How to Stay Safe During a Natural Disaster
We all know what we should do before a natural disaster hits: Prepare, prepare, prepare. But once your family plan is in place and your emergency kits are stashed, do you know what to do when the storm hits or the ground starts shaking?
June through November is hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico, where storms with unassuming names like Wilma and Andrew can be catastrophic. Fortunately, meteorologists can forecast storms days before they make landfall, so you should have time to make an emergency plan or evacuate.
When the storm hits: "You want to get away from windows that might blow in," says James Judge, the executive director of Lake Emergency Medical Services, in Mount Dora, Florida, and a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. If you have a basement, shelter there. If not, choose an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows, like a bathroom or a closet, and take essential supplies—water, food, radio, batteries, flashlight—with you. Lie on the floor under a sturdy object, like a table, or cover yourself with blankets and pillows. If you're in a car or outdoors when the storm hits, seek refuge in the nearest building. If you think the storm is over, check reports on the radio. You might be in the hurricane's calm eye and winds will soon return.
No matter what: Don’t try to evacuate once the storm has reached you. "If the wind is blowing and the rain is coming down, you've waited too long," says Judge.