Holiday & Travel Planning

Hurricane Season Is Coming. Are You Prepared?

Whether you live in Tornado Alley, the hurricane-prone coastal regions, or along the San Andreas fault, the fact is that Mother Nature has a mind of her own — and a natural disaster can happen anywhere, fast. Luckily, the ADD brain is wired to act quickly when danger strikes, but these tips — like having a backpack with prescription drugs and cash ready to go — can help you feel more prepared.

A yellow storm sign, showing the need to prepare for a disaster
Yellow sign storm in black text

When things are novel or urgent, people with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) are really on their game. Many emergency room technicians, first responders, and trauma nurses have this kind of clarity. Many also have been diagnosed with ADHD. Still, even those with ADHD need more than their instincts to prepare for disaster. These 4 tips — ranging from what to pack to who to call — can be the difference between an orderly evacuation and a chaotic (and scary) one.

1. Get some stuff for a power outage. The most common occurrence of a natural disaster, whether it’s a flood, tornado, or earthquake, is a power outage. Everybody in the family needs a flashlight, so you should stash some throughout the house.

  • Buy head lamps, hand-held, and lantern-style flashlights and lots of batteries.
  • Stock a good first-aid kit.
  • Buy a battery-operated NOAA radio that picks up local channels.
  • Make sure you have a car cellphone charger, wall charger, and USB charger.

2. Sit tight (also called Shelter-in-Place). Leaving your home is probably more hazardous than sitting tight. You should be prepared to stay safely and comfortably for 72 hours without electricity, television, tap water, fresh food, and maybe even without the Internet or cellphone service. Store these provisions in your home:

  • a three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
  • a three-day supply of nonperishable foods. Use a digital thermometer to make sure the fridge temperature is as low as 40 degrees.
  • disposable forks, knives, spoons, cups, plates, napkins, plastic bags, food storage bags
  • a bottle opener and a manual can opener
  • enough clothing to layer
  • extra blankets or a sleeping bag, in case the heat goes out
  • basic toiletry items
  • liquid soap, antibacterial moist towelettes, disposable vinyl plastic gloves
  • a working fire extinguisher
  • reflective tape to stick on clothing, shoes, flashlights, or other equipment to help you detect them in the darkness.

[Free Resource: Master Packing List]

3. Have backpacks packed. You might need to leave your home to stay with family, friends, at a hotel, or even a public shelter. Each family member needs a backpack or a small piece of luggage on wheels that can serve as a grab-and-go bag. Load it with:

  • two bottles of water and four high-protein, high-calorie energy bars, or trail mix, dried fruit, and granola
  • a change of clothes
  • travel-size toiletries, including toothpaste, toothbrush, and hand sanitizer
  • a two-week supply of all prescription and OTC drugs and a written copy of your prescriptions
  • a set of keys (car, home, and safety deposit box)
  • cash, in case the ATMs go down — $700 is recommended
  • boredom-busters for the car

Prep the car, too, with extra blankets, water, motor oil, and non-perishable foods. Don’t forget to bring your digital identity. A list of log-in info (passwords, user codes, security codes) comes in handy.

4. Fill out a written communication plan. The worst thing about being in a disaster is being out of touch with the people you love. Fill out a Written Communication Plan. (You can download a blank one at fema.gov.) Your email addresses, cell numbers, and work and home phone numbers will be in one place. Make a copy for each family member. Place one in the glove compartment of your vehicles, and put another in a plastic baggie inside your grab-and-go bag.

[Don’t Leave Home Without It]

  • Make sure everybody has vital phone numbers and email addresses programmed into their phones.
  • Learn how to set up a group email listserv and group text of your family, clients, or other vital groups.
  • Communicate with each other via social media.
  • Determine an out-of-town contact. You and your family can leave messages for each other there, using a pre-paid 800 number, if the local phone network is down.

Feeling overwhelmed? You can do this! Plan two disaster preparedness days — around your birthday, New Year’s Day, or Memorial Day weekend. Fill in your Communication Plan, pack those grab-and-go bags, and practice your evacuation route.


Get out of Dodge!

Don’t wait for someone to knock on your door with a neon vest and a clipboard asking for the name of your next of kin before you evacuate. If you are a risk-taker, you might find it thrilling to wait out the storm, but if there is a mandatory evacuation, it is best to go immediately.

  • Sign up for Be Smart local alerts on ready.gov and Twitter alerts at twitter.com/fema/alerts.
  • Watch local government posts on Facebook.
  • Join a local community network like NextDoor.
  • Know where you will evacuate to, and practice getting there as part of a family vacation or day trip.
  • Download offline local maps from the Google maps app.
  • Listen to a local station on the car radio if the power is out. It may well be your best source of evacuation information.

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  1. I have a question regarding the backpack with a 2 week supply of prescription medication. My insurance won’t allow us to fill our prescription more than once every 20 or so days, and won’t allow us to have an extra supply “just in case” due to the risk of drug abuse. Is there a way to acquire additional meds for use in an emergency pack, and if so, how long can you keep them stored before they need to be replaced?

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