Hurricane season is gearing up with named storms forming in the Atlantic now, and ocean-bred hurricanes and tropical storms are very common across the southern and eastern coastal regions of the United States. To be properly prepared, you must begin early. The best way to keep safe during a hurricane or tropical storm is to make sure you understand the risk attached to these disasters well before the May to November hurricane season.
Hurricane safety can be described by three main categories of concern:
1. Infrastructure and construction
Before a hurricane watch or warning has been issued, it's a good idea to prepare your home, in case the warning comes with shorter notice than usual. This is especially important for seaside houses and cottages. Consider these long-term steps:
- Build artificial reefs to avoid high waves hitting shore.
- Build levees in coastal areas to protect from high water surges.
- Strengthen windows, doors, roofs and outlying buildings against high winds and water swells.
- Get adequate insurance in case of extensive damage.
2. Family preparedness
Preparing and understanding a family storm protection plan will go a long way to ensuring you know how to react during the storm:
- Draft a family plan: It's a good idea to make sure your family knows what to do in a hurricane. Write down specific steps you will need to take, based on your vulnerability to a hurricane, such as where to go and who to call in an emergency. Make sure everyone is familiar with the potential for disaster.
- Assemble an emergency supply kit: Put together a kit stocked with batteries, flashlights, canned food, bottled water and any other items you may need in case your power is cut off or roads are washed out for an extended period of time. It is important to keep the kit freshly stocked and to ensure everyone knows where it's stored.
- Identify information sources: Be sure to take note of where to get the latest information regarding the storm, especially since internet and television might be out of service during a hurricane.
When a hurricane or tropical storm warning is issued and a storm is about to hit, it is time to put your plans into action. Measures you'll need to take include:
- Locating and checking your emergency kit.
- Securing loose items in your home, such as valuables on shelves or near windows.
- Boarding up windows.
- Filling your vehicles with gas.
- Monitoring various media outlets for information.
It is important to understand that no amount of preparedness can fully protect you from the potential devastating effects of a hurricane. Every hurricane is different, and it is impossible to fully and accurately predict the potential for damage. However, every hurricane provides a learning opportunity to prepare for the next one.