Storms like the infamous Hurricane Katrina and last year’s Hurricane Matthew can change lives and communities forever. To help Americans prepare for dangerous flooding, destructive winds and tornadoes generated by hurricanes, the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are sponsoring Hurricane Preparedness Week, May 7-13.
During hurricane season, June 1 to Nov. 30 each year, an average of six hurricanes develop from tropical storms over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico, according to the NWS. The NWS also reports that over a typical two-year period, the U.S. coastline is struck by an average of three hurricanes, one of which is classified as a major hurricane, with winds of 111 mph or greater. Watches, warnings and analysis of hazardous tropical weather are issued by the National Hurricane Center and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
Knowing what to do before hurricane season starts, when a hurricane approaches, when it’s in your area and after it leaves your area can increase your chances of survival. Basic tips on preparing your family and home are available at www.ready.gov/hurricanes and include steps to take when a hurricane is 6, 6-18, 18-36 and 36 hours from arriving. The best time to make a hurricane emergency plan is before there is a threat, officials say. Plans for parents, kids and transit commuters are available at www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.
Emergency supply kits should include these items:
- Water: one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation;
- Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food;
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both;
- First-aid kit;
- Whistle, to signal for help;
- Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place;
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation;
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities;
- Manual can opener for food;
- Local maps; and
- Cell phone with charger, inverter or solar charger.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers a mobile app with NWS alerts for up to five locations, maps of disaster resources such as shelters and where to talk to FEMA in person, custom emergency safety information and more. The app is available via Google Play and the App Store.
NWS and NOAA officials suggest people focus on a different theme each day during Hurricane Preparedness Week using the following schedule and links to information at http://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness:
- Sunday, May 7: Determine your risk.
- Monday, May 8: Develop an evacuation plan.
- Tuesday, May 9: Assemble disaster supplies.
- Wednesday, May 10: Secure an insurance check-up.
- Thursday, May 11: Strengthen your home.
- Friday, May 12: Check on your neighbor.
- Saturday, May 13: Complete your written hurricane plan.