The storm season and other potential disasters can be stressful, and since the 2020 storm season occurs during the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, safety needs to be paid more attention.
Public health and emergency response experts will provide advice to help you prepare safely, evacuate, and cover storms while protecting yourself and others from COVID-19. Here are some tips to help you and your family stay safe during this year’s storm season.
Prepare for the storm season
Please note that your plan this year may be different due to the need to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Give yourself more time than usual to prepare emergency food, water, and medicine. Online shopping is the safest option to purchase disaster supplies. However, this may not be everyone’s choice. If shopping in person is your only option, take steps to protect your health and the health of others.
Protect yourself and others when prescribing by restricting in-person visits to the pharmacy. Sign up for mail order or call your prescription ahead of time, and use self-driving windows or curbside pickup (if available).
Please note the local guidelines regarding evacuation and shelter renewal plans.
When you check neighbors and friends, be sure to follow the social evacuation advice (keep at least 6 feet away from others) and other safety advice to protect yourself and others.
Ready to evacuate
If you may need to evacuate, please prepare a “carry-on item” that contains your personal items for use in an emergency. Include items that help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer, soap, disinfectant wipes (if any), and masks. Children under the age of 2 should not use masks. Children who have difficulty breathing or are unconscious and children who are incapacitated or unable to remove their masks without help should not use masks.
Know a safe shelter and there are several ways to receive weather alerts.
Find out if the local public shelter is open, just in case you need to evacuate the house and go there. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your shelter location may be different this year.
If you need to go to a shelter, follow the advice of emergency response experts to stay safe and healthy in a public shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic. When and where to evacuate, please follow the guidance of the local public health or emergency manager.
Make a plan and prepare disaster prevention equipment for pets (if any). Find out if your shelter will accept pets. Typically, when a shelter accommodates pets, the pets are housed in an area separate from people.
Please follow safety precautions when using vehicles for evacuation. If you must leave the community to evacuate, please follow relevant safety precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
With friends or family
If you want to be with friends or family to avoid the storm:
- Talk to the person you plan to live with about how to best protect yourself from COVID-19.
- Consider whether anyone in your family is more likely to get COVID-19, including elderly people or people of any age with basic medical conditions. Make sure everyone knows what to do to keep them away from COVID-19.
- Follow daily precautions, including covering up coughing and sneezing, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands. Consider taking extra precautions for people living nearby.
Stay safe after the storm
In addition to following the guidelines on keeping safe after wind, please note:
1. You should continue to take precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, such as washing your hands and wearing a mask when cleaning or going home.
2. If there is a power outage and water outage, it may take longer than usual. If you use a generator, take measures to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
3. If you are injured or sick, please contact your medical provider for treatment advice. Keep the wound clean to prevent infection. Remember that during a pandemic, access to medical services may be more difficult than usual.
4. Dealing with a storm disaster can cause stress and strong emotions, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural to feel anxious, sad, and worried. Coping with these feelings and getting help when needed will help you, your family, and the community recover.
5. After the storm, it is not uncommon for rats and other pests to try to enter your house or building. Please note that due to the closure of restaurants and businesses related to COVID-19, there have been reports of increased rodent activity as they try to find other food sources. Follow the advice of pest control experts to take pests out of your home. Pests like to stay in damp places, so if necessary, contact a flood restoration company to use professional drying equipment to help restore your home.