As if life hasn’t been hard enough- now we have hurricane season to look forward to, and to kick it all off, Hurricane Isaias made its debut reminding us that the pandemic isn’t the only thing we have to worry about this year. According to Colorado State University, the 2020 hurricane season is happening earlier, and a greater number of storms are predicted. If their predictions are accurate, we are looking at a hurricane season as powerful as the one that brought us Hurricane Katrina and Wilma in 2005. There are all kinds of meteorological reasons for this- like low atmospheric pressure coupled with rising air and wind shear, which usually helps tear systems apart are also very low this year.
Thankfully, we didn’t see the worst of it with Isaias, but quite a lot of damage was still done and not just the physical kind. The psychological impact of having to think about potential damage to our homes and further disrupting our lives with power outages was pretty intense. I felt anxious about it all day before the winds came, and I don’t live in Florida or in the Carolinas but on the East Coast in CT, where we bunkered down in the basement with news of tornadoes about to hit. If someone were making a movie of all of this, their script would surely be tossed aside for being too hyperbolic. A tornado, a hurricane, and a global pandemic; c’mon that’s way too over the top. But there we were in our little town with the power out, trees down everywhere (one teetering on falling on our roof). Down south where the Corona virus is tearing through the region, their situation was even worse. For all you on the West Coast living in California, you also were not spared and had the Apple Fires just to even out the coastal playing fields. What exactly happened to the summer of reprieve we all hoped for? The one where we could get some relaxation in before the next wave of the virus hit?
Thankfully, there are some safety precautions we can take according to the American Red Cross to protect ourselves from natural disasters during COVID-19.
Planning ahead isn’t being overly anxious, it’s being smart because unlike other hurricane seasons, this one comes with a side order of pandemic.
- Learn lifesaving skills, such as First Aid and CPR. The Red Cross has a variety of online classes to learn these skills. Also, download the free First Aid App (search “American Red Cross” in app stores) “I learned CPR,” might be a nice thing to say when people ask what you did during the pandemic. Is that humble bragging?
- Assemble two kits of emergency supplies and a one-month supply of prescription medication. Start with this basic supply list. Customize your kits to meet your needs. Include disinfectant and hygiene items like soap and hand sanitizer to protect against COVID-19. Some supplies may be hard to get, and availability will worsen in a disaster, so start gathering supplies now.
- Stay-at-home kit (2 weeks of emergency supplies): Include everything you need to stay at home for at least two weeks with items such as food, water, household cleaning and disinfectant supplies, soap, paper products and personal hygiene items.
- Evacuation kit (3 days of supplies in a “go bag”): Your second kit should be a lightweight, smaller version that you can take with you if you must leave your home quickly. Include everything you need to be on your own for three days – food, water, personal hygiene items, and cleaning and disinfectant supplies that you can use on the go (tissues, hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol and disinfection wipes). Ensure that you have cloth face coverings, such as masks and scarves, for everyone in your household who can wear one safely. Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing. Continue to keep 6 feet between yourself and others in public. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unable to remove it without help.
- 1-month supply of prescription medication, as well as over-the-counter medications like cough suppressants and fever-reducing drugs and medical supplies or equipment. Keep these items together in a separate container so you can take them with you if you have to evacuate.
How do I make a disaster plan during a pandemic?
Plan what you will do before, during, and after each type of disaster. Different emergencies require different actions to stay safe.
- Review the Red Cross Emergency Library for safety checklists and information.
- Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for safety tips, severe weather alerts and more.
- Get accurate information on how to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19 from the CDC at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html and the Red Cross at redcross.org/coronavirus.
Be sure that you can find out quickly about a hazard. Have access to weather alerts and community notifications. Be sure that you can receive official notifications even during a power outage. Always follow the directions of your state and local authorities.
- Register to receive free emergency alerts that your community may offer. Consider purchasing a battery-powered radio or downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App.
- Know the types of notifications to expect and what to do when you receive them. For example, a “watch” means you should be ready to act; a “warning” means you should take action immediately.
- Learn the natural warning signs of a hazard — you may not always receive an official alert.
- Because of COVID-19, stay current on advice and restrictions from your state and local public health authorities as it may affect your actions and available resources and facilities.
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