Hurricane ready? ‘Don’t hesitate.’

As coastal residents, Georgians are reminded of their vulnerability to hurricanes during storms like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But with preparation, it is possible to reduce risk during and after such disasters. Those in the path of a hurricane have time to collect emergency items, and decide whether or not to evacuate as the storm approaches.    

“If an evacuation is ordered, evacuate quickly,” said Georgia Department of Public Health Risk Communicator Eric Jens. “Don’t hesitate.”

When an evacuation is not ordered, prepare by collecting supplies five days before the storm is projected to hit. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency recommends:

  • Water. One gallon per person per day, for at least three days, for drinking and hygiene.
  • Food. At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Manual can opener. For food, if kit contains canned food.
  • Radio. Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both.
  • Emergency charger for mobile devices.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit.
  • Whistle. To signal for help.
  • Face mask. To help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties. For personal hygiene.
  • Wrench or pliers. To turn off utilities.
  • Local maps.

Three days before, determine whether or not it is best for your family to leave – regardless of official evacuation orders. 

“Staying is not going to protect your possessions,” said Jens. “Save what you can, and get out.”

Those who decide to “ride out” a hurricane will face an average 72-hour wait time before rescue teams arrive after the storm. There will likely be no power and no transportation during that time. 

Jens explains the major cause of destruction associated with most severe storms is not short-term, high-speed wind but long-term water that accumulates causing flooding.

“Floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S.,” he said. “They’re also the most dangerous and most destructive. Driving through water that’s too deep, or moving too fast, can cause lead to needless fatal drowning.”

Unknown contaminates and sharp objects in the water may also cause disease or infection. The Department of Public Health offers tetanus shots to combat these infections.

“During flood recovery, you don’t know what’s in the water,” said Jens. “Debris is sharper than most people realize, and infections are common.”

Other dangers posed by floods from hurricanes are mosquitoes and mold.

“Mosquito eggs remain viable for months until they’re able to hatch, and suddenly they’re everywhere,” said Jens. “There is also mold in the walls of homes. Residents should use a mask before trying to restore their homes, or they will breathe the mold spores.”