Living in west central Florida, we often find ourselves in the dreaded “cone of uncertainty” during hurricane season. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction throughout Texas and the unpredictability of Hurricane Irma brewing in the Atlantic Ocean it’s time to take your hurricane preparedness up a few notches. We’re still a few days out but now is the time to take action. Get your daughters and sons involved in the preparations. You might be surprised with their natural leadership skills start to show – after all, they are Girl Scouts!
Talk it out
Many children (even adults, too) are starting to feel nervous and scared about the upcoming storm. Having an open conversation as a family will help put their minds at ease. Ask what they already know about the storm and what concerns they have. Reassure them you'll stay together as a family and get through whatever struggles you might encounter. Provide basic information about the storm to help them understand what is happening. Let them know there are many people working to keep everyone safe (police, firefighters, paramedics, electric company crews, and other emergency personnel). Limit their media coverage of the storm to avoid adding to their anxiety.
Have a Plan in Place
Get together as a family to discuss your hurricane plan. Involve your children in the process. Talk about the types of supplies you need and why. If they’re old enough let them help secure your home by bringing in outdoor items like potted plants, patio furniture, decorations, toys and garbage cans – anything that can fly away in strong winds. If you live in an evacuation zone discuss where you will go during the storm.
Stock Up on Supplies
- The general rule is to store 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days for drinking and sanitation. If you’re concerned you won’t have enough, plan for more days.
- If you have space in your freezer, fill tupperware type containers with water and freeze it. This will help keep your freezer colder longer if you lose electricity and it’s an additional stash of clean water
- Fill your bathtubs with water (except if you have young children), sinks and plastic bottles. This can be used for drinking, washing and flushing the toilet.
- Stock up on enough non-perishable foods to last at least 3 days. The supply should include canned items such as ready-to-eat canned soup, meat, milk, fish, fruit and vegetables. Also get bread and crackers, cereal, granola bars, protein bars, and packaged condiments. Don’t forget the hand-operated can opener. Think about the needs of infants and pets – make sure they have enough food as well.
- Turn your refrigerator and freezers to the coldest setting. This will give your food more of a chance of surviving.
- Gather all of your important documents and keep them in a safe-deposit box or waterproof container.
- If you can, take the time to scan and/or photograph them. Save documents in a flash drive, drop box or email them to a trusted contact in case electronics are damaged.
- Documents include: passports, social security cards, birth certificates, immunization records, medical information, wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, investment information, bank account numbers, credit card account numbers, list of valuable household items, pet records, list of accounts with log-in information and password.
Fill up your gas tanks. The long lines at the gas pumps are just going to get worse as we get closer to the storm.
Prepare at least a 7 day supply of all your important medicines and prescriptions. Have photocopies of your prescriptions.
Pack a Bag
Have bags packed with toiletries and clothes to last you a few days. You never know if you have to get up and go at the drop of a hat.
First Aid Kit
Help you children pack a backpack with a few entertainment and comfort items such as a stuffed animal, doll, books, deck of cards, crayons, coloring/activity book, paper and blanket. Throw in their very own flashlight too. They can keep this bag with them during the storm, even if you’re staying at home.
If you’re instructed to evacuate by local authorities do it as soon as possible. Do not wait until the last minute because it might be too late. You do not want to be stuck on the side of the interstate in bumper to bumper traffic when the storm comes rolling in. Serve weather includes lots of rain and strong winds. Roads especially near the coast and low lying areas will start to flood. There are also the risks of down powerlines, trees and other debris.
If you’re staying put, make sure you stay indoors and away from windows. Do not go outside. There will be a lot of flying debris in the strong winds. Create a cozy space for your children to feel safe while the storm is passing through. The electricity will likely go out in many neighborhoods. Plan ahead with some board games, books and toys to keep children entertained.
Be a Sister to Every Girl Scout
After the storm has passed, don’t forget to reach out to your Girl Scout sisters to make sure they’re ok. If your family weathers the storm with minimal damage help others in need. Think of ways you can help others with Take Action. Learn how you can make a difference with disaster strikes.
Put Your Girl Scouts Skills and Supplies to Good Use
Last and certainly not least, you’re a Girl Scout and you’ve got this! Your vest is full of badges you earned with skills that will help you during emergencies and natural disasters. You’ve roughed it during camping trips without electricity. You are trained in first aid. Have confidence in your abilities. Grab your Swiss Army knife, flashlights, first aid kit, sleeping bag and other supplies you have already put to good use and let your natural leadership skills shine.