Great—after days of stalling in the middle of the ocean and switching patterns—meteorologists are now confirming the next hurricane is heading your way.

You’ve been debating whether you’d like to ride the storm out or evacuate, but after reading about the hurricane’s potential powerful winds and flooding, you’re ready to pack up your belongings, jump in the car and ride out to the nearest shelter. While choosing to leave before a natural disaster strikes is a great idea, it will be more beneficial to have an evacuation plan in place as well as a list of resources you’d like to bring along. An evacuation plan is especially useful for households with family members or loved ones that are children, elderly or have a condition that might lead to vulnerabilities during the storm. Take a moment to review the suggested precautions below to ensure your family’s safety while on the road.

Two young boys sleeping in the back of a car

Evacuating With Kids

If you think hearing news about a growing hurricane quickly approaching your city is stressing you out, imagine the impact it’s having on your kids. Most children aren’t sure what a hurricane even is, and if they’re learning about the storm from other kids at school, then they may return home in terror. That’s when it’s time for you to sit them down to explain what a hurricane is. Remember, storms are frightening for children so they are likely to have many questions about evacuating during a hurricane, it’s best you come prepared with thought out and age-appropriate answers. You can also use this time to reassure them that everything will be fine, because your family has an emergency evacuation plan set in place.

Once they understand the evacuation process, you can further ease any stress or confusion by holding evacuation drills.

Leading up to your evacuation, pack hurricane kits for your children that have important necessities such as medicine, non-perishable food items and flashlights and items that will take their mind off of the unfavorable circumstances. This could be their favorite stuffed animal or a portable gaming device. You should also store emergency identification cards within their kit that provides first responders with a brief list of trusted contacts they can call or message if you were to become separated from your children during the storm.

Image of woman holding pregnant belly while seated in vehicle

Evacuating While Pregnant

The most common advice given to pregnant women is to kick their feet up, relax and savor this special time. Unfortunately, when a natural disaster is headed your way, it’s hard to schedule in that important R&R. It can be even more tempting to stress and worry about leaving the comforts of your home behind to evacuate in a shelter. The circumstances may not be ideal, but there are ways you can make your evacuation process run smoothly.

First, make sure the hospital or shelter you’re heading to is still accepting occupants. The last thing you’ll want to worry about is being turned away and forced to find another shelter at the last minute—especially when a storm is fast approaching. As soon as you decide to evacuate, call the shelter you’re heading to and verify occupancy. While on the phone with a representative from the shelter, it doesn’t hurt to ask whether they suggest your family packs bottled water or non-perishable food items to consume throughout your stay.

Once you’ve found your shelter, it’s time to pack a reliable hurricane safety kit filled with all of your pregnancy necessities. This includes your medical records, medications or prenatal vitamins stored in a sealable plastic bag tough enough to keep them dry and protected against water or tamper. Try to keep your medication in its original bottle, that way you’ll be able to request a refill from a pharmacist. If you or a loved one is nearing the end of their pregnancy, pack along a hospital bag before evacuating that’s filled with the supplies you would bring to the hospital for the big day.

Evacuating to a different city might seem overwhelming because it’s unfamiliar territory. You can relieve some anxiety by quickly researching the city prior to your drive. This is a great solution for establishing the location details of a hospital within the city you might need to visit during an emergency. Establishing familiarity with the city also improves your chances of finding shelter within proximity of that hospital. While browsing the internet, take a moment to review the signs and symptoms of preterm and term labor.  

After you’ve researched the city and packed your hurricane safety kit, check your vehicle’s air conditioning to ensure you can stay as cool as possible while traveling. There’s nothing worse than sitting in heat which can trigger stress or lead to dehydration or an early labor. It never hurts to pack snacks to munch on either.

Evacuating As A Diabetic

Similar to pregnant women, diabetic evacuees should plan their evacuations ahead of time, so you’ll want to bring a hurricane kit along for the ride. Your hurricane kit is where you can store important testing supplies, medications and reusable cold packs or cooling wallets to keep your insulin cool. You should also include any important medical documents, such as forms identifying the diabetes you have or stating previous surgeries, prescribed medication and dosages.

Make sure you have up to one week’s worth of all medications and empty plastic bottles that can hold sharp items such as syringes, needles and lancets. Because blood sugar fluctuates, you should bring food items that can treat low blood sugar. Easy snacks you can grab at the store include juice or hard candy.

Weather is unpredictable, which you likely already know considering a hurricane is heading your way, so you may run into unfavorable weather patterns on the road or in shelter—such as excessive heat or humidity. Warmer temperatures can damage your glucose meters and test strips so be sure to store them within cool environments.

Finally, store hand sanitizer or baby wipes within the glove compartment of your vehicle to clean your hands before testing your blood’s glucose levels while on the road.

Evacuating With Elderly 

If an elderly relative or loved one is staying with you before a hurricane strikes, naturally you’ll want to be prepared when it’s time for your family to evacuate. The easiest way to make sure your loved one is cared for is to-you guessed it-prepare a hurricane kit. The contents will be similar to the kits mentioned previously, such as important medical records, insurance cards and prescriptions or medications. Your hurricane kit is best utilized in a sealed, waterproof bag to prevent damage. 

Some elderly need eyeglasses, oxygen systems or other devices. Make sure these items, as well as sources to power specific assisted living necessities (such as batteries), are readily available throughout your travels. Your loved one might start to worry while on the road, so bring some blankets and pillows to calm their nerves. A good podcast works, too.   

Before evacuating, take a moment to go through the plans in great deal with your loved one so they understand what’s happening.

Blue Road Sign Reading Evacuation Route

During The Storm 

Now that you know how to evacuate the storm safely with your loved ones, it’s time to put these tips into practice. Remember to leave as soon as possible to avoid traffic and to keep notifications from trusted news services turned on. 

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