I plan to share a little about hurricane preparedness over the next few days as we head into the 2009 hurricane season. I’m totally convinced that, from talking with people who have experienced hurricanes, those who have a hurricane plan will do much better than those who don’t. For those of us living in South Florida – the most vulnerable area to hurricanes in the mainland United States – it makes good sense to have a plan. The graphic below shows the tracks of 165 tropical storms and hurricanes that have passed within 150 miles of Miami from 1851 to 2008. If you can’t see South Florida because of all the tracks, that’s the point. We have a long history of hurricane activity in South Florida. Having a plan in place now will greatly reduce the stress during any future hurricane threat – a threat that is sure to come.
Communications are critical in any disaster. My first step toward hurricane preparedness was to make sure that I had a simple communications plan for my family. I want to make sure that my family members know how to communicate with each other if normal means of communications are knocked out. My wife and I live in Miami but our three children live elsewhere in Florida. I have given each family member a list with our out-of-town emergency contact information on it. Our emergency contact information includes an out-of-town relative’s name along with his home, work and cell phone numbers, home address and email address. If my family members can’t contact each other directly through normal means for whatever reason, we will do everything we can to get word of our status to our emergency contact by any means available as soon as possible.
Just remember that after a hurricane, the power may be out, phone service including cell towers may be out, and email may be out. It is a good idea if you identify a friend or neighbor in advance who works in a place that has backup power. You can then contact that person (when possible) and ask them to send your status and other important information to your emergency contact via phone or email.
Just letting family members know that you are ok after a disaster can be tremendously helpful. And if you are not ok, your family members or emergency contact can often help get you some assistance. And remember that your communications plan can be used for other disasters (man-made and natural) in addition to hurricanes.