It pays to prepare ahead for disasters

So far this summer, the only named storm to pop up on the weather radar is Hurricane Arthur, and forecasters are sticking by their prediction of a quiet season, which runs through November.

But quiet doesn’t mean silent, so experts advise people to follow that old Boy Scout truism to “always be prepared”, not just for hurricanes, but other natural disasters such as tornadoes and floods too.

According to guidelines, the first step is to acknowledge that disaster can strike and to prepare for that eventuality mentally and emotionally. Experts suggest the best way to do this is to make concrete preparations, and Catholic Charities has an in-depth guide to help you out (

Here are some tips:
1. Put together a disaster preparedness kit. Basics include canned food, a manual can opener, lots of water, a first aid kit, battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries. For a detailed list, see the disaster plan at

2. Understand that family members will be scared, and create a tailor-made emergency plan. Take into consideration age, physical limitations, medication needs, and more. Catholic Charities has an extensive list to help get your family ready.

Keep a “hit-the-road” bag packed for each person, and even your pets, so important items aren’t forgotten in the rush of leaving.

3. Print out a list of local emergency shelters and important phone numbers. Keep one by the phone and another in the glovebox of your car.

4. Don’t forget the furry, four-legged, finned or feathered members of your family. Bring them in well before storms arrive so they don’t panic and run away. Or if you’re leaving, take your pet and his supplies with you. For a list of pet-friendly hotels, visit

5. Teach your family the safest place to be in a hurricane, tornado or  flood. Practice each scenario with them so they’re comfortable and can react quickly.

6. In the event of predicted hurricanes or flooding and an official call to leave the area, know the fastest evacuation routes and leave well before the danger.

“The plan that’s on [the website] right now really does focus on the preparedness aspect, so all of that is good to follow,” said Jennifer Elkins, coordinator of the Diocese of Charleston’s Office of Social Ministry.

She does advise people to check ahead — especially in terms of hotels and shelters — to make sure nothing has changed.

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