Have a plan for hurricane season, other weather events

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In the past several years, Wilson has experienced tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters that have disrupted electricity and other services so it is wise for every family to make an emergency plan.

Emergency management officials often say “The first 72 is on you,” meaning the public needs to have supplies including drinking water on hand for three days (72 hours) in case of emergencies.

Here is a link to a checklist of emergency supplies prepared by Wilson County Emergency Management. The American Red Cross offers these tips for preparing for a hurricane, although they are also good for other weather events.

In case of power outage, Wilson Energy customers should call 399-2424. Greenlight technical support is available at 399-2200. Both numbers are always staffed.

The City of Wilson works closely with the Wilson County Emergency Management, N.C. Emergency Management, the National Weather Service and other partners to keep citizens informed in case of severe weather. Be sure to monitor our Facebook, Twitter and website for the latest information, as well as paying attention to other local news sources and information.

Before a storm arrives:

  • Talk to your family about the type of disasters that might affect your home, including fires. Make escape plans.
  • Perform routine maintenance on your home, including repairing any leaks, cracks or structural issues.
  • Fill vehicles with gasoline and use ATMs to get spare cash. Power outages may take both gas stations and ATMs out of service.
  • Get additional LP tanks or charcoal for grills.
  • Fill bathtubs with water. The water could be used to flush toilets, wash or other uses if public water supplies are disrupted.
  • Buy batteries for flashlights and lanterns. Consider upgrading to LED flashlights for longer battery life.
  • Make sure that pets are safe.
  • Store vaulables in a safe place. Put important papers and photos in a secure location or protect them inside waterproof containers.
  • Discuss possible places to stay with friends and relatives, should it be necessary to evacuate. Most public shelters are uncomfortable and can be overcrowded. Most shelters also do not accept pets other than service animals.
  • Identify a safe location to meet, should you become separated from family members. Establish an out-of-town contact and make sure everyone has that person's phone numbers and email addresses.

During a power outage:

  • Use candles or fuel-powered lamps for light only under adult supervision. These items can be knocked over and start fires.
  • Only operate a generator under controlled circumstances and by someone experienced with their use.
  • Check on elderly family members, friends and neighbors.

What to do after a weather event

  • Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
  • Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  • Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
  • Stay out of any building that has water around it.
  • Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
  • Use flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
  • Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • As you rebuild
  • Secure double entry doors at the top and the bottom.
  • Strengthen existing garage doors to improve the wind resistance, particularly double- wide garage doors.
  • Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or one-half inch marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit your doors and windows.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on the awnings.
  • Select trees that are not as subject to uprooting to replace damaged ones. A gardening or landscaping professional can give you excellent advice.
  • Identify a place to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools and trash cans that is away from stairs and exits to prevent them from being moved by high winds and becoming missiles.
  • Ask a professional to ensure roof sheathing is properly installed, ensure end gables are securely fastened to the rest of the roof, fasten the roof to the walls with hurricane straps.