Hurricanes are nothing to take lightly. As hurricane season approaches, there are ways to prepare for a hurricane that should be kept in mind. Your and your families' safety should be the top priority during a major storm like a hurricane.
Taking action before the hurricane hits is extremely important. High winds and heavy rain should never be underestimated. Their effects can be extremely unpredictable. When a hurricane warning is in effect for your area, pay attention and prepare.
Plan Your Options During Hurricane Season
Planning ahead is the first and most important step to safety during hurricane season. The Red Cross emphasizes that planning your options is always necessary even if a hurricane isn't on the horizon. Pay close attention to the local hurricane watch.
In general, you have two options when preparing for a hurricane: evacuate or shelter in place. Depending on the severity of the storm, evacuation usually seems like the best option. However, life is tricky and not everyone is capable of leaving during these major storms.
Understanding the risks and rewards of preparation will help different people in different circumstances navigate themselves safely during the storm. Whether sheltering or evacuating, there are ways to get ahead of the preparedness game.
Preparation Tips for a Hurricane
1. When Evacuating, Plan Your Evacuation Route
If your local government declares an emergency evacuation order, have a pre-planned evacuation route. Chaos can erupt suddenly during hectic events like hurricanes. You'd be surprised how easily traffic can jam on busy interstates and highways when hundreds of thousands are trying to flee the landfall.
Plan for routes that seem unconventional, but a safe distance from the hurricane. Areas on higher ground are usually your best bet. The less traffic you deal with, the faster you can get to safety. Also, if can evacuate a high risk disaster zone early enough, leave!
2. Make Sure Your Vehicles are Equipped for Rain
It goes without saying: hurricanes bring heavy rains. Even before the high winds hit, your locality will get a lot of rain. When planning to evacuate, check your tires and windshield whippers.
Hydroplaning occurs very easily during heavy rain. Make sure you have tires built to drive on wet roads. Properly working windshield whippers is also important.
3. Prepare Your Mobile Home
If you live in a mobile home, you have the advantage of taking your house with you during an evacuation. If you live in an RV, evacuating is as easy as starting the engine and hitting the road.
Trailer homes, however, do not confer such advantages. While trailer homes can be moved, moving them is far more complicated and takes more time. If you do not have the time or ability to move your trailer home, special steps must be taken.
The AARP has a helpful list of steps to take to protect your mobile home in the case of hurricanes or a tropical storm. Among them is making sure your home's tiedowns are secure as well as inspecting your roof for any loose materials. Also, check for any possible wall openings in your home.
4. Prepare for the Storm Surge
Storm surges are the large amounts of water that flood in the impact area. Depending on the hurricane's strength, a storm surge can be mild or heavy. During heavy surges, flooding is likely to occur. This is especially true for coastal regions.
Dealing with flood damage is the only best option here. Flooding can often be minimized, but this can't be guaranteed. In this case, review your home insurance policies to make sure they will cover flood damage. Many home insurance policies do not cover flood damages even in areas prone to storms like hurricanes.
A sump pump can be helpful to keep around when dealing with flood water. They're fairly inexpensive and come in handy when clearing debris and water from your property.
5. Get Storm Shutters for Hurricane Force Winds
Flooding isn't the only major concern with hurricanes. High winds can be just as destructive to life and property. Wind wreaks havoc on roofs, doors, and windows. Exterior doors and windows are extremely vulnerable to hurricane force winds.
Use hurricane shutters to secure your doors and windows. These special storm shutters are specifically designed to secure windows, window frames, and doors from wind and debris damage. They also help secure garage doors as well.
6. Keep Emergency Supplies Handy for Power Outages
Keep emergency supplies around when sheltering in place. Power outages are inevitable during a hurricane, unfortunately.
Keep an emergency kit packed with items such as a cell phone, extra batteries, candles, canned food, bottled water, prescription drugs, a portable radio, and a first aid kit. The Red Cross considers these items essential.
A battery backup is especially important. Special batteries are made to help charge cell phones as well, so you won't have to lose your phone power after power lines snap.
Inspect your canned goods for their expiration dates. Non-perishable food is usually best when hunkering down. Bottled water is important to avoid drinking tap water. Water pressure tends to drop during hurricanes, which backs sewage into the drinking water.
7. Secure Important Personal Property
There are times when evacuation is necessary, but there are important items you must leave behind. Items such as outdoor furniture, propane tanks, or trash cans need to be secured.
Store your outdoor furniture and propane tanks indoors if possible. Trash cans can either be brought inside or weighed down with rocks or gravel to prevent the wind blowing them away.
Other items such as prescription drugs and important papers that also be secured. Store important documents and other essential items in a waterproof container in case of flooding.
8. Find Your Nearest Shelters if Needed
If you are in a position where you cannot evacuate and have no immediate housing, seek a hurricane shelter immediately. Stay informed to protect yourself against changing storm conditions.
Write down all of your contact information and keep it with you at all times. Many areas prone to hurricanes have temporary shelters available to anyone who needs them. Never brave the harsh elements during a hurricane. There's nothing more heroic than living to fight another day.
9. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Believe it or not, carbon monoxide poisoning is a real threat during hurricanes. It's not the hurricane itself that causes the carbon monoxide, but improper usage of emergency generators.
Since 2017, 39 people have died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from improper generator use. "We’ve had since 2017, 14 hurricane landfalls. Five were major hurricanes. And we’ve had seven storm surge fatalities," says Ken Graham, Director of the National Hurricane Center. "So in the last four years, we’ve lost more people to carbon monoxide poisoning after the storm than we have to storm surge."
Many assume that once the storm has passed, they can just crank up their generator until the power lines are fixed. However, as mentioned, some do not properly use their backup generators which emit toxic carbon monoxide.
When planning to use a generator, be very careful to install it correctly. Otherwise, you just may become part of a tragic and avoidable statistic.
The CDC also recommends other basic preparedness tips. The global pandemic has already caused enough strain on many aspects of life as it is. Natural disasters and the chaos they bring amplify the pandemic dangers even more.
This cannot be emphasized enough: do not underestimate the deadly force of a hurricane. These storms are capable of causing death and destruction on large scales. It is always wise to prepare during hurricane season whether you plan to evacuate or shelter in place.
By following the mentioned tips, you will have an edge when it comes to hurricane preparedness. Never take your chances on mother nature. When the storms are on the horizon, prepare as quickly as you can.
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