Editorial: Be ready

Hurricane season starts June 1, but the storms that devastated parts of Connecticut Tuesday night provide a vivid reminder that disasters don’t follow any calendar, and can strike at any time. While it remains a question whether a tornado caused the damage, the trail of death and destruction will leave many nearby residents without necessary services for days.

Many emergency agencies use the June 1 date to urge people to prepare well in advance for a tropical storm or hurricane to reduce harm to loved ones and damage to property. The lessons taught can apply even when a standalone spring storm wreaks havoc, or when a single tree falls and cuts power to a neighborhood.

First, create a disaster plan for the family. A disaster plan should include an emergency kit, an inventory of important items, and an evacuation plan. Share the disaster plan with family and loved ones ahead of time so they are also prepared. Be mindful of elderly or infirm individuals who may require help.

An emergency kit should include enough non-perishable food, water and medication for each person and pet for three days. Plan to provide each person one gallon of water per day. A battery-operated radio and lantern with backup batteries are helpful.

Take an inventory of important documents and store them in an easily accessible, waterproof bag that you can keep in your possession. Documents may include identification, pet immunizations, warranties with receipts, medical plans, legal documents, insurance papers, etc. It may be helpful to scan them and save them to a secure location. Regularly make backups of any important computer files to an off-site location or portable hard drive. Having current photos or videos of property and contents may assist in potential insurance claims.

Make sure your house is fully stocked with batteries and flashlights. If you have a generator, make sure it is in good working condition and has fuel ready to go. If you don’t have a generator but are considering buying one, now is the time to put thought into it.

An evacuation plan should include where to seek shelter and the best route to get there. The safe house of a relative or friend provide viable options, as do hotels. Monitor the local weather reports, and if you are required to evacuate, refer to the plan. Don’t forget pet supplies, medications and the waterproof bag of important papers.

Keep a ready supply of the materials needed to secure all outdoor furniture, trash cans and other items that could easily blow away. Before a storm hits, be sure to secure these items.

Follow our website, wiltonbulletin.com, and sign up for Wilton’s emergency alert systems on the town website’s homepage: wiltonct.org. An old-fashioned landline phone (if you still have one) is always trustworthy when there is no power.