Helping Give Away Psychological Science/Hurricane and flooding preparation and tips

The initial impetus for this article was Hurricane Florence, but the information can be re-used quickly in response to other situations. We last were adding links related specifically to Hurricane Dorian. The resources were crowd-sourced by clinical psychologists and members of the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology from all around the United States, many of whom have had many first hand experiences with hurricanes. This page was curated by Helping Give Away Psychological Science, a non-profit focused on dissemination and connecting people to resources from which they could greatly benefit.

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Before the Storm: How to Prepare edit

Government Resources edit

Where tropical cyclones have happened

These are two Federal sites that organize a lot of tips and recommendations. They are chunked into before, during, and after: At the bottom of both, there are links to PDFs (can be printed to have even if no electricity or internet), as well as social media kits to send the tips and link

Making a Family Plan edit

Errands edit

  • Put gas in the cars early (the lines will get very long) (GasBuddy and Waze may help find where there is still gas)
  • Take out cash from ATM; the ATMs will run out of cash or be nonfunctional
  • Refill medications to have supply on hand

Water, Food, First Aid, Supplies -- Plan for at least 3 days edit

    Assembling a disaster supplies kit
    Water and Food
    1. One gallon of water per person, per day (e.g., family of 4 should have at least 12 gallons)
    2. Could fill a clean bathtub to have clean water for drinking, cooking, pets
    3. Fill tupperware and empty water bottles (remember to leave room -- ice expands and will pop containers filled all the way)
    4. Non-perishable food in case of power outage (canned items, bread, crackers, etc.).
  2. First Aid
    1. Disaster Preparedness Kit & suggestions from US Dept of Homeland Security.
    2. NC Emergency Management YouTube videos in American Sign Language
      1. Getting a First Aid Kit
      2. Basic First Aid
    3. Here is an example of a purchasable first aid kit with good reviews
  3. Other helpful supplies
    1. See these YouTube videos from NC Emergency Management in American Sign Language
    2. Purchase alternative lighting
    3. Radio with batteries (internet will go)
    4. Batteries
    5. Portable cell phone charger
    6. Flashlights
    7. Have a battery operated radio to be able to get weather and emergency updates (until electricity and cell phone service are restored)
    8. Adapter plugs for cars to be able to:

Getting Home Ready edit

  • Have a designated safe room in the house or apartment (area with no windows)
  • Remove anything outdoors that might become flying projectiles (bird feeders, garbage cans, lawn furniture…)(do it before the winds start -- not during the storm!)
  • Board windows if expecting high winds or tornadoes
  • Mattress overheads if part of the roof goes
  • Access to a generator is helpful after the power goes - make sure it’s well vented outside
  • Ways of cooking without microwave or electricity:
    • Get charcoal grill ready
    • Propane stove to cook for when the power goes out
  • Tip: If you leave home, put a coin on top of the ice cube tray in the freezer. When you get back check the coin- if it is on the bottom of the tray, the ice melted and re-froze and the food in the freezer may have gone bad.
  • Tip: If you live in a home with a washing machine, you could fill it up with ice as an extra cooler in case the electricity goes out. Then, when you are finished and the ice is melted, it will drain.
Preparing your phone for a natural disaster

Organization, Communication, and Insurance edit

  1. Get important papers ready in case you need to evacuate. Store them in watertight bags, you can also place them in your dishwasher during a storm.
  2. Back up computers
  3. Preparing your Smartphone
    • Bookmark the main information page for state emergency management or the department of public safety, and download any apps they have
    • Make sure emergency alerts are enabled in your phone's settings
    • Download maps for your area through the Google Maps App
    • Consider communication apps like Firechat, a messaging app which works without a signal, and Glympse, a real-time location sharing app.
  4. Make sure all devices are fully charged & use plastic bags to protect cell phones
  5. Get pictures, DVDs, etc in plastic containers
  6. Download apps
    • MyRadar (iphone) (Android) will allow you to track storm cells in real time
    • WhatsApp (often the best group communication app post hurricane, so long as there is WiFi or cell service).
    • FireChat is a newer chat app that uses Mesh networking, so it will talk to other devices with FireChat peer to peer (via Bluetooth or peer WiFi) even when there is no cell service or Internet connection. Mesh networks get stronger and faster as more devices use them.
    • Glympse is an app that can share your exact location with others, helping find each other, and helping rescue teams find people.
  7. Tell someone not in the storm’s path where you will be riding out the storm
  8. Take photos of your home and important belongings for insurance purposes
  9. Have insurance information ready in case you need to file a claim post storm; if you don’t file right away you may be looking at months of waiting
    • Note that homeowner’s insurance does NOT cover flooding
    • Need separate flood insurance policy
  10. College Students & Insurance
    • “...if a college student is under 26 years old, enrolled in classes and living in on-campus housing, the student may be covered under his or her parents’ homeowners or renters insurance policy.”

Taking Care of Pets edit

  • If you have pets, make sure to have plenty of food and water for them too as well as any of their medications
  • Get any pet carriers & supplies ready to go
  • NC Emergency Management YouTube video in American Sign Language

Children edit

  • Comfort Kits for Kids: we allow each child in our family a small back pack of comfort items. With everyone else preparing, this gives them their own task and during the storm provides them some items at arm’s reach that offer a sense of comfort and familiarity. A dark home coupled with a strong storm can be very frightening.
  • See more psychology & coping suggestions below, in “After the Storm”
  • Playing cards (even if you don’t have kids).

During: How to Stay Safe edit

Tips for helping young kids cope edit

Tips to help kids scared of storms
  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network resource
    • Help Kids Cope: a mobile app to assist families cope with hurricanes and flooding. Download the free app today for Apple and Android devices. The app has helpful guidance how to prepare for the storm, how to support your family during the storm, and if your family needs additional support after the storm.
    • Simple Activities for Children and Adolescents Without Power or Playing Outside is Limited

Tips for helping children with special needs edit

What are the biggest dangers during the storm? edit

Safety notices edit

  • Most storm-related deaths are due to drowning, and the Centers for Disease Control says that more than half of all flood-related deaths occur from walking or driving in hazardous water.
  • Please avoid entering moving water if possible. A foot of moving water is enough to sweep away a car, and six inches is enough to knock over an adult.
  • Muddy water makes it impossible to see holes and debris underneath the surface.
  • If you must walk in flowing water, stop and find shelter if the water reaches chest level on any member of your party & protect your phone in sealed plastic bag

After: How to Recover edit

Filing insurance claims edit

  • If you have damage, as soon as you’re safe fill out an insurance claim (can usually do this online or by phone). If possible take photos of the damage.

Be cautious of water edit

  • Be aware that boil water advisories may be in effect; if unsure use bottled water for drinking/cooking
  • Flooding can affect the water supply and sewage system. Having clean water is the next most important thing to be safe. Diarrhea can lead to serious dehydration and even death, especially in young children, older adults, and people who already were sick or hurt. Two big ways to prevent getting sick:
    • Drink safe water
    • Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer)

How to purify your own water edit

  • Easiest method: Clean the water with a small amount of bleach. Bleach can be used to kill viruses and bacteria in water, but it’s important to use only small amounts to avoid poisoning. Bleach must not be expired in order to work effectively. To purify water with this chemical:[5]
    • Fill a pitcher or jug with water
    • Add four drops (1/16 teaspoon) of bleach per quart (liter) of water
    • Shake or stir the mixture
    • Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes

Wildlife inside the home edit

Flooding forces wildlife to seek shelter, so more critters will be trying to get inside.

  • Stay calm!
  • If you don’t think you can handle the critter, don’t try
  • Most wildlife is not dangerous unless threatened
  • Contain it:
    1. Trap it under a cup, pan, or box
    2. Shut it in a room you don’t need to be in, and put a towel under the door
    3. Leave it alone until someone can come to help

Diarrhea edit

Diarrhea is the most common health problem after a disaster.

Homemade electrolyte recipe edit

This recipe is similar to Pedialyte and Gatorade, providing electrolytes when dehydrated.

  • 1 quart water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Tip: double the recipe (4 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt) if recycling a 2 liter soda bottle to mix together; 2 liters is just a bit more than 2 quarts.

Psychological First Aid and Coping for All Ages edit

    Managing traumatic stress after a hurricane
    Here’s a free, science-based book of ideas and activities for parents and teachers to help 6-12 year olds process storm-related events:
  2. National Child Traumatic Stress Network resources
    1. Simple activities for kids in a lighted area (like the shelter)
    2. Simple activities for kids without power, or when playing outside is limited
  3. The Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology resources
    1. about fear, worry, and anxiety
    2. about post-traumatic stress disorder, if still very upset 6 weeks or more later
  4. American Psychological Association resources
  5. Other resources

Hurricane Relief Efforts edit

Red Cross edit

The Red Cross is coordinating relief efforts in North and South Carolina. One of the best ways to help is to register as a volunteer with them and join up with their efforts. Here's the link to fill out the application, which asks for contact information and permission to do a background check:

Volunteering to help the recovery edit


  • The State of North Carolina by the Red Cross in partnership with UNC-Chapel Hill, is operating a shelter at the Friday Center. Monetary donations can be made online, where individuals can also apply to be a Red Cross volunteer at Hurricane Dorian: Disaster Relief & Donations | American Red Cross . Your donations will help provide food, comfort and more.
  • You can support UNC-Chapel Hill's relief efforts, when you select Disaster Relief Fund (010779) as the fund you want to donate to at Give to UNC

North Carolina Specific Updates edit

Hurricane Dorian- Volunteer Behavioral Health Providers edit

In partnership with the NC Department of Health and Human Services and Emergency Management, NCPA is actively building our list of potential volunteers who are willing and able to provide volunteer behavioral health services if needed in response to the potential impact of Hurricane Dorian. If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out this form. Filling out the form does not guarantee you a volunteer position. As need requests come into the emergency operation center, our office is contacted. We then will begin filling the positions as the requests arrive.

NC Medicaid Update edit

People receiving Medicaid can fill prescriptions early. Effective September 3, Medicaid is allowing for early refills of prescriptions. NC Medicaid enrolled pharmacy providers have been approved to fill these prescriptions early and will follow applicable co-pay requirements. This early refill is being allowed while the Governor’s State of Emergency order remains in place to ensure that all Medicaid beneficiaries have access to necessary medications.  

Medication assisted treatment is available.

Individuals receiving medication assisted treatment from an opioid treatment program may take home additional doses for treatment or receive guest-dosing at another licensed opioid treatment program. Other locations can be found in the Central Registry.

Shelter for medically fragile patients is open.

A 50-bed State Medical Support Shelter (SMSS) for medically fragile patients is now open in Clayton. Individuals who need active monitoring, management or intervention from a medical professional to maintain their health must contact their county emergency management office to request placement in the SMSS. Behavioral health services are available.

Anyone in need of or receiving behavioral health care who are uninsured or are a Medicaid beneficiary can access care by calling their regional behavioral health Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME/MCO). They can also call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990. It is available year-round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

Shelters are accessible and supportive of those with behavioral illnesses or intellectual and developmental disabilities. DHHS is working with its partners so that shelters have, for example, calming rooms to support individuals with autism or other disabilities, when a congregant setting may not be conducive for their wellbeing.

In the Works edit

The Department is in the process of: • Seeking authorization to provide early refills of medications needed by HIV patients. • Developing a waiver to offer Disaster SNAP benefits if a presidential individual assistance declaration of a disaster is declared. Waivers are drafted and are ready for storm specific data which will expedite North Carolina’s submission for a Disaster SNAP program, allowing for timely distribution of food assistance.   • Taking the necessary steps to ensure pregnant women, infants and young children have access to WIC benefits. • Ensuring shelters have access to live-saving Naloxone in the event of opioid misuse. o Securing assistive technology devices and equipment to help individuals who are displaced due to the storm or who have devices or equipment that is destroyed or lost.

Ways to Track the Hurricane edit

Keep in mind that hurricanes can be hundreds of miles wide and impact people far from the track of the eye. Flooding caused by intense rainfall can extend hundreds of miles inland and can be brought on by even minor hurricanes or tropical storms.