Hurricane Safety And Preparedness

There's An App For That

by Thomas Walters // July - August - September 2017

With summer in full swing, we are in the throes of hurricane season. Thus, residents in hurricane-prone areas like ours are exposed to multiple messages for disaster preparation. It’s important to be prepared for the storm season that is now upon us. Many coastal counties maintain Offices of Emergency Management (OEM) that are responsible for developing plans to be prepared, reduce damage, and recover from the devastating effects of a storm.

A major part of preparedness plans includes community awareness of the key principles for a sound process: Assemble an emergency kit; create an emergency plan; remain informed; and become involved.

Typically, the OEM provides information to assist families with development of their own plan in the form of lists/checklists, hints, and suggestions. In this age of smart phone technology, this information can be downloaded via an app. Now, local OEM offices use new technologies to communicate evacuation information and allow community members to report damages and assist emergency managers with developing an overall picture of the community devastation. I encourage the use of additional apps, which provide tools and information to assist families with their own emergency plans. For example, the free Hurricane app from the American Red Cross, provides:
   – Step‐by‐step instructions for the periods immediately before, during, and after the hurricane.
   – Suggestions on how to plan ahead, so you can protect yourself, your family, and your assets before a hurricane threatens your home.
   – Access to severe weather information including the ability to stream NOAA (Weather) broadcasts.
   – Instructions for an emergency kit, including a link to a site that furnishes pre‐assembled kits.
   – “Make a Plan” tool, which is a feature that allows you to delegate tasks to family members; record meeting places for after the storm, in case of separation; identify out-of-town contacts (again, in the event of separation); map a route to the evacuation point; and share the plan via email with family and designated contacts.
   – “I’m Safe” tool, which allows you to create a message that can be communicated via Facebook, Twitter, email, and text to concerned friends and family.
   – How to find open Red Cross shelters in the reigon.
Everyone in this area needs to be prepared for a hurricane and the devastation it can bring – in addition to taking safety steps in advance like developing a family and pet emergency plan, creating a disaster supply kit, and securing your home, research and download apps to your smart phone now that will assist you with emergency planning so that if and when disaster strikes, you will be ready.

Thomas Walters

Allstate agent and owner of Walters Insurance Agency.