Hurricane Preparedness is Vital For Your Family
Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 24-30, with the hurricane season officially starting on June 1. It only takes one storm to change your life and community. Tropical cyclones are among nature’s most powerful and destructive phenomena. If you live in an area prone to tropical cyclones, you need to be prepared. Even areas well away from the coastline can be threatened by dangerous flooding, destructive winds and tornadoes from these storms. The National Hurricane Center issues watches, warnings, forecasts, and analyses of hazardous tropical weather.
Storm surge is dangerous because a mere six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles–including large pickup trucks and SUVs.
The strong winds of a hurricane can cause widespread destruction. Hurricane Hugo was a fast-moving, category 4 storm that made landfall near Charleston, South Carolina. Hugo brought destructive hurricane-force winds hundreds of miles inland, downing numerous trees and power lines over a swath from the Atlantic coast to the southern Appalachians. Millions were left without power and the resulting damage totaled in the billions of dollars.
Tornadoes are also common with landfalling tropical systems. In recorded history, almost every tropical storm and hurricane that has come onshore in the U.S. has produced a tornado. These tornadoes most often occur in thunderstorms embedded in the storm’s rainbands, well away from the center of the hurricane.
Strong winds of a tropical cyclone can also cause dangerous waves that pose a significant hazard to mariners and coastal residents and visitors. When the waves break along the coast, they can produce deadly rip currents, even at large distances from the storm. In 2008, despite the fact that Hurricane Bertha was more than a 1,000 miles offshore, the storm resulted in rip currents that killed three people along the New Jersey coast and required 1,500 lifeguard rescues in Ocean City, Maryland, over a 1 week period.
What should you do to prepare for a hurricane?
Get a plan. The most important step is to identify your hurricane risk. Do you live in an evacuation zone? If so, you need to plan on where you and your family would ride out the storm if you are told to evacuate. Most people only need to evacuate a few miles from the coast to avoid the dangers of storm surge.
- Find a friend or relative that lives outside the storm surge evacuation zone and have a plan to ride out the storm with them.
- Establish a family communications plan in case you are not together when you need to evacuate.
Once a person understands their risk for hurricane impacts, an appropriate disaster safety plan should be developed to help ensure an individual’s and a family’s safety. A disaster safety plan is a comprehensive plan that identifies all of the steps a family needs to take before, during, and after a disaster to ensure maximum personal safety and property protection.
For a step-by-step guide on creating a family disaster plan for florida residents are here Florida’s “Get a Plan” guide. Living in another state? Visit your State Emergency Management Agency websites for family disaster plan templates that may be more suited to a local area.
Coastal residents should go to their local emergency managers for evacuation zone information. This information is typically available on-line. A county-by-county list of evacuation zone resources is available at: http://flash.org/hurricane-season/evacuation-zones/Evacuation_Zone_Identification_Survey.pdf
Vital resources to help you prepare include:
- Tropical Cyclone Preparedness Guide (PDF)
- Hurricanes.gov, which provides critical hurricane advisories and marine forecasts.
- Weather.gov for the latest forecasts for your part of the country.
- Ready.gov for additional preparedness information.
- National Hurricane Center Outreach Resources
- Weather-Ready Nation Kids (PDF)
- Ready.gov Kids
The best thing you can do for you and your family is to be prepared for the worst event. Set your communications with family members and have a plan.