Lessons Hurricane Irene Can Teach Us About Disaster Preparedness

Hurricane Irene rocks the East coast
Photo: NOAA

Hurricane Irene rocks the East coast

Hurricane Irene was not as catastrophic as originally predicted, but millions of people did lose power and 35 lost their lives.

September is National Preparedness Month, so now is a great time to focus on preparing your family for future disasters.

Here are 12 lessons that Hurricane Irene can teach us:

  1. Disasters And Emergencies Are Unpredictable – When a disaster or an emergency strikes, you never know what is going to happen.
    for example, while a tremendous amount of attention was paid to New York City, the reality is that some of the worst damage ended up being caused in Vermont.
  2. During A Major Disaster Store Shelves Become Empty Very Rapidly – Every time any size disaster or emergency occurs, food and other emergency supplies disappear from store shelves in a matter of hours. If you do not have at least a couple weeks of food stored up you are being foolish.
  3. Always Have A “Go Kit” Ready – When disaster strikes, you may only have a couple of minutes before you have to race out the door. Your “Go Kit” should contain food, water, a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, cash, copies of your most important documents and any medicine you may need.
  4. Know Your Escape Routes And Always Have Maps Of The Area In Your Vehicle – Have a plan and know where you are going to be heading in the event of an emergency. If you don’t have a plan or if you don’t give yourself enough time, you could end up dead.
  5. During A Major Disaster There Is A Good Chance That You Will Lose Power For An Extended Period Of Time – During Hurricane Irene, more than 5 million people lost power. That is why it is crucial to have a battery-powered radio, a battery-powered (or solar) flashlight and extra batteries in your home. Know what you are going to do once the power goes out. Anyone that has been through an extended power outage knows how life can change almost instantly once the power goes down.
  6. Have Enough Water Stored Up – One of the biggest problems in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was a serious shortage of bottled water. If you do not have clean water to drink, you can die within just a few days.
  7. During A Natural Disaster, Major Transportation Routes May Be Shut Down – Many people were horrified to find roads closed or washed out during Hurricane Irene. Just because you are used to traveling on certain roads does not mean that those roads will be available during disasters and emergencies. Have a backup route planned.
  8. Have Respect For The Sheer Power Of Natural Disasters – If you do not respect nature, you can end up dead. Amazingly, some people were actually out boating, canoeing, and surfing during Hurricane Irene.
  9. Living Near Water Can Be Very Dangerous – If you live near the ocean or near a major river, you need to understand that the potential for danger is always there.
  10. During A Major Disaster Bring In All Objects From Outside – During any disaster involving high winds, anything that is left outside can quickly become a very dangerous projectile. If you know that a major storm is coming, please bring in everything that you can from outside.
  11. Have A Plan But Be Flexible – Your best chance of making it through a disaster or emergency is to have a plan while still being flexible. Disasters and emergencies are unpredictable, so it will be very important to be as flexible as possible.
  12. If You Wait Until Disaster Strikes To Prepare It Is Too Late – Now is the time to prepare for the next disaster or emergency. If you wait until an emergency happens, you will be out of luck. Victory belongs to the prepared, and if you think you will never wind up in the middle of a major disaster you are being foolish.

Hopefully, Hurricane Irene will serve as a wake up call for many people. The next time that disaster strikes, we may not be let off the hook so easily.


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