Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. People who live in hurricane prone communities should know their vulnerability, and what actions should be taken to reduce the effects of these devastating storms. The information on this page can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water.
Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
· Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
· Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
· Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
· Flashlight and extra batteries
· First aid kit
· Whistle to signal for help
· Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and 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
· Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
· Local maps
· Cell phone with chargers
Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:
· Prescription medications and glasses
· Infant formula and diapers
· Pet food and extra water for your pet
· Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
· Cash or traveler's checks and change
· Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov
· Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
· Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
· Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
· Fire Extinguisher
· Matches in a waterproof container
· Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
· Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
· Paper and pencil
· Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Family Emergency Plan
· Identify an out-of town contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
· Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins, or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
· Teach family members how to use text messaging (also knows as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
· Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. Sign up by visiting your local Office of Emergency Management web site.
Find out what kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, are most likely to occur in your area and how you will be notified. Methods of getting your attention vary from community to community. One common method is to broadcast via emergency radio and TV broadcasts. You might hear a special siren, or get a telephone call, or emergency workers may go door-to-door.
Plan to Protect Property
Hurricanes cause heavy rains that can cause extensive flood damage in coastal and inland areas. Everyone is at risk and should consider flood insurance protection. Flood insurance is the only way to financially protect your property or business from flood damage. To learn more about your flooding risk and how to protect yourself and your business, visit the NFIP Web site, www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419.
In addition to insurance, you can also:
· Cover all of your home's windows with pre-cut ply wood or hurricane shutters to protect your windows from high winds.
· Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
· Keep all trees and shrubs well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
· Secure your home by closing shutters, and securing outdoor objects or bringing them inside.
· Turn off utilities as instructed. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
· Turn off propane tanks.
· Install a generator for emergencies
· Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage, it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
· Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
· Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency by visiting www.FoodSafety.gov.
Step 3: Be Informed
Hurricane hazards come in many forms: lightning, tornadoes, flooding, storm surge, high winds, even landslides or mudslides can be triggered in mountainous regions. Look carefully at the safety actions associated with each type of hurricane hazard and prepare your family disaster plan accordingly. But remember this is only a guide. The first and most important thing anyone should do when facing a hurricane threat is to use common sense.