You likely already know how to prepare for a hurricane each year. But this year, with a heavier-than-usual storm forecast and a pandemic to consider, it’s more important than ever to prepare early. With these concerns in mind, we're sharing some key hurricane prep guidelines to help you feel calm, confident and informed about the season ahead.
2020 Hurricane Season Predictions
The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1, 2020. This year’s hurricane forecast predicts 18 named storms, of which nine are predicted to be hurricanes. It’s believed that of those, four will be major hurricanes — a storm that is Category 3 or higher (115+ mph winds). This number is much higher than the usual prediction (13 storms). The country averages one to two hurricane landfalls during an average season. With elevated predictions this year, it’s especially important to ensure your family is adequately prepared.
Preparing for Hurricane Season During a Pandemic
You’ll also want to be sure to begin planning now, as the pandemic has impacted available supplies in stores, caused shipping delays and impacted how you’ll be able to shop and stock up safely. Your family will need to right-size your expectations about hurricane prep this season, meaning you should be prepared to:
Stock Up on Supplies Now to Account For Delays
Because of how the pandemic has affected the availability of the supplies you’d normally have easy access to, start ordering and buying what you can now. You may need to make several trips to stores, or multiple online orders. It’s possible you might not be able to get everything at one time. We recommend gathering what you can find from this list as soon as possible:
- Batteries for flashlights, radios, fans, etc.
- Battery-operated or hand-crank radios
- Bottled water
- Diapers and wet wipes
- Disposable plates, cups and utensils
- Generators and fuel
- Non-perishable food items
- Non-electric coolers
- Pet food
- Portable phone chargers
- Tarps and tie-down kits
- Toilet paper
Many of the items you may have gathered to shelter at home during the coronavirus pandemic are also useful as part of a hurricane supplies kit, including non-perishable food, extra pet food and even books and games for your family. You may already have some of these supplies at home. An easy place to start preparing is by evaluating the emergency supplies you might have on hand. Then, use the list above to fill out your essentials. Learn more about assembling a disaster supplies kit here.
Wait Longer for Items or Make Substitutions
Remember that as you begin to prepare, others in your area will be too. As our supply chains are already stressed, aim to gather what essentials you can, and look for substitutions for your favorite items or brands. You should also plan to pay more for emergency supplies, or items that are already hard to find.
As for how much you should stock up, emergency managers recommend storing at least a three-day supply of food and water for each of your family members (and each of your pets) so you're ready for storm season.
Gather Your Medications and Essential First-Aid Supplies
If you take medications, be sure you have a two-week supply on hand in case your pharmacy closes or becomes unreachable. Every year, take a look at your first aid kit and restock it with new supplies, like aspirin or other pain relievers, antacids, bandages and gauze, a thermometer, scissors and antiseptics.
Certain products like hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol (which are critical medical supplies you’ll need after a hurricane) are difficult to find because of the pandemic. To ensure you have these items, you may need to make several grocery store trips and be prepared to pay extra for these items.
If you or a loved one have special needs, you'll need to make a plan for this as well, including a place to shelter. Work with your physician before a storm if you have a disability, depend on an electronic medical device, oxygen or other equipment, or need in-home health care. You can also sign up for your county’s Special Needs Registry, which will allow county officials to help you in the event of a natural disaster. Expectant mothers who are two weeks away or less from their delivery date or are considered high-risk may want to make special arrangements with their doctor or hospital.
Plan for What to Do if a Family Member Becomes Sick During a Storm
As part of your hurricane prep, plan ahead now for how you’ll shelter during the storm, especially if a family member doesn’t feel well. If a loved one has COVID-19, they’ll need their own room to stay in, even during the storm, to keep the rest of the family safe. Even if everyone is healthy now, plan out a space where a family member who’s sick can shelter safely during the storm. People who get sick will need to know what happens if they get coronavirus, and how to take care of themselves at home while they self-isolate from family.
Prepare Now For an Evacuation
Be sure to plan for what to do if evacuation orders happen. If possible, identify a place to stay where social distancing would be possible. You’ll need to bring your supplies with you while evacuating (including your emergency supplies and pet supplies), as it will likely be unclear what stores will be open and where.
Also, communicate with your family about how you'll all stay in touch if you're not home or together when an emergency occurs. It’s important to remember that no one, regardless of ability or need, will be able to shelter at the hospital before, during or after a hurricane.
Plan How You’ll Get Care During the Storm
We're always here for you, but when conditions are most dangerous, you may not be able to travel to us. By downloading the AdventHealth app, you can be seen in real-time by a licensed medical provider via a secure video connection.
Simply download the app for free on any smartphone or tablet and then follow the directions to request a video visit with an AdventHealth provider.
Start Preparing Now to Stay Safe During Hurricane Season
As this year’s hurricane season presents unique challenges for preparedness, it’s essential to start your hurricane prep now. While it may be difficult to do so ahead of time — and especially during the pandemic — it’s worthwhile for you and your family’s safety.
If you or a loved one needs medical attention after a hurricane or other weather event, visit an AdventHealth Centra Care urgent care location or schedule an appointment online.