Home Emergency Management News Hurricane Season Begins June 1: Are You Prepared?

Hurricane Season Begins June 1: Are You Prepared?

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Hurricane Season 2016

As the start of hurricane season is rapidly approaching on June 1, the National Hurricane Center has released information regarding how many storms they anticipate, how many will become hurricanes, and which of those will be designated as major hurricanes.

With the first tropical depression already forming over the Atlantic Ocean, its likely upgrade to a tropical cyclone or subtropical cyclone, along with its projected path, now is the time to make preparations.

Preparing for a hurricane needs to be done before the threat of hurricane is imminent, as supplies will rapidly disappear off shelves, and insurance companies prevent any changes in policies for the region once landfall is predicted.

Understanding Hurricane Risk and Being Prepared

Ready.gov offers a wealth of information on how to prepare families for hurricanes, and suggests that the time to make a plan is before a hurricane threatens.

The key to being prepared is in knowing the risk a hurricane poses to the area and families living in that specific location, and then having an emergency plan. The emergency plan should include various options for moving out of harms way or to higher ground should a mandatory evacuation order be issued. Remember that an emergency plan should provide for all family members, including for disabled individuals and pets.

Understanding this risk also means that it is important to know the area evacuation zones, and what to do when an evacuation order is issued, including the location of evacuation routes and shelters. Those who need evacuation assistance should contact their local emergency management agency and let them know what kind of help is needed.

Community Alerts Through Text and Email

Many local communities now offer a text or email alert systems where residents can sign up for free to receive important local information, including watches, warnings, and evacuation information.  Receiving these alerts will help families be more aware of any imminent danger and allow them to seek shelter appropriately.

By now, most are familiar with emergency and disaster supply kits. These types of kits can be stocked for multiple hazards, as many of the supplies are the same, making it simple and cost effective. In case a refresher is needed on what to include, here is a basic list:

  • Food, can opener
  • Water, bleach
  • Cash
  • Prescription medicines
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlights, batteries
  • Cell phone chargers
  • NOAA weather radio,
  • Garbage bags
  • Whistle
  • Pet needs

The website also suggests preparing homes to better withstand storms by ensuring they are retrofitted or built with the latest in mitigation features for the roof, windows, and doors. Make sure each window has an appropriately fitting hurricane shutter, trim any loose branches from trees or shrubs, and clear gutters and downspouts from debris.

Watches and Warnings - Knowing the Difference

Knowing the difference between a hurricane watch and warning is extremely important.

Hurricane Watch: Within the next 48 hours, hurricane conditions are possible.

Hurricane Warning: Within the next 36 hours, hurricane conditions are expected.

Once any watches or warnings are issued, be sure to monitor local conditions through radio or television outlets, be alert for evacuation orders, and be sure to check in with family members.

A Few More Important Tips

A few other important things to prepare include:

  • Ensure vehicles have full tanks of gas.
  • Check emergency/disaster kit supplies for freshness, including food and batteries.
  • Have a suitcase ready with clothes for the family in case it is necessary to leave immediately.
  • Be sure to keep portable electronic devices charged just in case power goes out.
  • Turn freezers and refrigerators to the coldest settings to keep food cold longer with a loss of electricity.

After a hurricane has moved through the area, Ready.gov encourages individuals to watch for downed power lines and dangerous debris (sharp, etc.). They also ask everyone to avoid driving or walking through flood waters, as six inches of water can sweep away a vehicle, and the water could be electrically charged from power lines.

Finally, check in with family members and be certain to obey all posted curfews. If the area had been under a mandatory evacuation order, only return home once authorities deem the area safe.

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.