Cell phone? First aid kit and medications? Your neighbors’ phone numbers?
Unless you can check off these items and more, you likely don’t have everything you need to be truly prepared for a hurricane.
Take an active role in your safety even before the Atlantic hurricane season officially begins in June. The season runs through November and peaks between August and October, but meteorologists report a named storm has developed in April or May and impacted the mainland the last six seasons. The takeaway? Be prepared for a hurricane or strong storm system for much of the year.
Whether you live inland or along the coast, hurricanes can have a serious impact on your life. Hurricanes are storm systems with circulating air and sustained wind speeds of 74 miles per hour or higher, according to OSHA. Hurricane systems typically spawn tornadoes and flooding. If a hurricane does strike your area, the damage may range anywhere from slight to massive, depending on your location.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) identifies several hurricane hazards that can impact residents throughout the affected area. Hazards include:
- Storm surges. This abnormal rise of water is generated by a storm’s winds. Storm surges and battering waves are historically the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the U.S. This hazard can travel several miles inland, especially along bays and rivers.
- Flooding from heavy rains. This is the second leading cause of fatalities from landfalling tropical cyclones. Torrential rains can cause flooding hundreds of miles inland and can persist for several days.
- Winds. High winds tend to destroy buildings and structures. Any material, such as signs or roofing, can become something of a flying missile during the storm.
- Tornadoes. Typically occurring in rain bands 7well away from the center of the storm, tornadoes often accompany landfalling tropical cyclones.
- Dangerous waves. Produced by strong winds, waves can cause deadly rip currents and beach erosion, damaging structures along the coastline.
Prepare Your Home Before the Storm
Use the time before hurricane season ramps up to prepare yourself and your home for the possibility of severe storm damage. ServiceMaster DSI recommends the following best practices in preparation for a hurricane:
- Sign up for a warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and NOAA Weather Radio provide emergency alerts. If your community has sirens, become familiar with the warning tone.
- Create your communication plans. Landline and cellular phone systems are often overwhelmed following a disaster, so you may need to use text messages and social media. Designate an out-of-town contact who can help your household reconnect and be sure to practice your evacuation plans with your family.
- Create an emergency kit. Keep this kit in an easily accessible location so you’ll have it on hand if you ever need to evacuate. These kits need to include non-perishable food, bottled water, essential medications, blankets, a radio, flashlights and batteries. Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and make sure you have a car charger for your cell phone.
- Inspect and reinforce your roof. Inspect the roof to make sure it is sealed tight before a storm. Consider reinforcing the roof with hurricane clips. These clips can help prevent the roof from lifting off the home.
- Identify outdoor items that could be blown away by strong winds so you can quickly bring them inside should a storm develop. Trim trees, branches, and bushes around the home to help minimize debris damage. De-clutter drains and gutters.
- Know how to turn off utilities. Locate the home’s gas and water shut-off valves. If damage occurs, know how to shut these valves off to prevent further loss.
- Review important documents. Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents are up to date.
In preparing for disaster, also consider your local community, says ready.gov.
If individuals with disabilities live in your home or neighborhood, identify if they may need additional help during an emergency. Check with neighbors and senior adults when securing hurricane plans to see how you can work together and assist each other as needs arise.
If your home or neighborhood should suffer from hurricane damage this season, call in the disaster restoration professionals from ServiceMaster DSI to aid in recovery. From water restoration services to demolition and residential reconstruction, we are ready to respond 24/7/365. Contact us today at 800-954-9444.