July 26, 2013

It's Hurricane Season, Be Prepared

Almost two months into the hurricane season, forecasters are keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Dorian which is gaining strength in the Atlantic. Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance thinks now is a good time to remind you of the things you can do to prepare yourself for when these powerful storms come ashore. 

First a look at what's happened so far in the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. Experts at Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) predicted a season of 15 named storms in the Atlantic with seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. A major hurricane is one that is rated Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. Category 3 hurricanes have wind speeds between 111-129 mph.

The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and runs through November 30. Already there have been  four named storms: Andrea, Barry, Chantal and now Dorian, which is moving  toward the northern Leeward Islands. Forecasters say there's a chance that storm could hit the southeast U.S. sometime next week.

With that in mind, let's look at some of the basic things you can do to prepare yourself for a tropical storm or hurricane. The National Hurricane Center says on its website the two keys to weather safety are to prepare for the risks and to act on those preparations when alerted by emergency officials.
The first step in preparing for a hurricane is to gather information. Find out if you live in an evacuation area and know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind. Also, make yourself familiar with the meanings of National Weather Service's watches and warnings.

Get a list of contacts together including the Local Emergency Management Office, the county and local police and fire/rescue, local hospitals, local utilities, local American Red Cross, local TV and radio stations and your property insurance agent.

The NHC recommends you put together a basic disaster supplies kit and consider storage locations for different situations. According to FEMA, your disaster supplies kit should contain essential food, water and supplies for at least three days. How to build and maintain a disaster supplies hit can be found here.

Come up with Emergency Plans. A Family Emergency Plan can be downloaded from FEMA's www.ready.gov website. The site also has  also plans for workplace and school and how to care for your pets during a storm.  If you need to leave your home, review the FEMA Evacuation Guidelines and follow instructions given by local authorities. The NHC stresses that you are to leave immediately if ordered.

There are a number of ways to keep yourself informed about the paths of storms and ways to prepare for them. Some of the handiest tools are downloadable apps. A few of them are free with ads and others go for about $3.00.

One of the best educational resources about hurricanes and how to prepare for them is a 12-page booklet the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service have produced. It includes some great diagrams and all that hazards that a tropical cyclone can produce.  

If the forecasters are correct, the Atlantic season will include seven hurricanes with three of them major. Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance urges people in areas that are commonly impacted to prepare for these storms well in advance. 

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