Hurricane season begins on June 1 and end on November 30. During the months in between, there are several tropical storms and hurricanes that wreck havoc on the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, the Gulf Coast and parts of the East Coast. Hurricanes are fierce storms that can cause major damage to property and in many cases, the death toll is heartbreaking. Experts predict the 2010 hurricane season will be more active than in previous years, but there are several steps everyone can take to stay safe during hurricane season and to help minimize damage.
William L. Voge, an officer with the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) urge everyone to go over a check-list to make sure their families, homes and businesses are prepared for damaging winds and heavy rains associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. A well prepared emergency kit, a family emergency plan and current information can go a long way in helping to prevent injuries and property damage.
If you live in a hurricane prone area, keep a hand-powered, battery powered or solar powered radio ready to be tuned for more information. Anyone who does not heed the warnings and decide to stay in their home during a hurricane, should take precautions to stay safe. Notify family members outside of the hurricane area of your plans.
BEFORE A HURRICANE:
* Listen to the radio or TV station for weather reports and advice.
* Practice an emergency exit plan with your family.
~ If possible, before the storm hit, go to a community shelter – take cash, identification, blankets, food, medicine and toiletries.
~ Do not go outside and risk getting hurt by flying debris – stay inside until the storm is completely over.
~ Go to the basement or to the middle room, one with no windows.
~ If there is no basement or middle room, stay away from all windows and doors.
~ If your home is damaged, go to a neighbor’s home – as soon as possible.
~ Get enough cash to last for several days – including unexpected emergencies.
~ Get more information at 800-CDC-INFO.
As soon as the weather reporter or officials issue a hurricane warning, get ready to secure your property. For the best protection of windows, residents in certain areas should invest in permanent storm shutters or board up windows with marine plywood to prevent broken windows. An ‘X’ on the window with tape does nothing to prevent windows from breaking, it may help in keeping the broken glass together. Here are more ways to prepare before a hurricane is actively in the area.
~ Store a few gallons of water for drinking.
~ Fuel, inspect and service the evacuation vehicle.
~ Stock the cabinets with plenty of ready to eat, non-perishable food and beverages.
~ Hurricane roof straps or roof clips can help to keep the roof secured to the frame structure and they will help to reduce damage to the roof and building.
~ Keep trees and shrubs trimmed to prevent broken limbs from flying and falling on the roof.
~ Make sure the rain gutters and downspouts are clear of debris.
~ Boat owners should make sure to properly secure the boat or move it to a safe location.
DURING A HURRICANE:
Residents who were not advised to evacuate or decided to remain at home or in the area during a hurricane need to take all precautions to stay safe for the next several hours – or days. An NOAA Weather Radio can keep you informed. Residents who live in a mobile home are wise to follow evacuation orders. During hurricanes and tornadoes, a mobile home is at risk, even if it is pinned to the ground. High-rise building are another huge risk during these storms. The higher elevation, the stronger the winds. Remain safe by taking these precautions;
~ As soon as possible, fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
~ Close storm shutters and place unsecured outdoor objects in the garage or bring them inside.
~ Unplug all appliances and shut off the power. Turn the refrigerator thermostat to the coldest setting and open the doors only when it is necessary.
~ Land-line telephones should be used only for real emergencies. Restrict the use of cell phones to save battery power.
Anyone who live on the coast, near a river, on an inland waterway will not be safe during the swells of the water, called storm surges. Local authorities will more than likely demand all residents in these areas to evacuate – immediately. Residents who are unable to evacuate should go to the safest room, closet or hallway in the home and follow these guidelines:
~ Lay on the floor under a heavy object – such as a dining room table or an overturned sofa.
~ Stay away from windows and glass doors.
~ Close and secure all doors that lead outside.
~ During the quiet of the storm do not open windows or doors, this is the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again, maybe stronger than before.
AFTER A HURRICANE:
When the hurricane has passed over and the winds have subsided, this is the time to check for damages. If it is dark outside, wait until daylight before moving around too much. The radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio can give the most accurate information. Residents should wait until an area has been declared safe before venturing outside and around the neighborhood.
Watch out for downed power lines, gas leaks, debris, broken glass, flooded roads and closed roads. Barricades are put up for a reason, turn around and find a safe route if you see one. Be hesitant about going across bridges – they may be weakened by the storm. Stay away from standing water – it may be electrically charged from downed power lines.
~ Check gas, water and electrical lines and appliances for damage.
~ Do not use candles and other open flames indoors – use a flashlight.
~ Do not drink the tap water or prepare food with it until officials say it is safe to do so.
TAKE CARE OF PETS
During hurricanes and storms, pets are sometimes forgotten, left behind or they run away and cannot be found. Public shelters do not allow personal pets, other than those used by the handicapped. It is best to search ahead of time for pet-friendly hotels or motels along your route. Get a supply of pet food, a sturdy leash and a pet carrier.
UNDERSTAND HURRICANE LINGO
* Hurricane Watch: A watch mean a hurricane is possible within 36 hours.
* Hurricane Warning: A warning mean a hurricane is expected within 24 hours.
* Eye: This the calm center of a hurricane when the wind and rain stop – for a while.
* Evacuate: Residents may be asked to leave their home. When asked to evacuate, do not return until officials say it is safe.
* Floods: Freshwater floods kill more people during a hurricane than any other hazard. Stay away from flooded areas.
* Storm surge: A massive dome of water, sometimes as much as 50 miles wide, sweeps across the coast close to where the eye of the hurricane comes ashore. The stronger the storm, the higher and wider the storm surge will be. For some, this is the most dangerous part of the storm.
* Tornado: Hurricanes sometimes bring tornadoes with them. Listen for tornado warnings and instructions.
FIRST AID KIT:
Pack a bag with necessities and minor emergencies. To be prepared, make sure essential are ready well before the storm arrive:
~ Medicine and all prescriptions
~ If there is a child – baby food, blankets, clothes and diapers
~ Several games, books, music players with headphones
~ Towels, soap and wash cloths
~ Batteries, a battery-powered radio, TV and cell phone
This suggestions will help to keep anyone safer during hurricanes and inclement weather. Follow the directions of the authorities and remain inside until it is safe to venture outside.
3] For emergency text messages and email alerts: Go to – NJalert.gov