Storm preparedness: your hurricane action plan

Check out Public Safety Canada’s Get Prepared site, to find out how to prepare for any kind of emergency or potential disaster. On that site you’ll find lots of information about how to make your personal emergency plan and what you should put in an emergency kit.

Here is an action plan of what you need to do before a hurricane becomes a threat:

1. Learn about hurricanes - Find out if hurricanes could be a threat to you. Visit the Canadian Hurricane Centre’s website to learn as much as you can. Go to the Climatology section of the website to learn if you are in an area that is visited by tropical cyclones and to see what such cyclones have done in the past. In particular, visit the section on Hazards and Impacts, which outlines the four basic threats posed by hurricanes or tropical storms in Canada:

2. Secure your home - You can make your home more secure and less vulnerable to storms. Once you know your vulnerability or areas of weakness, you can take steps to protect your family, pets and property.

First, make sure that you have the proper home insurance, which covers for specific losses where you suspect you are vulnerable. If insurance companies suspect that you are more vulnerable in certain ways, this will be factored into the amount of risk they are willing to take. This will in turn be reflected in the cost of your insurance. Doing whatever you can to reduce your vulnerability could also reduce your insurance costs.

Second, put the time and money into strengthening the areas where you are vulnerable. For example, if you already know that you have a basement flooding problem during heavy rain events, you can seal your foundation or other areas where water is finding its way in, build drainage ditches to divert water away from your house, and make sure that you have a working sump-pump. If wind is your greatest threat, you can strengthen the exterior of your home to keep wind from breaking in by doing things like protecting and reinforcing your roof, windows and doors (including garage doors). Construction experts can advise you on your exact needs. There is little you can do ahead of time to protect your home or property from storm surge and large coastal waves. The best thing you can do when storm surge or large waves are on the way is to move away from the coast.

Third, if a power outage would cause serious problems for you, you may want to consider having a backup generator that will supply enough power to meet your essential needs (like in the case of essential medical or supportive equipment). Most emergency plans focus on being self-reliant for the first 72 hours after disaster strikes, but if your needs extend beyond that, then this must be part of your personal plan.

3. Develop a family plan - Make sure everyone knows what to do, where to go and how to stay connected to information sources. Your family's plan should be based on your specific vulnerability to the hurricane hazards. Keep a written plan and share it with other friends or family.

Check out Public Safety Canada’s Get Prepared site, and let them help you create your own personalized family emergency plan. It will highlight things to consider such as

4. Create an emergency supply kit - There are certain items you need to have regardless of where you ride out a hurricane. It’s important to keep it fully stocked with what you need and for everyone in your home to know where it is kept. You can either buy an assembled kit or create your own from things commonly found in your home. You should also consider an emergency car kit.

Public Safety Canada’s site has details of what to put in your home emergency kit and your car emergency kit.

5. Information sources - Make sure that you know where to get the latest weather forecasts and public announcements from emergency managers. During a disaster, battery-operated radios are the most reliable way to get information. However, in the days leading up to a hurricane, these websites will provide the best up-to-the-minute information:

Government of Canada sites

Provincial emergency measures organizations

Regional weather forecasts

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