A hurricane is a massive storm system that is powered by heat from tropical oceans and the atmosphere. Each year hurricanes develop in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Although coastal regions and offshore islands are more prone to hurricane damage, inland areas can also be affected. Hurricanes are dangerous storms but you don’t have to be intimidated by them. The following information will help you to be prepared for a hurricane and lessen your risk of personal and property damage.
Before the hurricane season arrives you should obtain information about the topographical layout of your state. Your local municipal office can help you determine what sections of your state are most vulnerable to hurricane damage. They can also advise you about localities that are potential flood zones. If you live in a potential flood zone or along vulnerable coastal areas, you should become familiar with inland alternative routes that will take you away from the coast. You should also obtain information about emergency shelters and where they are located.
PreparationBefore the Storm
Inspect your home carefully. Check for loose shingles, damaged doors, clogged gutters and downspouts, etc. Cut down trees that are close to your house. Remove dangling limbs and store yard objects in a shed. If you have hurricane shutters examine them for defects and if necessary install new shutters. Purchase and store plywood, nails, and other supplies that are necessary for boarding up your house in the event of a storm. Have your smoke detectors and fire extinguishers tested.
It is also important to have a three-day emergency kit ready. This would include a first-aid kit, a battery operated radio, flashlight, extra batteries, cash, bottled water (one gallon per person per day), nonperishable food and other basic necessities. You should also consider placing important documents, your insurance policy, and an inventory of your home’s contents in waterproof packaging. Store in a safe deposit box.
After a Hurricane Warning is Posted
When a hurricane warning is posted for your locality and your house is in danger of being hit, protecting windows and sliding glass doors is almost always the number one action you should take. Nail Ã?Â¾” plywood boards across all glass doors and windows. This is very important because once a window is broken; it allows wind and rain to enter inside the house. This not only destroys the interior, but also applies upward pressure on the roof, which might be enough to tear it off. If this happens, the walls can collapse and your house can be destroyed. If you live in a mobile home secure it as best as possible and prepare to evacuate to a nearby shelter. Mobile homes are susceptible to hurricane destruction. Bring all lawn furniture, tools, and garbage cans inside your home. Keep your vehicles full of fuel and have ready cash on hand. Leave your pets at an animal shelter if you plan to evacuate.
Develop a plan for your family to meet in the event that you are separated during the storm. Choose a place away from your locality and a contact person that each member can call. Keep emergency numbers posted beside your phone, in vehicles, wallets, and purses. Your family should also learn basic safety measures, such as where and when to turn off utilities, first aid, CPR, and emergency numbers.
Listen to the media for hurricane updates and follow instructions from your local officials. If you are told to leave the area, do so immediately. If you are permitted to remain at home during the storm turn off all utilities including propane tanks. Unplug all appliances and fill your bathtub with clean water. Brace the interior of all external doors against the force of the wind and close all inside doors.
During the Storm
If you are at home when the hurricane begins you should remain on the first floor of a two-story house. If you live in a multiple story building try to remain in the hallway of the first and second floor during the storm. If the winds become strong, lie on the floor under a table or some other sturdy furniture. Do not go near windows or doors and remain in an interior room such as a bathroom.
Many people have been tricked into believing that a hurricane is finished when the center or “eye” of the storm passes over because it is relatively calm. This calmness is really just a short duration of tranquility before the next onslaught of strong winds and rain. After the “eye” passes the wind will change direction and return with full force.
After the Storm
Listen to your radio, TV, or Weather Radio to confirm that the hurricane has passed. Since hurricanes can spawn other dangerous weather situations such as tornadoes, you should still exercise caution and listen to weather reports. Inspect all utilities for damage. This includes gas, water, electrical lines, and appliances. Telephones should only be used to report emergencies. Do not turn on any utilities if you suspect even minor damage. Do not use water from your faucet until the authorities assure you that it is not contaminated. Never use any open flame indoors.
After the storm has passed resist the urge to go exploring. It is best to remain in your home or shelter until permission is given to re-enter a particular area. When you do venture out on the roads be careful as you drive around. Never go through closed or flooded roads. Watch for fallen trees and broken bridges. As you walk around do not step in standing water because it might be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. Stay on sturdy ground and away from any streams, rivers or moving water.
During the first week after the storm, access damage carefully. Since you might not be aware of structural problems make repairs cautiously to avoid accidents. Work with your neighbors and local authorities to help your community return to normal as quickly as possible. Update your hurricane response plans annually and keep your family safe.