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Hurricane Safety: Prepare For These Dangerous Storms

Storm from aboveA hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or tropical storm originating (for U.S.) in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico or Eastern Pacific Ocean. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms and can produce tornadoes, microbursts, and winds exceeding 155 mph. Hurricanes cause heavy rains and floods resulting in catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions usually produce excessive rain and can trigger landslides or mud slides.

The hurricane’s storm surge is water pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the water level to heights that can cause severe flooding.

Types of storms

  • Tropical Cyclone: A cyclone originating over tropical or subtropical waters; it extracts heat energy from the ocean and exports it to the upper atmosphere
  • Tropical Depression: A tropical cyclone with a maximum sustained surface wind speed of 38 mph or less
  • Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone with a maximum sustained surface wind speed ranging from 39 mph to 73 mph
  • Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with a maximum sustained surface wind of 74 mph or more

The Atlantic hurricane season is from June to late November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season is from mid-May to late November. If you live in one of these regions, it is important to understand the steps to hurricane safety.

What to do before, during, and after a hurricane

Before

  • Know the elevation level of your property and whether it is flood-prone
  • Learn evacuation routes and where to find higher ground
  • Evacuate if: directed by local authorities; you live in a mobile home or temporary structure; or you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river or on an island
  • Cover all of your home’s windows with storm shutters or plywood; tape does not prevent windows from breaking
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure
  • Trim trees and shrubs around your home; remove dead or rotting branches
  • Clear all clogged rain gutters
  • Reinforce garage doors
  • Ensure you have a supply of food or water (preparing a 72-hour kit is a great idea)

During

  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects
  • Turn off propane tanks
  • Stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors
  • Close all interior doors; secure and brace external doors
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level
  • Avoid elevators

After

  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding
  • Contact a disaster relief organization, such as the Red Cross, if you are separated from your family
  • Drive only if absolutely necessary; avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges
  • Stay away from downed or dangling power lines and report them immediately
  • Keep your pets nearby and watch out for wild animals
  • Do not drink or prepare food with tap water unless certain it’€™s not contaminated
  • Wear protective clothing and be careful when cleaning up
  • Walk carefully around your home and inspect for damage
  • Take pictures of any damage inside or outside your home

Disaster preparedness plan

Visit our Disaster Preparedness Plan page to learn more about Tornado Safety, Thunderstorm Safety, Fire Safety Tips and developing an Emergency Evacuation Plan.

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One response to “Hurricane Safety: Prepare For These Dangerous Storms”

  1. Just know that there are new programs and plans available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) for reasonably priced, very comprehensive flood and natural catastrophe insurance.

    While not all aspects of these plans are fully operational,  by the time the next hurricane and high wind seasons come around, they definitely should be available. Current information is available here: FEMA – The National Flood Insurance Program.

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