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Essential Guidelines for a Storm Shelter

In recent years, America has seen a number of natural disasters devastate wide areas of countryside and urban areas alike. Who could forget, for example, the devastation caused in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina or, only last year, the series of wildfires that ripped through Colorado which saw over 34,500 residents evacuated from their homes? While these occurrences are fortunately relatively rare and usually fairly controllable, it is always a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected – even if this simply means assembling a relatively inexpensive emergency kit for your home.

However, while a small collection of essentials may be enough for most areas of the United States, those who live in areas prone to hurricanes such as the Gulf Coast or certain areas of Florida and Texas may wish to go a little further in preparing themselves for a natural disaster of this type. Hurricanes can have a devastating impact upon local communities and push the emergency services to breaking point, so it is a good idea to have a well-stocked storm shelter on hand in case help is not accessible for several days.

Emergency Procedure

As soon as hurricane warnings hit the local headlines, it is important that everyone in your family is aware of a potential need to head to the storm shelter. However, hurricanes can hit suddenly and unexpectedly, so having an emergency drill in place is the best way of ensuring your family’s safety. Each member of the family should be aware of their role in preparing for a lengthy stay, such as collecting younger children or pets, and should also be able to easily locate items such as candles or a flashlight in case of a power out. Getting to safety in as little time as possible can make the difference between life and death, so having a routine in place will reduce the likelihood of panic and potential injury due to rushing.

Important Tools

While most people are aware of the food and water requirements within a storm shelter, not many take the time to consider what happens when a hurricane has passed on. Hurricanes are often powerful enough to collapse buildings and trees, so there is a real possibility of the entrance to an underground storm shelter becoming blocked by debris. For this reason, it is wise to keep tools such as a chainsaw, axe and shovel in a locked cabinet in the storm shelter, with extra charged batteries also stored for power tools. If your storm shelter is in the vicinity of active power lines, keeping a number of wooden poles for safe removal of broken wires is essential, especially in the case of flash flooding when water acts as a conductor for live electricity. Furthermore, keeping boots with thick soles to hand for walking through flooded areas is a recommended safety precaution in case of broken power lines in neighboring areas.

Medical Knowledge

While having a doctor on hand is a definite boon, this is not an opportunity presented to the majority of citizens. Therefore, having a basic knowledge of first aid and medical procedure is a huge benefit, especially in the aftermath of a hurricane. According to spokesman Dale Gauding, of Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk, Va., the majority of injuries requiring hospitalization will occur during the cleanup process rather than at the height of the storm. As many people choose to run generators in their storm shelters to charge cellphones or light the area, carbon monoxide poisoning becomes a real issue, as do lacerations and burns from debris and electrical wiring. Furthermore, falling debris can lead to rescue workers becoming trapped or crushed, meaning that a knowledge of safe moving techniques and an ability to splint broken limbs can minimise the risk of a fatality occurring. Having literature on hand as a point of reference in an emergency situation could literally save lives, as could a first aid course which teaches basics such as the cleaning and binding of deep wounds.

Remaining Warm

Flash floods tend to follow hurricanes due to pressure changes in the atmosphere, so ensuring there is a plentiful supply of dry clothing, waterproofs and blankets is massively important. These should be stored in waterproof containers within the storm shelter, as there is no guarantee they will remain usable should a hurricane hit your house. If any member of your family begins to show signs of shock, they should be wrapped up warmly and monitored closely to ensure their breathing and heart rate remains stable. Having an insulated sleeping bag on hand is also advisable.

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