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How to Prepare for a Hurricane

We live in a day and age when technology becomes more and more sophisticated on a daily basis. People can do almost anything and everything with their phone; online banking, make hotel reservations, and even order pizza. Yet it seems folks forget how powerful and destructive something as simple as the weather can be. A hurricane is one of those weather forces that will leave nothing but devastation in its path. So it's important that parents organize an emergency hurricane plan so everyone knows what to do if such a catastrophe should strike.

Hurricanes

According to the National Ocean Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, a hurricane originally forms over tropical or subtropical waters as a tropical cyclone. A tropical cyclone doesn't become a hurricane until it has a sustained maximum wind of 74 mph. If a tropical cyclone has a maximum sustained surface wind less than 39 mph, it's classified as a tropical depression. If the maximum sustained surface wind is greater than 39 mph, it's classified as a tropical storm.

hurricane emergency planning - roof damage

Collapsed building from a hurricane

Photo Source: Flickr/Alex W.

Once a tropical cyclone is classified as a hurricane, it is categorized to determine its severity. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale rates hurricanes with a category of 1 through 5. The higher the rating, the more powerful the storm is, and the greater potential for destruction.

  • Category 1: sustained wind speeds of 74-95 mph
  • Category 2: sustained wind speeds of 96-110 mph
  • Category 3: sustained wind speeds of 111-129 mph
  • Category 4: sustained wind speeds of 130-156 mph
  • Category 5: sustained wind speeds of 157 mph or higher

Be Prepared

In the event of a hurricane, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) lists some tips on how to prepare your family and your home.

Should an evacuation order be issued in your community, every driver in your family should know the local hurricane evacuation routes. You should also designate a meeting spot and have a plan on where you can stay as your family might not be all together when the evacuation order is given. And don't forget to bring your disaster supply kits. Each kit should contain a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a gallon of water per day per family member for at least three days, first aid supplies, cash, flashlights and batteries, cell phone chargers, and a manual can opener.

hurricane supply kit titems

Hurricane supplies kit items

Photo Source: Flickr/US Embassy

You need to secure your home as well. Start by tying down gutters and downspouts. Secure doors and windows. Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to minimize damage they will cause when blown by hurricane winds. Purchase a portable generator or install one in your home in the event of a power outage.

Emergency Plans

The National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends developing different types of plans besides just one for your family. Business owners need a workplace plan. Schools and daycares need a school emergency plan for children. And pet owners need plans for how to care for and shelter their pets during an emergency.

During a hurricane, typical means of communication could be temporarily rendered useless. So it's critical your family has an emergency communication plan according to FEMA. Should members of your family be separated prior to the hurricane striking, the emergency communication plan should include the following:

  • Safe locations and meeting spots
  • Plans for how to get to those meeting spots
  • Ability to get in touch if cell phones, landlines, and the internet aren't working
  • A way for your family to get emergency alerts
  • A means to let your family know you're safe if you aren't with them.

Also, create a master copy of all contact info for your entire family. The list should include cell phone, home, and work numbers, social media handles, and email addresses. Meeting or gathering places should include three types; in your neighborhood, a local spot in your town, and somewhere outside of your town, such as a relative's house.

Whether you live in an area that's potentially subjected to hurricanes or not, it's important that you take family disaster planning hurricanes seriously. Better to be safe than sorry.

Feature Photo Source: Flickr/NOAA Photo Library

Written by Steve Auger