RICHMOND, Va. — While it’s not clear how Dorian’s path will impact Virginia, hurricane season is far from over and there are steps you can take to keep your home safe.
Hurricane season lasts from June 1 through Nov. 30. Hurricane Dorian may be the first storm Virginians are closely watching, but it won’t be the last.
To not break the bank by putting together an emergency preparedness kit, officials with the American Red Cross suggest building your kit overtime and to think about items that may be unique to your family’s needs.
“Buying items over time. So every time you go to the grocery store, maybe throw an extra can or two in the cart,” Jonathan McNamara, from the American Red Cross of Virginia, said.
You’d need enough food and water to take care of your family for at least three days. Also stock up on batteries and flashlights.
A major concern with any storm is power outages. McNamara says you can fill freezer or plastic lunch bags with water to put into the freezer to make bags of ice. Also, turn your refrigerator to the coolest setting now.
These tips can help keep your food cooler overtime if electricity isn’t working. After a few days without power, you’ll want to check its condition before eating.
“When in doubt, throw it out. We wouldn’t want you eat any food that’s spoiled,” McNamara said.
Making sure you have enough food doesn’t just apply to humans, but also your pets. If you need to leave your home and go to a shelter, have enough food and toys with you to keep pets happy too.
“If you go to American Red Cross or one of our partner shelters, there is going to be a safe location for your pet to go,” McNamara said. “We don’t want anyone to not seek shelter because they don’t think that their pets are going to be able to be safe during those experiences.”
Outside your home or apartment, take things out of the yard that could be picked up by strong winds, like plants, flags or large sticks and debris.
“Same goes for any grills or any outside devices that that are easy to move. Some of the wheels, locking them in place securing propane tanks,” McNamara said.
In any emergency, check to see if you have all of your family’s insurance information and important documents, like passports and birth certificates. Also, write down phone numbers you may need, like your doctor’s office and close family members, in case your cell phone loses power. Cash is also helpful in case outages have widespread impact.
These situations can be stressful. McNamara suggests families sit down together to come up with a plan in case you need to evacuate or go to a shelter.
“Talking to young children about knowing what they can experience in a storm that’s going to keep their anxiety low, keep them calm during the situation,” he added.
Gov. Ralph Northam declared a State of Emergency Monday which would free up resources in the Commonwealth that could be sent to other states impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
The Virginia Department of Emergency Management urges people to check out their evacuation zones.