Every year, up to a dozen tropical storms form over the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. On average, one or two of these storms become hurricanes and make landfall in the U.S. They range in intensity from a category 1 (sustained winds of 74 -95 mph) to a category 5 (sustained winds in excess of 155 mph.), and wreak destruction through flooding, storm surge, wind damage, and spawning tornadoes. Being prepared is the key to your personal safety.
The first step in being prepared is to develop a plan well ahead of time. To do this you must assess your proximity to the coastline, the geographical conditions of your surrounding area, and the type of structure you live in. You also need to find out whether you live in a designated evacuation zone or a flood zone. Take all of these into consideration in developing your plan.
For instance, if you know you live in a flood zone, making plans to take cover in your basement are not practical. Your plan should include a place you can go away from the flood zone along with several routes to get there if need be. On the other hand, if your home is not in a flood zone or designated evacuation zone, your plan might include means to take cover inside your house.
Next, you should determine how much food and clean water you’ll need to survive; at least for several days, if not a week or two. Gradually build up a supply of canned foods and dry goods, as well as batteries, a portable radio, blankets, first aid kit, and empty bottles for water. At the issuance of the first hurricane watch, be sure to fill your water bottles in preparation.
Finally, your plan should include a meeting place for all family members prior to the storm. When a hurricane watch becomes a warning, usually about 36 hours before landfall is expected, family members should begin meeting at the designated spot to prepare or evacuate.
Loss of life during hurricanes is frequently due in part to individuals not being properly prepared. Developing a plan now, and reviewing it regularly with your family, helps you to know exactly what to do if a hurricane threatens. In the event one does make landfall, your plan allows you to do what’s needed without panic or poor decisions.