Weathering a storm, flood or wildfire during a pandemic can seem nearly impossible, but with the right precautions in place, you can safely navigate a natural disaster during COVID-19.
Prepare your home
First, review your home insurance policy and consider additional protection if necessary. Next, check your alarms and other safety devices to make sure they are all in working order.
Next check your home for loose shingles and weak supportive walls, and cover external air conditioning units with a secured tarp. Make sure there are no loose-hanging branches near your home, and consider boarding up your doors and windows. It’s also a good idea to clean your gutters, flue pipes and awnings.
Finally, secure the objects that are inside your home. Fasten all loose shelves, store heavy objects on low shelves and remove pictures and mirrors from sitting and sleeping areas.
Stock your home with an adequate supply of non-perishable food, water, medicine and other staples before the storm. If you must shop for these items in person, remember to follow basic COVID-19 guidelines, including masking up when in stores and keeping a 6-foot distance from other shoppers.
Review your emergency plan
You may need to make adjustments in your emergency plan during the pandemic. For example, an emergency evacuation kit during COVID-19 should have a supply of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and face coverings. You’ll also need to check if the public shelter in your area is open at this time, or if it has moved to a new location. As always, follow guidance from local public health officials when determining when to evacuate and where to find shelter.
If evacuation becomes necessary, the CDC cautions evacuees to follow safety measures for travelers.
Staying safe while in a public shelter
If your evacuation plans include a stay in a public shelter, follow these guidelines from the CDC:
- Practice social distancing.
- Follow the CDC’s COVID-19 preventive actions, which include washing your hands often and covering all coughs and sneezes.
- Follow shelter policies for wearing a face covering.
- If possible, avoid sharing food and drink with other evacuees.
- Avoid touching high-contact surfaces.
- Keep your living area in the shelter clean and disinfect high-touch objects often.
- If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, alert the shelter staff.
Staying safe with family or friends
If your emergency plans include a stay with extended family or friends, the CDC recommends these measures:
- If either of your households has someone who is considered high-risk for COVID-19, make sure everyone in the home knows to take extra precautions to keep them safe.
- Be extra cautious about covering coughs and sneezes, and wash your hands often.
- Have a clear plan to follow in case someone in the household becomes infected with COVID-19.