DTAC Bulletin: Hurricane Season: Family Preparedness Tools

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DTAC Bulletin

Hurricane Season: Family Preparedness Tools

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season brought 15 named storms, including 8 hurricanes. The storms came with record rainfall, billions of dollars in property damage, and multiple fatalities. Hurricane Florence alone, and the flooding it caused, led to evacuation orders affecting more than 1 million people, more than $17 billion in property damage, and at least 42 fatalities.

When individuals and communities in areas at high risk for hurricanes take steps to prepare, they are psychologically as well as physically safer. Preparedness gives individuals, organizations, and communities clear steps to take in a disaster. It increases their sense of self-control and resilience, which may reduce the likelihood that they go through distressing experiences during a disaster. For some individuals, such as those who rely on medication to manage recovery from a substance use disorder or a mental illness, or those who use medical devices powered by electricity, preparedness is essential to mitigate consequences.

The following resources can give individuals and families a place to start in preparing for a hurricane. The resources provide helpful information for what to do with the time leading up to, during, and after a hurricane, including steps to take to keep family, pets, and one's home safe.

Climate-Related Natural Disasters: Resilience and Individual Actions

In this online article, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) identifies steps individuals can take to prepare for natural disasters such as hurricanes. APA provides tips for health, safety, and resilience before as well as after a disaster.

How To Emotionally Prepare for a Hurricane

The American Psychological Association notes that individuals who take steps to prepare for a hurricane, and recognize common reactions they are experiencing, may improve their emotional well-being in and after the hurricane. The association presents tips for bolstering psychological health and disaster planning.

Natural Disasters: Why People Often Don’t Properly Prepare for Hurricanes

This blog post from the Earth Institute at Columbia University describes research findings reported in a journal article about why individuals do not take part in preparedness activities before hurricanes. The article highlights ways that people think that get in the way of their engaging in personal preparedness activities, as well as ideas proposed by the article authors to counter these flaws in human perception, such as providing more customized risk information to individuals and making policy changes to get more people to purchase home insurance.


This page from Ready.gov has tips on how to prepare for a hurricane. It covers what to do if you face a hurricane warning, how to start preparing for a hurricane up to 36 hours before its arrival, and how to stay safe during, and after the disaster.

Disaster Preparedness for Your Pet

This page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how to make an emergency plan that involves a pet. It provides tips on how to make an effective plan, develop a disaster supply kit for a pet, how to keep a pet healthy, and what owners can do if they get separated from their pets.

Hurricane Preparedness for Persons With Disabilities and Access and Functional Needs

In this news release, the Federal Emergency Management Agency lists helpful tips for people with disabilities and access and functional needs and their loved ones in preparing for a hurricane. Tips are offered for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, those who are blind or have low vision, and for people with a mobility disability.

Trinka and Sam: The Rainy Windy Day

This downloadable children’s book from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network is a resource for parents and other caregivers to help them discuss hurricanes and the emotions they may cause among children. The back of the book has a guide on how to use the story, ways parents and other caregivers can help their children and themselves, and additional resources. The book is also available in Cuebano (Filipino), Haitian Creole, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Waray (Filipino).

Subscribe to The Dialogue

The Dialogue is a quarterly e-newsletter that provides practical and down-to-earth information for disaster behavioral health coordinators, local service providers, federal agencies, and nongovernmental organizations. You can subscribe to the newsletter or contact the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center (DTAC) by email at dtac@samhsa.hhs.gov to contribute an article to an upcoming issue.

Questions About the SAMHSA DTAC Bulletin?

The SAMHSA DTAC Bulletin is a monthly newsletter used to share updates in the field, post upcoming activities, and highlight new resources. For more information, please contact:

Captain Erik Hierholzer 

Nikki D. Bellamy, Ph.D. 

The views, opinions, and content expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Reference in this email to any specific commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute its endorsement or recommendation by SAMHSA. SAMHSA is not responsible for the contents of any "off-site" webpage referenced in this email.