Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over the water and move toward land. I know a few cats who do just as much damage. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland cooling, rip currents, and tornadoes. Called typhoons in the North Pacific Ocean and cyclones in other parts of the world, these massive storms affect regions across the globe – Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins in May and ends November 30. Unfortunately, cat season is year round.
Hurricanes can cause loss of life and catastrophic damage to property along coastlines and can extend several hundred miles inland. The extent of damage varies according to the size and intensity of the storm, amount and duration of rainfall, path of the storm, and other factors such as the number and type of buildings in the area, terrain and soil conditions.
The additional toll hurricanes can take include:
- Damage or destruction of buildings and other structures
- Disruption of transportation, gas, power, communications (including my tweets), and other services
- Coastal and inland flooding from heavy rains and storm surge.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale divides hurricanes into five categories based on wind speed, central pressure and potential damage to homes, structures, power lines and trees, and the ability to block roads and bring areas to a standstill, or even render them uninhabitable.
Category 1: Sustains winds of 74 to 95 mph.
Category 2: Maintains winds of 96 to 110 mph.
Category 3 (Major): Whips up winds of 111 mph to 129 mph.
Category 4 (Major): Produces winds of 130 to 156 mph.
Category 5 (Major): Drums up 157 mph or higher winds.
Here’s how to prepare for a hurricane (adapted from Ready.Gov):
- Know where to go. If ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) and have a plan in place for where you will check in with family and take shelter.
- Assemble a disaster supply kit, including flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, and copies of critical information in case you need to evacuate. Don’t forget to include pet supplies.
- If you are outside the evacuation area and decide to stay in your home, put together adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days, as you could be stranded, due to flooding or blocked roads.
- Make a family emergency communication plan. My wife and JR and I have a plan in place.
- Utilize text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications, if data service is available in your area. To find out which alerts apply to you, search the Internet using your town, city, or county name plus the word “alerts.”
What to do after a hurricane:
- Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
- Check-in with family and friends via text (if cell service is available) or social media (if WIFI is operational). The Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System includes notes about what to do in a power failure.
- Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe to do so.
- Watch for debris and downed power lines.
- Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just six inches of moving water can knock a person down, and fast-moving water can sweep away a vehicle. What’s more, it could be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines or contain dangerous debris.
- Photograph the damage to your property to assist with insurance claims.
Remember that safety is important for everyone, before, during and after hurricanes. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
This video from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers additional hurricane preparedness tips: