In 2018, Hurricane Florence tore through Virginia and the Carolinas, displacing 750,000 to 1 million inhabitants and pushing the death toll to seventeen people. The National Weather Center says hurricane season runs from June to November, but despite the long season, we are still seeing stories of people being unprepared for these disasters. 

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the seventy-one reported wildfires that have hit the western states in 2018 have eaten up a total of 913,394 acres. Fires are more likely to happen in the summer and autumn months when the air is dry, resulting in evacuations when the fire is too much for local authorities to handle. When this happens, people often feel unprepared for what to grab if they need to leave quickly. 

Here are some easy tips to help you prepare for natural disasters in your area. 

The number one item to have in your emergency storage is water. Have a supply of water bottles with lids tightly secured so you have access to clean water. For a family of four or a dorm of roommates, plan on ten cases of water. Something else to invest in is a filtration system; it saves space that water would take up, and you can use it on any water source you come across.

The second item you need is non-perishable food. Keep non-perishable food that doesn’t need refrigeration and that has a long shelf life. Be aware of expiration dates, and switch out your food storage when nearing the expiration date. The last thing you want when a disaster hits is to have a limited food supply or expired food. 

Emergency shelter for earthquake survivors in Sankhu. Photo by US Embassy Kathmandu

The last items to add to your emergency preparedness kit are flashlights, extra batteries, matches, and lighters. Aside from food and water, light is the greatest need in a time of emergency. According to Survive Any Disaster, emergency candles can burn for up to fifty-five hours, so not only could you use one to help you see but also for warmth or to cook meals. 

The National Weather Service says the best way to prepare is to be aware of the potential natural disasters in your area. They suggest listening to NOAA Weather Radio and watching social media and news channels. This is a good way to see how the disasters in your local area are being contained and to know if you need to take further action to stay safe. If the disaster causes you to stay home, prepare a safe room with window covers and have a preparedness plan. The safe room could be your family meeting place, equipped with a good supply of food and water. 

Though we may know its seasons, weather can still be unpredictable. It’s always important to know how to prepare and what resources are available. You don’t have to have a big budget to start preparing for a disaster. If something were to happen, having the  basics on hand will help.

— Hayden Wise

Klamath National Forest, Yreka, United States. Photo by Matt Howard