The first thing to understand is the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning. The American Red Cross explains that a hurricane watch means that within 48 hours meteorologists expect hurricane conditions to reach that area. Once that time period becomes 36 hours, until hurricane conditions arrive, the watch becomes a warning.
The National Weather Service tells us that a watch means we should 'be on guard'! Keep an eye on the weather reports, go over your emergency plans with your family, and get ready! Then the warning means "this is it, get ready 'cause here it comes"!
There is plenty to do to prepare before any hurricane watches or warnings. Like I have mentioned in my other posts about preparing for bad weather, How To Prepare For Tornado Season and Flooding - It Could Happen To You, it is essential that your household have a family communications plan and an emergency kit. Ready.gov, a preparation and information site managed by FEMA, can walk you through creating your own kit and developing your communications plan.
There are three main areas we are going to focus on in this post: preparing for the storm, what to do during the storm, and recovering from the storm. I gathered information from three sources to present to you: American Red Cross, National Hurricane Center/NOAA, and Ready.gov/FEMA.
Before a storm
- Develop a family communications plan.
- Build your emergency kit.
- Find out if your home is in an area that is vulnerable to wind, flood, and/or storm surge.
- Find out if there are any levees or dams that could affect your residence.
- Be prepared to have to cover your windows. This may mean installing storm shutters or just having plywood on hand to cover the windows. Tape will not prevent your windows from breaking!
- Consider installing straps to your roof! Let EHow.com walk you through it!
- Trimming trees and bushes around the house will make them more wind resistant, and take off dead or dying limbs that may come down during high winds.
- Make sure rain gutters and downspouts are clear!
- Consider reinforcing your garage door. Wind inside a garage can do some expensive structural damage!
- Make sure you have a place to bring in any outdoor items, such as patio furniture and garbage cans. Anything that can't be secured outside must come inside!
- Consider purchasing a generator.
Storm is coming!
- Listen for updates and information from the National Weather Service & FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN!
- Secure items outside and bring in anything that cannot be tied down.
- Close hurricane shutters and doors, or place plywood over the windows and doors.
- In case the power goes out, turn your refrigerator and freezer all the way up and try to open them as little as possible. This way, if the power does go out, your food will stay cooler for longer.
- Make sure your car's gas tank is full.
- Unplug all the small appliances and shut off the propane tank, if you have one.
- Fill the bath tub and other containers with water, so that you have water to flush the toilet, or to wash with.
- Review your communications plan, and ready your emergency kit!
- Consider evacuation if:
- the authorities tell you to leave the area.
- you live in a mobile home, or other unstable structure.
- you live above the 10th floor of a building.
- you live in an area prone to flooding, such as the coast or a flood plain.
Storm is here!
- If you didn't evacuate:
- Stay inside and away from windows and doors!
- Close the doors INSIDE your home!
- Like with a tornado, stay in an interior room on the lowest floor of the home and take cover under a sturdy object like a table.
- Try not to use your phone, unless it's an emergency, of course.
- Be on the alert for tornadoes. As we learned in my post, Let's Talk Hurricanes..., the spiral rain bands can spawn tornadoes.
- Don't be fooled by the eye of the storm! It may seem like it's over, but it's not. Once the eye passes the hurricane winds will come back at full force!
After the storm
- Keep listening, or watching, for weather reports and updates.
- Be on the alert for possible flooding even after the storm has passed.
- If you evacuated, don't return until an official has told you it is safe to do so.
- Try to stay off the roads, but if you must drive go slow and avoid flooded or washed out roads and bridges.
- Keep a look out for downed power lines. If spotted, stay away from them and report them to the power company.
- Take pictures of any damages to your home or belongings, for insurance purposes.
- If the power is out use flashlights, DO NOT USE CANDLES. (This is a new one for me! We always lit candles when I was a kid, but then again we had bad snowstorms, not hurricanes.)
- Don't drink the water until you know that it is safe.
- Throw out any spoiled food, and remember, better safe than sorry. Trust me, not much is worse than food poisoning!
- Again, stay off the phone.
- Make sure you be careful, and protect your pets!
Feel free to check out all three websites that I used, for more information. Hurricane season is coming, so we might as well start getting ready!
Thanks for reading and be safe!