Forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU), the University of Arizona and Accu-Weather are all predicting that the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season will be slightly higher than the yearly average for the past three decades. CSU includes in its outlook the chance of at least one major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean. This is an area that Gulf Coast residents pay extra close attention to as storms oftentimes move from the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico. The season starts in June and ends in November.
At the recent National Hurricane Conference in Orlando, Florida, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator, Deanne Criswell, said she feared that people had become complacent about making hurricane preparations. “”Disasters don’t discriminate. Just because it hasn’t hit your neighborhood doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to hit it this year.”
Criswell also said that hurricanes have intensified more rapidly in recent years than they did in the past, leaving emergency managers with less time to prepare, and their impacts are being felt well beyond coastal communities.
The following are recommendations from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on being prepared for hurricane season.
Make an Emergency Plan
Make sure everyone in your household knows and understands your hurricane plans
Know your Evacuation Zone
You may have to evacuate quickly due to a hurricane if you live in an evacuation zone. Learn your evacuation routes, practice with your household and pets, and identify where you will stay. Follow the instructions from local emergency managers. They will provide the latest recommendations based on the threat to your community and appropriate safety measures.
Recognize Warnings and Alerts
Have several ways to receive alerts. Download the FEMA app and receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service. Sign up for community alerts in your area and be aware of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA), which require no sign up.
Review Important Documents
Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents, such as ID, are up to date. Make copies and keep them in a secure password-protected digital space.
Strengthen your Home
De-clutter drains and gutters, bring in outside furniture, and consider hurricane shutters.
Get Tech Ready
Keep your cell phone charged when you know a hurricane is in the forecast and purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.
Help your Neighborhood
Check with neighbors, senior adults, or those who may need additional help securing hurricane plans to see how you can be of assistance to others
Have enough supplies for your household, include medication, disinfectant supplies and pet supplies in your go bag or car trunk. You may not have access to these supplies for days or even weeks after a hurricane.
Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)
Food (at least a several-day supply of non-perishable food)
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
First aid kit
Whistle (to signal for help)
Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
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)
Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
NOAA reminds us that “hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. impacts from wind and water can be felt hundreds of miles inland, and significant impacts can occur regardless of the storm’s strength.”