Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

103,643 subscribers and counting ...

By in
| Earth on May 31, 2013

Are you prepared for a hurricane?

Are you prepared for a hurricane if it approaches your area? Do you have an evacuation plan? Now is the time to make your plan – before it’s too late.

June 1 is the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. Now, early in the season, is the time to make a plan to stay safe if a hurricane approaches your area.  If you live along the Gulf of Mexico or East Coast and don’t have a plan, I hope this post will prepare you.  Sit down with your family and figure something out – now. 

NOAA expects an active 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. Read more about it here.

According to the National Hurricane Center, your family should have a supply kit. 

The supply kit includes:

  • One gallon of water per person daily for up to a week.
  • Food for a week.  Canned food and juices work really well.  Make sure you have a manual can opener and other utensils needed for cooking food.
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Clothing (including clothing that is water resistant)
  • First aid kit, medications, prescription drugs
  • Toiletries, hygiene items, moisture wipes, hand sanitizer and soap
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • NOAA weather radio
  • Cash, because debit and credit cards might not work
  • Full tank of gas/extra gasoline
  • Pet care items such as food, water, muzzle, leash, and a cage. 
  • Charged cellphone
  • Matches or lighter
  • If you have babies, make sure you have a decent supply of baby food, diapers, etc.
NOAA's GOES-13 satellite captured this visible image of Hurricane Sandy battering the U.S. East coast on Monday, Oct. 29 at 9:10 a.m. EDT. Sandy's center was about 310 miles south-southeast of New York City. Tropical Storm force winds are about 1,000 miles in diameter. Image Credit: NASA GOES Project

NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite captured this visible image of Hurricane Sandy battering the U.S. East coast on Oct. 29, 2012. Image via NASA GOES Project

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy destroyed this house in Jersey Shore, New Jersey.  Image via Shayna Marie Meyer

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy destroyed this house in Jersey Shore, New Jersey. Image via Shayna Marie Meyer

Also, if you live along the coast, make sure you have the supplies (such as plywood) to board up windows to protect your house. Get plywood now instead of 2-3 days before a storm hits.  And figure out what needs to be taken inside in case floods or strong winds pick up any of your belongings.

If a hurricane is imminent, turn down your freezer and refrigerator to the coldest settings possible.  If you lose electricity, your perishable foods will last longer.

Turn off propane tanks and small electrical appliances.

Develop an evacuation plan and understand the difference between watches and warnings.  Hurricane watches mean hurricane conditions (74 mile per hour winds or greater) are possible within 48 hours.  Hurricane warnings means hurricane conditions are expected.

The worst damage from hurricanes usually comes from storm surge and flooding.  However, stronger hurricanes can produce violent winds that can cause damage to buildings and structures.  Also, tropical systems are capable of producing small tornadoes.  With this in mind, do you really want to stay at your house?  Do you want all of these possible impacts to threaten you and your family?

Is your house in an area prone to flooding? If so, do you have flood insurance for your house?  Check out Floodsmart.gov if you do not have flood insurance.

How does your community prepare for a hurricane?  Is there a certain procedure the city follows in case of an evacuation? 

Pay careful attention to hurricane forecasts.  Sometimes, Mother Nature can be unpredictable.  A forecast Category One hurricane could end up being a strong Category Two, causing more damage than predicted.  If you see hurricane watches or warnings for your area, that should be enough to influence you to leave.  Do you have relatives that you can visit?  Don’t be a brave soul and weather out the storm.

Galveston, Texas. Hurricane of 1900. Image Credit: NOAA

The Red Cross has more information about being prepared for a hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center also has excellent information about hurricane preparedness and safety.

Meteorologists’ main goal is to not only accurately forecast the weather, but to protect lives.  They offer watches and warnings to prepare the public for life-threatening storms.  Please do not ignore watches or warnings!  Take every storm seriously. Hope for the best but expect the worst. 

Bottom line: June 1, 2013 is the start of hurricane season. Are you prepared for a hurricane if one approaches your area?  Do you have an evacuation plan?  Now is the time to make a plan – before it’s too late.  If you live along the Gulf of Mexico or East Coast and don’t have a plan, this post can help you prepare.