The importance of having a hurricane emergency preparedness checklist
The Atlantic hurricane season is underway and many people are still unprepared. Do you know the kinds of items that should be on your hurricane emergency preparedness list. In my mind, a hurricane emergency preparedness checklist is important for three reasons:
- Gives an idea of things you need to prepare.
- Having a hurricane emergency preparedness checklist also prevents you from panicking if a hurricane approaches.
- Gives an idea of the supplies that you need during and after a hurricane when many resources can be unavailable in the community.
Hurricane emergency preparedness checklist video by the UC Santa Cruz Office of Emergency Services
The ferocity of hurricanes indicate the importance of having a Hurricane Emergency Preparedness Checklist
Hurricanes can be very disastrous. This in itself is a good reason to prepare a hurricane emergency preparedness checklist. According to Mirriam Webster (2019), hurricanes tend to occur particularly in the western Atlantic, and are characterized by heavy rain, thunder, and lightning
The timing of the Atlantic hurricane season coincides with summer. The season generally lasts from June 1st to November 30th each year (wikipedia.com). During the period, tropical most cyclones develop and become active. People in the Atlantic region are particularly vulnerable. They in particular should have in place hurricane emergency preparedness lists.
People in the Atlantic basin need these lists because hurricanes can develop with wind speeds starting from 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or greater (Mirriam Webster, 2019).. Hurricane wind speeds can increase up to 252 km/hr (157 mph). According to nasa.gov, (2017). hurricane wind speeds of 252 km/hr (157 mph) are the same as that of a high speed train, like Amtrak.
Some people tend to ignore hurricane warnings and avoid making any kind of preparation, much less a hurricane emergency preparedness checklist. However, the following descriptions about hurricanes should alert us as to their danger:
- low pressure system or tropical cyclone (hurricane.com, 2019) During periods of low pressure, weather conditions change and can become hazardous.
- large, swirling storms that form over warm ocean waters (nasa.gov, 2017). During storms, wind speeds can increase to dangerous velocities. Much damage can be caused.
Flooding, tornadoes, landslides and damage to buildings, trees and bridges can result from hurricane force winds. Much damage can therefore ensue. People who inhabit areas close to or below water levels, such as seas, rivers and lakes are particularly prone to injury. One of these is due to the effect of storm surges which happen when walls of water are pushed unto the land. Sometimes, these can reach to the tops of buildings as in the case of Hurricane Dorian.
When hurricane winds push a wall of water unto land, this is referred to as a storm surge. Heavy rain and storm surge from a hurricane can cause flooding, thus forcing evacuations.
Hurricane categories or wind speeds according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale indicate the importance of having a hurricane emergency preparedness checklist
When we think of the wind speeds of hurricanes, we realize that they should not be taken lightly. NASA (2017), explains that hurricanes are categorized on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale based on wind speeds. The more dangerous hurricanes have the greatest wind velocity:
- Category 1: Winds 119-153 km/hr (74-95 mph) – this is faster than a cheetah.
- Category 2: Winds 154-177 km/hr (96-110 mph) – these winds are as fast as or faster than a baseball pitcher’s fastball.
- Category 3: Winds 178-208 km/hr (111-129 mph) – these winds are similar, or close, to the serving speed of many professional tennis players.
- Category 4: Winds 209-251 km/hr (130-156 mph) – these winds are faster than the world’s fastest roller coaster.
- Category 5: Winds more than 252 km/hr (157 mph) – these winds are extremely dangerous and similar, or close, to the speed of some high-speed trains.
The events in hurricane warnings and hurricane watches also indicate the importance of having a Hurricane Emergency Preparedness Checklist
Hurricane warnings are given when hurricane conditions are expected within the specified area. Winds are usually 74 mph or higher, Hurricane warnings are usually issued 36 hours in advance. This gives people adequate time to prepare. This is because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach 39 to 73 mph.
During hurricane warnings, individuals should complete storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials during a hurricane warning.
When a hurricane watch is issued, it means that hurricane conditions with winds of 74 mph or higher are possible within the area under threat. Hurricane watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds in an area.
During a hurricane watch, individuals should secure their homes and review their evacuation plan in the event that local officials issue a hurricane or tropical storm warning.
Three parts of a hurricane
NASA (2017 says that a hurricane has three discernible parts that indicate the degree of strength:
- The Eye: This is the “hole” which is located at the center of the storm. When the eye of a storm passes over an area, people can expect the winds to be lighter, skies to be partly cloudy, and sometimes even clear.
- The Eye wall: The eye wall is a ring of thunderstorms which swirl around the eye. Winds are strongest and rain is heaviest in this area.
- Rain bands: Rain bands are bands of clouds and rain which extend far out from the eye wall of the hurricane. These bands stretch for hundreds of miles and contain thunderstorms and sometimes tornadoes.
Items that you need in your hurricane emergency preparedness checklist
With all of the preceding in mind, a hurricane emergency preparedness checklist is absolutely important during the Atlantic hurricane season. You need to have:
- First aid kit.
- One gallon of water.
- Each person needs at least three days supply for drinking and sanitation.
- Extra water and food for pets.
- A manual can opener for canned foods.
- Three days supply of non-perishable food.
- Prescription medicine and glasses
- Battery -powered or hand-crank radio.
- Flashlights and extra batteries in the event of a power failure.
- Moist towelettes and garbage bags for personal sanitation.
- NOAA weather radio with tone alert and a local map.
- It is also recommended that you keep cash on hand.
- Fill your vehicle’s tank with gas.
Hurricane information websites
These hurricane information websites will help you to prepare a hurricane emergency preparedness checklist
What other hurricane emergency preparedness checklists do you need to make?
In addition to preparing a list of supplies during the hurricane season, the United States National Hurricane Center (2019) recommends that persons living in the Atlantic basin need to pay attention to the following important checklists
Gather information about vulnerabilities
Individuals should assess risks such as the vulnerability of their home to storm surge, flooding and wind. You should understand the difference between terms such as hurricane watches and warnings as these indicate the type of action that you need to take.
You should also contact the offices of your local National Weather Service office and local government/emergency management in order to determine what you need to do in the even of emergencies. These include the location of hurricane shelters.
Keep a list of emergency contacts
You should keep a list of emergency contacts which should include telephone numbers for:
- Local Utilities
- Local Hospitals
- Local TV Stations
- Local Radio Stations
- County Law Enforcement
- Local American Red Cross
- Your Property Insurance Agent
- County Public Safety Fire/Rescue
- Emergency Management Offices
- State, County and City/Town Government
Check More at https://tinyurl.com/y6acgzcr
Analyze the degree of risk that you may incur from a passing storm
Visit the websites below to gather information about the degree of risks that may occur during a hurricane and how you can reduce them:
- Go to Fema to check your hazards risks – FEMA’s Map Portal.
- Examine your risk for flooding at FloodSmart.gov .
- Read more on hurricane preparedness at the National Hurricane Center’s website.
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