strong and persistent verbal reassurance
- Accompany or arrange for companions
- Give special attention to suitable relocation, ideally in familiar surroundings with friends and family
- Help re-establish medication regimens. Many older persons may rely on drugs to keep emotional balance or treat chronic illnesses. Helpers should recognize the need for obtaining early information on.
- Recognize medical concerns:
- Arthritis may prevent an elder from standing in line.
- Medications can cause confusion or a greater susceptibility to problems such as dehydration.
- Memory disorders can cause communication problems
- Extremes of heat or cold have marked effects upon older persons
Hurricane Preparations for Pets
Contact your veterinarian or local humane society for information on preparing your pets for an emergency.
Before the Disaster
Make sure that your pets are current on their vaccinations. Pet shelters may require proof of vaccines.
- Have a current photograph
- Keep a collar with identification on your pet and have a leash on hand to control your pet.
- Have a properly-sized pet carrier for each animal - carriers should be large enough for the animal to stand and turn around.
- Plan your evacuation strategy and don't forget your pet! Specialized pet shelters, animal control shelters, veterinary clinics and friends and relatives out of harm's way are ALL potential refuges for your pet during a disaster.
If you plan to shelter your pet - work it into your evacuation route planning.
During the Disaster
Animals brought to a pet shelter are required to have: Proper identification collar and rabies tag, proper identification on all belongings, a carrier or cage, a leash, an ample supply of food, water and food bowls, any necessary medications, specific care instructions and news papers or trash bags for clean-up.
- Bring pets indoor well in advance of a storm - reassure them and remain calm.
- Pet shelters will be filled on first come, first served basis. Call ahead and determine availability.
After the Disaster
- Walk pets on a leash until they become re-oriented to their home - often familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and pets could easily be confused and become lost. Also, downed power lines, reptiles brought in with high water and debris can all pose a threat for animals after a disaster.
- If pets cannot be found after a disaster, contact the local animal control office to find out where lost animals can be recovered. Bring along a picture of your pet if possible.
- After a disaster animals can become aggressive or defensive - monitor their behavior.
Don't forget your pet when preparing a family disaster plan.
Pet Disaster Supply Kit
- Proper identification including immunization records
- Ample supply of food and water
- A carrier or cage
- Muzzle, collar and leash
- The HUMANE SOCIETY Disaster Center
- FEMA - Animals and Emergencies
- Locate PET-FRIENDLY Hotels & Motels