Hurricane Season Peaks

As of September 10, we are now at the peak of the Hurricane season that runs from June 1 to November 30th each year (see the graphic below).

Preparing for and reacting to a hurricane or tropical storm threat

Hurricanes are unpredictable and can result in strong winds and in many cases severe flooding.  Often strong winds arise from tornados that spin off of hurricanes.  Flooding can occur both along the coast and from rivers overflowing inland.  

Additionally, newly developed urban areas may result in unexpected flooding if the capacity of drainage systems is overwhelmed.  It is not only hurricanes to be concerned about since a tropical storm with mild winds may be extremely dangerous due to massive rainfall.   Slow moving systems can result in excessive amounts of rainfall and flooding such as what happened last year with Hurricane Harvey.  Preparation is necessary for the entirety of hurricane season.  Preparation includes being ready to evacuate quickly if necessary and particularly if directed.  Be aware that roads may be congested and you do not want to be caught out on the highway during a dangerous storm.   What is important is to not wait until the last minute to make a decision.  Have a plan and communicate the plan to family members so everyone knows what to expect.  If you decide to stay at home be aware of power outages that could last for weeks.  You will need food, water, and supplies for your family.  This would include flashlights, generators, etc.  Be ready to protect openings and make last minute repairs to prevent wind and water from entering.  It is a good idea to have tools handy as well as tarps.  Make sure you have enough medicine.  Provide for your pets (food, medicine, and safety).  Know where the nearest shelter is.  Not only should you have a plan but you should have a back-up plan as well.  Family members should know where to meet if they are separated prior to the event. 

Don’t count on the internet to be up and running.  Have plenty of back up batteries for not only lights, but also for phones and radios. It is always wise to have water available (a minimum of 3 gallons per person per day) as well as a high quality water filter.  Filling gallon milk jugs with water prior to an event can be helpful as well as stocking up on bottled water.   You may also need non-drinkable water for cleaning and other household uses.  Filling a bath tub might provide such as source of water.  Your source of clean water may become contaminated, therefore have a safe alternative rather than depending on tap water.

For basic safety ensure that you have a first aid kit, up-to-date and fully charged fire extinguishers, rope, duct tape, axes, saws, and protective clothing (gloves, boots, eye protection, etc.).   After a storm, it might be wise to protect your head from falling tree limbs or other debris which could fall on you.  If you don’t have a hard hat, you may be able to use a bike helmet for this purpose.  Do not use a chain saw after a hurricane if you are not fully familiar with its operation and all safety measures. 

Don’t forget to have matches or other alternatives available in case you need to start a fire.  Be sure there is plenty of ventilation when using fire and preferably only start a fire in a controlled area outside since the vapors can be deadly in a confined space.

If you have a generator, be sure that you have adequate fuel, and that it is stored in a safe location.  It is critical that generators not be run inside a home or any place that is not properly ventilated.  Carbon monoxide can be deadly.  Carbon monoxide detectors are relatively cheap to purchase and may provide additional security for your health.

Be careful that there are no exposed wires or power lines down.   If electricity were to come back on, what think is a “dead wire” may actually be a “live wire.” 

Avoid driving your vehicle through water.  Many deaths are caused when people attempt to drive their car through water.  Running water has the ability to sweep your car off the road or to over-turn it.  And, it is impossible to know the depth of standing water as well as what might be under it.

Having cash can be beneficial.   ATM machines could go down if power goes out.  Fill your car with gas prior to the hurricane preferably at the first indication of the storm threat.   Gas lines are generally long at the last minute, the price of gas may surge, and there is no guarantee that you may be able to purchase the gas you need to evacuate.

In a full scale disaster, stores may be empty and you may not be able to obtain necessities.

Be aware that the path of a hurricane can change quickly.  Atmospheric conditions can be complex which can make predictions highly uncertain. 

At the time of a hurricane be prepared to shelter in a closet or the safest room available.  Watch out for flying debris, sharp objects, electrical wires, etc.  Everyone needs to do whatever is best to maintain clear thinking.  You want to protect your life and that of your love ones first, but do what is necessary to protect property as well.  Don’t leave your car parked under a tree.    Secure lawn furniture or take it inside.   Look for potential hazards around your property that could result in flying objects.

If you have hurricane shutters, use them.  In some cases, it is important to use plywood to protect windows and openings. In low lying areas it may be necessary to use sand bags to help prevent flooding.  Know where your insurance policy is and have phone numbers available.

For insurance purposes, take pictures of your home well before a storm.  This includes not only outside of your home but inside as well.  Don’t forget to take photos of what is inside closets and drawers.  After a storm where you encounter damage, also take pictures of the damaged property.  Also, remember that it is your responsible to mitigate your loss from further damage once a storm occurs.  Cover openings with tarps to prevent rain from entering your home.  Remove hazards from your yard that could damage you and your family as well as others.

Communicate with your neighbors, family, and friends prior to a storm.  Let them know what your plans are and find out theirs. If you are fortunate enough not to have any damage or injuries after an event, check on your neighbors and get in touch with family and friends to identify ways you might be able to assist them.  However, do not venture out on the roads after a storm until it is safe to do so.

 

Other Resources for Dealing with Disasters

There are many resources that will assist in hurricane and other disaster preparations.  Please refer to  the Florida Division of Emergency Management website at www.FloridaDiaster.org for more details as to how to “Plan & Prepare.”

The Office of Insurance Regulation contains information regarding your insurance as well as other helpful information – see https://www.floir.com/

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) is an excellent source of information and the latest news – see www.flash.org

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) has a wealth of information including videos that are helpful regarding a number of different types of disasters, safety measures, and insurance information – see www.iii.org

The federal government (FEMA) has some very useful information at www.fema.gov

Information regarding the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is also found on FEMA’s website at www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program

The U.S. Department of Treasury houses the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIP) and is found at www.treasury.gov/resource-center/fin-mkts/Pages/program.aspx

 

Useful Weather Websites

https://www.wunderground.com/

http://www.tigerrisk.com/resources/tigeralert

https://www.noaa.gov/

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

http://www.wctv.tv/weather/tropics