SEPTEMBER 6, 2016, by LT Sarah Janaro – September is National Preparedness Month. Today we’ll tell you how to make sure you are prepared for one of the largest weather phenomenon – hurricanes.
It appears that the peak of hurricane season may be upon us. While hurricanes usually give us a heads-up that they are coming, that doesn’t mean we can let up our guards. A hurricane’s path can change several times and even at the last minute. It is important to plan early and often for these events. Even for those who do not live in coastal states, hurricanes can bring high amounts of rain and strong winds inland as well. So no matter where you live, it is important to increase your awareness and protect yourself, your family, home and property from harmful hurricanes or tropical storms.
1) Pay close attention to the news and emergency alerts.
- Check the weather: The Coast Guard mobile app for boating safety is a great way to quickly and easily check marine weather from your phone. With it, you can check the weather at nearby NOAA buoys, which can give you wind speed and directions along with wave height. If you’re a boater, make sure you check the weather each and every time you head out and continue to monitor it throughout your time on the water.
- The National Hurricane Center and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center issue watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous tropical weather.
- Download the FEMA app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips.
2) If a hurricane watch (hurricane may be possible within 48 hours) is announced, start preparing:
- Make or review your family hurricane plan, to include what you would do if told to evacuate. Where would you and your family go? Understand your surroundings – what is the elevation where you live; are you in a flood zone?
- Know your community’s hurricane safety plan, including where official shelters are located for emergency evacuation.
- If you have a boat, review your marina’s hurricane plan and secure your boat. This might mean taking your boat out of the water and strapping it down on shore, or ensuring it is properly equipped to ride out the storm at the marina.
- Get your “house” in order:
1. Ensure all emergency equipment works.
2. Fill up your vehicle with gas and stock it with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.
3. Stock up on non-perishable food and water supplies.
4. Have plywood on hand to protect doors and windows.
5. Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
6. Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks);
7. Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts, and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
8. Take videos and photos of your home and property in case there is damage or complete loss.
3) When the watch turns to a warning (hurricane conditions expected within 36 hours):
- Don’t wait – if told to evacuate, do so immediately! You should consider evacuating if you live in a mobile home, high-rise building or near bodies of water.
- If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.
- Charge your cell phone.
4) During the storm:
- Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
5) After the storm:
- Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
- Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
- Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
- Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
- Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.
- Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
- Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
Go to https://www.ready.gov/ to learn more about National Preparedness Month!