NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz.
Preparing for the Storms Double Whammy
ServiceMaster Restore director Peter Duncanson explains why a record-breaking hurricane season in the United States means additional risks for COVID-security.
Although there is no question 2020 has been a troublesome year, an abundance of severe storms could affect and disrupt homes, families and businesses even further.
With a record nine named storms so far this year, expert predictions indicate this year's hurricane season which lasts through November is likely to be the most active on record. In fact, the presence of hurricanes Marco and Laura was the first time two named hurricanes occupied the Gulf of Mexico at the same time.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently updated its 2020 hurricane outlook, predicting up to 25 named storms (winds of 39+ mph), which would make the year a record-breaker.1
This year, however, there is the added complication of COVID-19 which begs the question, "How does a pandemic affect storm preparation for those who may be in harm’s way?"
Storms and flooding already present a lot of dangers. Coronavirus is another level of risk on top of the others. People must therefore prepare to remain safe from COVID-19 in what may be difficult circumstances before, during and after the storm.
Fortunately, multiple organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have published guidance for storm preparation in the age of the new coronavirus.
- Giving yourself more time to prepare before the storm arrives as shortages and social distancing in stores can make it more difficult to gather supplies;
- Accumulating emergency items such as batteries, bottled water, and non-refrigerated food items you will need such as disinfecting cleaners and hand sanitizer which may be in limited supply;
- If it is necessary to relocate to another location, taking extra face masks, disinfecting wipes, extra soap and hand sanitizer and your own linens - and ensuring prescriptions are fulfilled;
- If you have taken a recent COVID-19 test, taking proof of the results with you;
- Being extra diligent about hygiene protocol, covering coughs and sneezes, wash your hands often, avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and maintaining social distancing; and
- Helping anyone in your family who is at higher risk of COVID-19 complications maintain safe social distancing.
Additional precautions can also be taken after any storm, including:
- Recognizing the additional danger presented by the combination of mold spores and COVID-19 - If your home’s interior was exposed to water, make sure everything is cleaned and dried properly or replaced if necessary. If you are unsure about mold or mildew in your home, a restoration expert can perform mold/mildew tests; and
- Taking care cleaning up debris and storm damage as injuries and infection are serious concerns and emergency care may be limited in the aftermath.
Dealing with storms and any resulting flooding or damage is always stressful and potentially dangerous. Taking extra precaution this year will also safeguard you from the impact of the coronavirus.