Three changes to disaster preparedness plans due to the pandemic
Nine hurricanes, 18 named storms, over a thousand tornadoes, close to 50,000 wildfires and over 50 significant earthquakes.
Just a portion of the natural disasters Americans went through in 2019, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Many of us experienced natural disasters over the years and perfected our disaster preparation plans. Yet, we have a new challenge this year; going through these disasters while also experiencing the on-going pandemic.
The on-going pandemic has introduced the social distancing concept to our lives, which in exchange necessitated adjustments into our families’ and communities’ disaster preparedness plans.
This article outlines three changes you can make in your disaster preparation plans in light of the on-going pandemic.
No. 1: Have multiple options for housing in case of an evacuation
Shelters, hotels, family and friends. Whichever is your preferred plan during an evacuation, you might want to have alternatives.
Both hotels and shelters continue to serve residents that evacuate their homes. Meanwhile, both are expected to have less capacity for evacuees due to additional safety measures. For example, a shelter could likely need to place beds further apart from each other, lowering its capacity.
If your evacuation plan includes staying with family and friends, you might want to consider their risk group in terms of vulnerability against the virus. You can then seek help from family and friends that are in lower risk groups, to protect them.
No. 2: Plan for longer power outages if staying at home and your area is susceptible to power outages
During a natural disaster, many residents are not required to evacuate and can safely stay in their homes. Meanwhile, many of these disasters often cause extended power outages creating inconveniences and at times, safety risks for those that stayed at home.
Plan for longer power outages if you decide to stay at your home; have extra supplies. As the pandemic impacts virtually everyone, crews working for the utility companies also needed to take additional safety measures. These safety measures could lower their productivity, delaying the restoring of power for your community.
You can find a more detailed checklist on what to do before, during and after a power outage.
No. 3: Include additional items in your disaster preparation kit
Consider creating two disaster prep kits: one for your home and one for your car in case of evacuation. In addition to normal disaster prep materials like flashlights, water bottles, and digitized important documents on a flash drive, consider extra sets of protective gear, fever management medicine and hand sanitizer to prepare for a disaster during COVID-19.
Masks and face shields rapidly became household items for many due to the on-going pandemic. Having an extra set in your disaster preparation kit could be handy if you lose your original items, or if you need them while staying in a shelter. Similarly, fever management medicine could be useful if you contract the virus during a natural disaster when many pharmacies might be closed.
For more on preparing for disasters, check out our short videos featuring preparedness tips for every season.
If you are interested in ensuring your family is safe and comfortable throughout a power outage, consider checking whole house and portable generator options available to you. For more preparedness tips and to get valuable resources, consider signing up for the Cummins Home Generators Newsletter.