Hurricanes are dangerous tropical storms that form in warm ocean basins. These giant storms follow a natural progression, build force and gain momentum as winds rotate around a central position.
In the U.S., hurricanes may affect any of the areas along the East Coast or the Gulf Coast, which means that states running from Texas to Maine are susceptible to catastrophic damage. Most hurricanes in the U.S. occur between May 15 and November 30, which is why this period is called Hurricane Season.
Hurricanes may range in size from 80 miles to 400 miles in diameter, but they are categorized by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which relies on the speed of the winds they produce:
- Category 1 – 74 mph to 95 mph
- Category 2 – 96 mph to 110 mph
- Category 3 – 111 mph to 129 mph
- Category 4 – 130 mph to 156 mph
- Category 5 – 156 mph and faster
Have Hurricane Preparedness Plan
Hurricanes are unique among natural disasters in that our modern technology can provide a warning ranging from a few days to more than a week. However, a rush for supplies usually occurs during this time, making them difficult or sometimes impossible to obtain. Having a hurricane preparedness plan well in advance is the best way to deal with these dangerous storm systems.
The first task to complete is to gather information and assess the risks for your particular area. If you live near the coast, you may be in an evacuation zone. To discover your risk for hurricane damage, you should call your local emergency management office or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
After you have gathered information, you will need to develop a disaster response plan. This plan should include all of the following:
- Where to stay in your home (create a safe zone)
- Safe places to stay away from home
- A primary and alternate route to get away from your home
- How to prepare your home for a hurricane (see our safety tips)
- Emergency supplies that you may need
- How to recover after the hurricane has passed
- Workplace plans and disaster recovery plans for businesses
Emergency Supplies for Hurricanes
When putting together your emergency kit, you must consider six types of supplies:
- First aid
- Special items
At a minimum, you should have enough food and water for three days, but it recommended to have enough for two weeks.
Food should consist of non-perishable items that do not need to be refrigerated, prepared or cooked. In addition, the food should not require you to use any of your water. Following are the best types of food to store for hurricanes:
- Ready-to-eat canned goods like fruit, vegetables, and prepped foods
- Canned milk and juice
- Foods high in protein and sugar to provide energy
- Baby food or food for restricted diets, if necessary
- Comfort foods to reduce stress
Optimally, food should be stored in a dry, cool area, and replace specific items as they expire. In addition to food, you will want to have an assortment of cooking and dining supplies, including the following:
- Cups, plates, and utensils
- Manual bottle opener and can opener
- Camp stove, solid fuel stove or Sterno cans
You will need at least one gallon of water per person per day. While most people will only need to drink two quarts of water per day, two quarts per person should be reserved for food preparation and washing. Store water in plastic bottles or containers that will not decompose or break.
Your first-aid kit should contain a variety of bandages, sterile dressings, and gauze. It should also include medical tape, latex gloves, antibacterial ointment, alcohol-based sanitizer, scissors, and tweezers. In addition, it is a good idea to stock your first-aid kit with non-prescription drugs that may be needed, such as aspirin.
You will also want to include supplies for personal hygiene, including toilet paper, paper towels, soap and feminine products.
Clothing and Bedding
Clothing and bedding should be available as follows:
- Shoes or boots
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Hats, gloves and warm coats
Include the following tools and other supplies in your emergency kit:
- Copies of important documents (e.g. birth certificates, passports)
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Cash or traveler’s checks
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches or lighter in a waterproof container
- Signal flares
- Thread and needle
- Mechanical tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and hammers
- Plastic sheeting
- Aluminum foil
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