Three weeks ago, we began a series about severe weather. We interrupted that series to discuss earthquake safety. This week, we will resume our severe weather series, focusing on a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, or in the eastern Pacific Ocean. And we aren’t talking about disasters of the feline variety-I’m talking hurricanes. Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and rip currents.
All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Unfortunately, cat disasters occur all over the globe. Each year, parts of the Southwest U.S. and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods from hurricanes spawned off Mexico.
Vital Stats about Hurricanes, which can:
- Cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland.
- Produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and microbursts.
- Create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.
- Cause floods and flying debris which are often the deadly and destructive.
- Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain.
- Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides.
- Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.
History teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. The National Weather Service is responsible for protecting life and property through issuance of timely watches and warnings, but it is essential that you and your family and business associates be ready before a storm approaches. Getting to know your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.
Ten Steps to Prepare for a Hurricane:
- Get to know your surroundings at home and at work. You never know when and where an emergency will strike.
- Build three emergency kits—for work, at home and in the trunk of your vehicle.
- Make family and corporate communications plans.
- In high-rise buildings, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
- Consider installing an emergency generator.
- Cover windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten the roof to the frame.
- Trim leaves and branches to make sure trees and shrubs are wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Bring outdoor furniture, decorations and garbage cans inside.
Ten Ways to Cope During a Hurricane:
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- Only evacuate if you are directed by local authorities to do so.
- Do not use the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- Close all interior doors and windows – secure and brace external doors.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- If instructed to do so, turn off utilities. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to the coldest setting and keep the doors closed.
- Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water to ensure a sufficient supply of for sanitary uses such as cleaning and flushing toilets.
- Stay and away from windows and glass doors.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or sturdy, secure object.
Ten Steps to Take After a Hurricane:
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news and updates.
- If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and associated flooding, even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
- If you were instructed to evacuate, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
- For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
- Steer clear of loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to appropriate utility.
- Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Never use candles.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage and make sure tap water has not been contaminated. When in doubt, throw it out.
Subscribers to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services can take advantage of applicable educational tutorials including instructions for power outages as well as medical emergencies. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for severe weather is to be aware. Our system is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.