Learning how to prepare for a hurricane is critical if you live near a coast where tropical storms form, such as the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico areas.
Not only are the winds terrific, there most likely will be flooding — sometimes far inland. It happened with Sandy on the New Jersey coast and recently in South Carolina.
Even though a hurricane can be fairly accurately predicted (at least that it IS coming), many people in South Carolina were not prepared — at all. Others found they were not as prepared as they had assumed.
Most of my usual readers are aware that these statements are true (or you wouldn't be reading here).
Look around you. How many of your friends and family fit into the first category? Yeah, mine too — the majority do not.
Those "common sense" people (aka preppers) are prepared to weather a hurricane because they have stocked up on food, water, shelter, emergency essentials, and a means to defend themselves. They may look at self-reliance as only a minor discomfort or inconvenience. They do not require supplies or help from government.
These people are in the minority.
The majority, even though they are warned ahead of time about fiercely high winds and possible extensive flooding, usually assume there will only be a lot of rain and some standing water on the roads. As the water begins to wash out roads and curfews are enforced, the unprepared rush to grocery and convenience stores to buy water, only to find the supplies gone or that they are trapped by blocked roads. Here they are surrounded by water and not a drop of it drinkable!
Gas pumps are either not working or there are long lines as people crowd to the gas stations because they didn't keep their tanks (at least!) half full.
Credit and debit systems quit working = no money to buy anything.
Roads are washed out or blocked = no escape for many.
The "freeway refugees", those that decided to try and escape, find the highway to be a parking lot. They are stuck there, or in small towns off the highway, until the storm passes with no water, no food, no cash, no supplies of any kind.
1. Listen to radio or television newscasts. If a hurricane watch is issued, you typically have 24-36 hours before the hurricane hits land.
2. Make sure all family members know where to meet.
3. Secure your home according to the items above that you have prepared.
4. Gather several days' supply of food and water for every family member. Since water systems may become contaminated or damaged, sterilize the bathtub and other containers with a diluted bleach solution (1 part bleach to 10 parts water) and fill them with clean water in case you are unable to or told not to evacuate.
5. If you are evacuating, take your disaster supplies kit with you to the shelter. Remember that alcoholic beverages and weapons are prohibited within public shelters. Pets are not allowed in public shelters due to health reasons, so make sure your pets are safe somewhere.
6. Prepare to evacuate.
7. Evacuate to an inland location if:
8. When authorities order an evacuation:
9. If you are not required or are unable to evacuate, stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors. Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - the winds will pick up again.
10. In strong winds, follow these hurricane preparation rules:
11. Avoid using the phone except for serious emergencies. Local authorities need first priority on telephone lines.
1. Stay where you are if you are in a safe location until local authorities say it is safe to leave.
2. Stay tuned to local radio or television stations for information about caring for your household, where to find medical help, how to apply for financial assistance, and so on.
3. Drive only when necessary. Streets will be filled with debris. Roads will have weakened and could collapse. Do not drive on flooded or barricaded roads or bridges. Roads are closed for your protection. As little as 6 inches of water may cause you to lose control if your vehicle - 2 feet of water will carry most cars away.
4. Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until notified by officials that it is safe to do so.
5. Consider your family's health and safety needs. Be aware of symptoms of stress and fatigue. Keep your household together and seek crisis counseling if you have need.
6. Talk with your children about what has happened and how they can help during the recovery. Being involved will help them deal with the situation. Consider the needs of your neighbors. People often become isolated during hurricanes.
7. Stay away from disaster areas unless local authorities request volunteers. If you are needed, bring your own drinking water, food, and sleeping gear.
8. Stay away from riverbanks and streams until potential flooding has passed. Do not allow children to play in flooded areas. There is a high risk of injury or drowning in areas that may appear safe.
9. Stay away from moving water. Moving water only six inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
10. Stay away from downed power lines and report them to the power company. Report broken gas, sewer or water mains to local officials.
11. Don't use candles or other open flames indoors. Use a flashlight to inspect damage.
12. Set up a manageable schedule to repair property.
13. Contact your insurance agent.