In light of the fact that Hurricane Amanda is gaining strength off the Pacific coast, and in honor of hurricane preparedness week, we wanted to take the opportunity to encourage our readers and subscribers to prepare for hurricane season. I don’t live in a hurricane area myself. But I think hurricane preparation applies to other types of disasters, too!
A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface.
Here are a few facts about hurricanes:
- All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes.
- Hurricanes have nothing to do with bacon.
- Parts of the Southwest United States and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods each year from hurricanes spawned off Mexico.
- The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October.
- The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30. So we have officially entered the Eastern Pac season.
- Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland.
- Hurricane can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and micro-bursts.
- Hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.
- Floods and flying debris from the excessive winds are often the deadly and destructive results of these weather events.
- Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain. And fast moving cats can do lots of damage to doghouses.
- Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides.
- Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.
So how are you supposed to prepare for a hurricane?
- Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Know your surroundings. I am well acquainted with the grassy area around the doghouse and all of the hydrants at the fire station.
- Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone.
- Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
- Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
- Make plans to secure your property.
- Cover the windows in your home. I hear storm shutters work well.
- To reduce roof damage, install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.
- Make sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
- Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
- Determine how and where to secure your boat.
- Install a generator for emergencies.
- If in a high-rise building, when high winds are present, be prepared to take shelter on a lower floor because wind conditions increase with height.
- Consider building a safe room.
Your hurricane preparations should include the following:
- Make a family plan.
- Check your disaster kit.
- Know your evacuation route (especially if you are new to an area.)
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep the doors closed. No sneaking in for snacks.
- Turn off propane tanks
- Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- Moor your boat if time permits. If you don’t have a boat—this step doesn’t apply to you.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
- Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency.
After a Hurricane:
- Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
- If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan.
- If you evacuated, 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. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering. Taking a walk is always a great idea.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
- Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering – the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
- Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated. I don’t mind tap water myself—or toilet water.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services 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.