The Ultimate How to Guide for Preparing and Surviving a Disaster

July 6, 2017 by FreightCenter Team
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FreightCenter is based in Florida and we know the challenges shippers face with supply chain logistics. Retailers are out of stock and flooding or blocked roads make freigth transportation nearly impossible. That’s why it is important to work with a freight provider who closely works with government agencies and organizations to pinpoint areas of need and coordinate shipments to those areas.

When disaster strikes, you have little time to act and prepare for the unforeseeable events that will pan out. By knowing you’re prepared, you can reduce common fears, anxiety and losses that typically go hand in hand when a disaster occurs. You can reduce the impact of disasters and sometimes avoid danger all together by implementing a plan and following through with it when a situation arises.

Be Informed

The question is not if a disaster will strike, but rather, when? There are certain disasters you may be at more of a risk for, depending on your geographical location, including earthquake, hurricane, and tornado. Likewise, there are disasters that pose a risk to people, no matter the location; including fire, chemical emergency, and terrorism. Be sure to learn about the different types of emergencies and which ones you are most vulnerable to. While the local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help aid those affected, it is ultimately your responsibility to prepare your home and family for anything that could happen.

Regardless of the emergency, the steps for preparation remain mostly the same.

  1. Develop an emergency plan and make sure everyone in your family is aware of it.
  2. Learn where you plan to seek shelter from all types of disasters.
  3. Decide on a “base” location that you and your family will meet at, should you get separated.

Collect and assemble your disaster supply kit. Plan to include enough supplies so that you can be self-sufficient for at least 3 days.

What to include in your disaster supply kit:

  • Water –  one gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days. Don’t forget about pets!
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food that doesn’t require cooking. Avoid foods like rice and pasta that require lots of water to cook. Also, avoid foods that will cause you to be thirstier.
  • Manual can opener for food
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery powered radio, NOAA Weather Radio, and extra batteries for both
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off appliances
  • Cell phone with inverted or solar charger
  • Dust mask to help filter that air that may contain debris
  • Medications
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Extra cash
  • Family and emergency contact information in case lose your cellphone
  • Maps of the area so you can find staging areas for aid
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Entertainment items in case you are stuck in the house with no power
  • Any additional items you may need for elders, babies, or pets in your family

Another option is to buy an already prepared survival kit for emergencies and then simply add or omit items that you deem necessary.


A lot of home preparation depends on the type of disaster that is prone to happen in your area. Below are a few examples of disasters and how you can do your part in getting your home ready for impact.


Because tornadoes develop so rapidly and are notorious for their unpredictability, ample warning time is not always possible. According to NOAA, the current average lead-time for tornado warnings is only 13 minutes. Rather than worrying about preparing your home, it is best to seek shelter immediately.

Tip: If you have enough warning time, secure furniture away from windows, mirrors and glass, to prevent broken glass to fly around during the tornado.


Hurricanes are typically slow moving and offer you hours, if not days, to prepare. There are many steps you can take to minimize damage to your home, or even prevent it all together.

  • Store two to three weeks of dry goods and canned foods. In cases of severe flooding, supermarkets will have have difficulty keeping shelves stocked and receiving loads from distributors. Shipping and trucking to the area could face delays and increase the amount of time it takes to restock food, water, fuel, etc.
  • If you are in a flood zone, consider investing in floor insurance. Your homeowner’s policy does not cover damaged caused by hurricane-related floods.
  • Make a complete list of your possessions, including outdoor items. This can help your insurance broker ensure you have enough coverage to replace items after a hurricane.
  • Talk with your insurance broker about how you should prepare your home in order for your policy to cover damage caused by the hurricane.
  • If you have hurricane shutters, confirm they are in good condition. If you don’t have them, consider installing them. You can also replace the standard glass in your windows with hurricane glass.
  • Check your gutters to be sure they are clear of debris. Clean gutters help prevent damage to your home during heavy rainfall.
  • Remove dead or damaged trees and trim branches that may become airborne during high winds.
  • Collect outdoor items and bring them inside.
  • Pool tips
  • DO NOT drain the pool. The weight of the water will help hold the pool in place as underground water levels build/ If you have a sufficient drainage or area for run off around the pool, you will be fine.
  • DO NOT drain the equipment. The weight of the water is what will help keep it in place. If you can move your equipment to an indoor location, that would be most preferable.
  • DO NOT cover the pool. Most types of cover can easily be blown off during a hurricane. A safety cover is your best option, though it can still be damaged by debris that lands on it.
  • DO NOT throw the patio furniture in the pool. This could cause damage to both the patio furniture and the pool.
  • DO secure all items in the pool area. Bring in everything that is not bolted down.
  • DO shut off the filter pump at the breaker and the gas supply at the meter.


Much like tornadoes, earthquakes are highly unpredictable and offer little time to prepare. Rather than preparing at the last minute, take steps to secure your house to minimize the damage caused.

  • Keep a headlamp by your bed, as the power will likely go out.
  • Bolt heavy objects to the wall such as televisions, shelving and even furniture that could topple over.
  • Add anchor bolts or steel plates between your home and its foundation
  • Brace unenforced chimneys, concrete walls, and foundations


With all your efforts in planning for a disaster, it is the hope that minimal damage and harm will occur. Once the disaster strikes, this is when you should respond appropriately to either ride out or seek shelter from the disaster.


The first and most important thing to do when a tornado strikes is to seek shelter. The safest place to seek shelter depends on your location at the time of the tornado.

  • In a structure: find the most interior room either on the first floor or basement. Do not stand by windows or near anything that could hit you. It’s best to put as many walls between you and the storm as possible.
  • In a mobile home: attempt to find the nearest secure structure. Even when secured down, these places offer little protection.
  • In a car: attempt to drive to the nearest shelter away from the storm. If that’s not an option, stay in your car with your seat belt on and duck and cover.
  • In an open field: duck closest to the ground and cover your head. Do not hide under or near bridges or overpasses.


If you are staying home and have chosen not to evacuate, there are many steps you should take in order to preserve your safety while the storm passes.

  • Turn off electricity at the main breaker to reduce the chances of damaging a power surge.
  • Do not go outside, even if the storm appears to have subsided. The eye of the storm can pass rather quickly and leave you outside once the strong winds begin to resume and debris is airborne.
  • Stay away from all winders and exterior doors.
  • Seek shelter in a bathroom or basement. Bathtubs can provide shelter if you cover yourself with durable materials.
  • Do not handle electrical equipment and do not use the phone except in a case of emergency.


Because earthquakes strike fast, it’s crucial to know your plan of action for any given moment. The approach of “Drop, Cover and Hold on” remains the same for most locations, though there are extra steps of precaution you can and should take depending on where you are when an earthquake occurs.

  • If you are inside a building
  • Stay where you are until the shaking stops.
  • Do not go outside.
  • Do not get in a doorway, as this does not offer protection from falling or flying objects.
  • Your best bet is to drop to your hands and knees and cover your head and neck with your arms to protect from debris.
  • If you are in danger of falling objects and can move safely, crawl for additional cover under a sturdy desk or table.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, walls, doors, and anything that could fall, such as light fixtures.
  • o Hold onto any sturdy covering so you can move with it until the shaking stops.
  • If you are outside
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • If this is not possible in a city, you may choose to duck inside a building to avoid falling debris.
  • Once in the open, “Drop, Cover and Hold on”.
  • Stay in this position until the shaking stops.
  • If you are in a vehicle
  • Stop as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Stay in the vehicle.
  • Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, and utility wires.
  • Once the earthquake has subsided, proceed with caution as roads and bridges may have been damaged



Due to how quickly a tornado occurs, you likely didn’t have time to fully prepare for the disaster. This means that having a plan in place for how to act fast after the tornado could make all the difference.

  • Deal with injuries first. If you have a first aid kit on hand, use that. Otherwise, wait out the storm and then seek medical help.
  • Shut off utilities including gas, water, and electricity. Damage to any of these utilities could cause a fire or explosion.
  • Inspect the damage. If you suspect any part of your home has been compromised, leave, and find a shelter.


Once a hurricane has passed, there is still a threat of danger if you do not take precautions. The area has just seen great destruction and should be approached carefully.

  • Stay alert for rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane has ended.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it’s safe to. In many cases, it can take several weeks for utility companies to restore power and running water to flooded areas.
  • Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
  • Stay away from loose or dangling power lines and report them to the power company immediately.
  • Inspect your home for damage and take pictures for insurance purposes.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check your surroundings before doing damage control at home. A broken gas line or an overhead power line is a serious hazard post hurricane.


An earthquake ends just as quickly as it comes on. You should always have a plan for how you will seek safety once the dust settles.

  • Once the shaking stops, look around and seek a clear path to safety.
  • If you are trapped, do not move, or kick up dust.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so that rescuers can locate you.
  • Be prepared to “Drop, Cover and Hold on” in the likely scenario that aftershocks occur.

The truth is, disasters are unpredictable and unpreventable, but it’s up to us to prepare for the worst case scenario to minimize both risk and damage. The best way to prevent is to prepare. Since 1998, FreightCenter has weathered seven hurricanes and countless tropical storms and depressions. We are masters at solving logistics challenges related to inclement weather and disasters. FreightCenter is a government-contracted third-party logistics provider. We work directly with FEMA, the American Red Cross, and other disaster relief organizations to coordinate shipments to staging areas. Staging areas are safe, dry zones where workers can accept and provide aid. If you need to coordinate a shipment to a staging area, please call (844) 212-SHIP for a rapid response to your need.

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