Prepare Ahead to Stay Calm
During Hurricane Season
Warm summer breezes mean getting ready for vacation, camp and days at the beach to most of us.
In hurricane prone areas, the warm winds of summer may feel less friendly and more threatening. Hurricane season in the United States begins June 1 and runs through November 30. Believe it or not, that is six full months of worry.
The past few years have brought more than the usual amount of hurricane damage to coastal areas. Many experts claim that as global warming increases, these tropical storms will increase in number and in strength. The same experts are predicting that there will be more hurricanes and many may wander up the Northeastern US coastline. That means the storms will hit areas not used to dealing with hurricane level winds and water damage.
Be Ready For a Storm
While this is not comforting news to those who live in areas affected by hurricanes, there are plenty of places to find out what you can do to get ready if and when a hurricane blows into your area.
One expert, Tulane psychiatrist and post-traumatic stress disorder expert Jan Johnson, advises planning ahead. According to Johnson, thoughtful planning is the key to staying calm.
If you are feeling twitchy at the thought of a hurricane coming your way, you are not alone. "I think everyone's tolerance for hurricanes this year is going to be much lower," says Johnson. "I think it is time to prepare and not wait, because there is no doubt that we are going to have some scares."
Kit and Insurance
Although June and July are traditionally slow months for hurricanes, Johnson advises getting an emergency kit ready now. Although hurricane insurance may be out of the reach of many families in already hard-hit areas, Johnson advises sitting down with family and friends to make plans for securing residences, identify evacuation destinations and determine what weather conditions will require evacuation.
"Know your own personal threshold for when you are going to leave and how many days ahead will you leave," says Johnson. "Part of trauma is feeling helpless and out of control, and having everything around you be disturbed and unfamiliar. Planning helps give people a sense of control."
Control the Stress
No one can control the weather, but solid planning helps people regain a sense of control that can help reduce anxiety. "If you have children, let them participate in the planning discussions and make their own little hurricane kit that includes their favorite toy," says Johnson. "That will help a lot with children's anxieties and fears by giving them a sense of control."
Johnson also advises that while it is important to stay informed about the weather, staying glued to the news or weather channels all day long merely heightens stress. "This is advice we give to people who have survived all kinds of disasters," she says. "Watching repeated coverage of that disaster, or similar situations, is not healthy, doesn't help you cope and can actually desensitize people."
Remember to Pack Your Medicine
Johnson advises that residents with chronic physical or mental illnesses pack enough medicine to last through an extended evacuation. If possible, they or their caretakers should plan ahead and know where to find doctors in the place to which they intend to evacuate. "It's going to be an anxiety-provoking summer," says Johnson. " I would hope that people will try to use common sense and not to overreact at every hint of bad weather."
Johnson stresses maintaining
social networks and routines will be important sources of comfort
during the upcoming season. "Take
care of yourselves physically. Get enough rest and nutrition, and
talk about your concerns and fears with people in your support network,"
Source: Tulane University
also see Top Ten Hurricane Safety Tips | Hurricane Cleanup & Recovery Tips
How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names? | How Hurricanes Form
Katrina Cramer-Diaz is a working mom with a background in education and plenty of experience in parenting. She lives in Virginia with her four children.