Preparing for Hurricane Preparedness during the COVID Pandemic
Source: FEMA, Author: Carlos J. Castillo, Acting Deputy Administrator of Resilience
As you continue to take precautions to keep yourself and your family safe from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is important to stay prepared for other disasters. Hurricane season begins on June 1, and the time to prepare is now.
FEMA continues to coordinate with state, local, tribal, and territorial officials, along with the private sector, to share operational guidance and to encourage hurricane planning that reflects public health guidelines. While many preparedness tools available to you are the same, certain actions may look different while COVID-19 remains a concern. FEMA has updated guidelines for preparing for hurricane season.
Know Your Evacuation Route
Check with local officials about updated evacuation shelters for this year. You should note that your regular shelter may not be open this year due to COVID-19. If you evacuate to a community shelter, follow the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you are able, bring items that can help protect you and others in the shelter from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, cleaning materials, and two cloth face coverings per person. Children under 2 years old and people who have trouble breathing should not wear cloth face coverings. While at the shelter, be sure to wash your hands regularly. If possible, be sure to maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet of space between you and people who aren’t members of your household.
Have enough food, water, and other supplies for every member of your family to last at least 72 hours. Consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets or seniors and prescription medications. In addition, it is recommended that you add two cloth face coverings per family member and cleaning items to your kit, like soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces. After a hurricane, you may not have access to these supplies for days or even weeks. Preparing now ensures that you are well-equipped to stay safe if you need to quickly grab your go kit and evacuate to a community shelter.
As you prepare, be mindful that not everyone can afford to respond by stocking up on necessities. For those who can afford it, making essential purchases in advance will allow for longer time periods between shopping trips and help to protect those who are unable to procure essentials in advance of the pandemic and must shop more frequently.
Make an Emergency Plan
Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands your hurricane plan. Discuss the latest CDC guidance on COVID-19 and how it may affect your hurricane planning. Don’t forget a plan for the office, kids’ daycare, and anywhere you frequent.
Download the FEMA mobile app
Download the FEMA mobile app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips. Available in English and Spanish, the app provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
Visit Ready.gov for more tips. Disasters won’t wait. Neither should you.
More helpful Hurricane Preparedness Tips
- Prepare an “emergency kit” of a minimum of 14 days of food, water and other supplies.
- Talk with family members and develop a clear understanding what you will do if a hurricane or tropical storm threatens. Prepare an action plan that includes details such as whether your family plans to shelter in place or evacuate.
- Know if your home is in an inundation zone, flood zone, or susceptible to high winds and other hazards. Know if your home is retrofitted with hurricane resistant clips or straps.
- Stay tuned to local media and their websites/applications regarding weather updates.
- Sign up for local notification systems (i.e., HNL.Info).
- Get to know your neighbors and community so you can help each other.
- Walk your property and check for potential flood threats. Clear your gutters and other drainage systems. Remove and secure loose items. Keep your car gas tanks filled.
- Prepare your pets by checking or purchasing a carrier and other preparedness items. A pet carrier is necessary for your pet’s safety if you plan to evacuate to a pet-friendly shelter. Don’t forget 14 days of food and water for your furry family members.
- Set aside an emergency supply of any needed medication and keep a copy of your prescriptions in case you run out of medication after a disaster.
- Secure your important documents in protective containers.
- Visitors should download GoHawaii App and read the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Travel Safety Brochure at http://www.travelsmarthawaii.com.
- Build an emergency kit – now
|Tweets by NWSHonolulu|
Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards – Sep 2019
Other Important Information – Resource From Hurricane Lane
One of the best ways to stay informed about Hurricane Lane is to download the city’s smartphone app, HNL.info, which is also available as a website. Residents and visitors can track Hurricane Lane directly by visiting the Central Pacific Hurricane Center website at: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/cphc/
Ever since the approach of another tropical cyclone, Hurricane Hector approximately two weeks ago, the Department of Facility Maintenance has been checking streams and channels for possible blockages. However, the city cannot clear debris from waterways that originate deep in O‘ahu’s valleys, and urges residents to report any illegal dumping to the Department of Facility Maintenance Clean Streams Hotline at 768-7890.
The Department of Emergency Management is in communication with the O‘ahu Visitors Bureau and the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority to ensure visitors are prepared. Visitors should be aware of Hurricane Lane’s approach to the Hawaiian Islands. It’s incumbent on our visitors to pay attention to warnings issued by local media and government sources, as well as keeping up to date with any announcements made by the O‘ahu Visitors Bureau and the Hawai’i Tourism Authority.
Mayor Caldwell and the city’s Department of Emergency Management urges all residents to know the following:
Take the time now to consider basic disaster preparedness and what actions you or your family will take in the event a hurricane threatens O‘ahu. Due to our isolation and large population nearing one million residents it could be many days before local disaster relief efforts reach all of those who are affected.
Individuals, families and businesses should be prepared to be on their own for at least 14 days. Assemble basic supplies such as food, water, clothing and important medications for a 14-day kit. Also, visit our website at http://www.honolulu.gov/DEM for more disaster preparedness information and to access downloadable information sheets.
Be aware that if you live on the shoreline or near the ocean you may have to evacuate due to the hazard of hurricane produced storm surge. Review coastal evacuation maps in your telephone white pages or visit our website at http://www.honolulu.gov/DEMand follow the instructions on the Tsunami Map Viewer to quickly see if you are in a tsunami/hurricane evacuation zone.
Emergency Alert System (EAS):
Important official emergency information such as evacuation notification and shelter locations will be broadcast over all TV and radio stations statewide using the EAS. Should your power go out during an emergency such as a hurricane, it then becomes vitally important that each household have a battery operated radio and spare batteries on hand to receive emergency information. Newer hand-crank generators or solar powered radios are also a good option. EAS broadcasts for major coastal evacuations will be aired in conjunction with a three-minute sounding of all Outdoor Siren Warning Systems on O‘ahu.
Emergency and Community Information via Social Media/Online:
Like and Follow the Department of Emergency Management on Twitter at @Oahu_DEM and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OahuDEM
Residents are also urged to follow Mayor Caldwell’s social media channels at: Twitter: @MayorKirkHNL; Facebook: facebook.com/MayorKirk; Instagram: instagram.com/mayorkirkhnl; and YouTube: youtube.com/MayorKirkHNL.
Emergency Email and Text Message Alerts:
O‘ahu residents are encouraged to sign-up to receive emergency email, cellphone text messages and push alerts from the City and County of Honolulu by downloading the free HNL.info app from the App Store or Google Play. You can also register online at https://hnl.info/alerts/login.php. HNL.info is also perfect for vacationers and out of town family or guests. Standard text messaging rates may apply depending on your wireless carrier and plan.
Preparing your home:
• Protect your property. Declutter drains and gutters. Consider hurricane shutters. Review insurance policies.
• Be prepared to bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
• Be prepared to cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
Check insurance policies:
Remember that homeowners insurance alone will not cover hurricane damage. You will need separate policies for hurricane as well as flood insurance to protect against damage from coastal flooding. You can buy flood insurance separately through the National Flood Insurance Program. Make sure to check and know what your existing insurance policies will or will not cover.
Non-English Speakers and Disabled:
If you have a family member who does not speak English or a family member who, due to a disability cannot receive emergency information readily, we highly recommend forming a core group of family or friends who can assist with translations or providing important emergency information as well as assisting with disaster preparedness actions and if needed, evacuation
Hurricanes and Tropical Storms:
Once a storm system crosses the 140-degree west longitude mark, it enters the Central Pacific area and would be in “Hawaiian” waters. Carefully monitor any hurricanes or tropical storms that develop or enter into Hawaiian waters until they safely pass our islands or dissipate.