With the impending Frankenstorm (Hurricane Sandy) heading for the East Coast during Halloween, I wanted to provide simple advice on Hurricanes and how to stay safe during one.
Hurricanes are enormous cyclonic storm systems covering thousands of square miles which usually develop in the tropical or subtropical latitudes during the summer and fall. To be a hurricane, the system must be producing winds of at least 74 miles per hour. Less intense storms are called tropical depressions or tropical storms. Hurricanes, like tropical storms, are individually named to aid in identifying them. Each hurricane is, essentially, an organized system made up of hundreds of individual thunderstorms. The core of the hurricane is called the eye, an area of relatively benign weather several miles across surrounded by turmoil. All of the severe weather conditions produced by individual thunderstorms (heavy rain, hail, lightning, tornadoes, downbursts, etc.) are greatly magnified within the hurricane. Working together, such storms can also generate tremendous tidal surges, which can decimate coastal areas. Historically, individual hurricanes have caused the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damage as they ran their course over populated areas.
Remember: Hurricanes are among the most destructive phenomena of nature. Their appearance is not to be taken lightly.
FEMA Safety Guidelines for Hurricanes
Before a Hurricane
- Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent misdirected flooding.
- Determine how and where to secure your boat.
- Consider building a safe room.
- Keep articles in your basement elevated to avoid damage from even minor flooding.
- Keep a well-stocked Family Disaster Kit in case you lose power. Think about what you might need if you are isolated for a number of days.
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should: During a Hurricane
- Stay informed by monitoring the store via radio, TV, and internet.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors. Objects such as lawn furniture, trash barrels, hanging plants, toys, and even awnings can be broken and picked up by strong winds and potentially become a projectile.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Turn off propane tanks. Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- Keep your vehicles fully fueled.
- Have a certain amount of cash available. If power is lost, ATMs may not be working.
- Moor your boat if time permits.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
- If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
- If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.
- If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
- If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
- If you feel that you are in danger.
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.
· Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
During a hurricane, and possibly for days or even weeks afterward, electricity and other utilities might not be available. Debris and/or water might block the roads, preventing vehicles from getting in our out of your neighborhood. Help might not reach you for days after the hurricane, so you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient during that period.
Here are some of the most critical supplies to have on hand, well before a hurricane threatens:
- At least a 3-day and preferably a 7-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
- Non-perishable food
- Formula, diapers, and other baby supplies
- Manual can opener
- First aid kit
- Prescription and non-prescription medicines
- Cell phones and battery-powered cell phone chargers
- Battery-powered radios and flashlights
- Plenty of batteries
- Extra cash
- Blankets, sleeping bags, books, and games (especially if evacuating)