As Hurricane Hilda approaches the islands, the Hawaii Red Cross is urging residents to take steps now to stay safer when severe weather threatens. Although weakening, Hilda is currently expected to bring heavy rain and potential tropical storm force winds beginning Wednesday night.
“This has been a busy hurricane season,” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, CEO of the Hawaii Red Cross. “By preparing now, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger not only for Hilda, but also for future severe weather threats.”
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life and death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families take these easy steps to prepare for severe weather:
Download the free Red Cross Emergency App: The Red Cross Emergency App provides people with instant access to emergency alerts and life-saving information. Available for smart phones and tablets, it includes content on what to do before, during and after a variety of severe weather events. Users can customize more than 35 emergency weather alerts based on their location and where loved ones live.
Other features include:
-“Make a Plan” helps families figure out what to do and where to go if a disaster strikes;
-Preloaded emergency preparedness content is available in English And Spanish and can be accessed without mobile connectivity;
-“Family Safe” allows people to notify loved ones who are in an area affected by an emergency or disaster;
-Activate the one touch “I’m safe” messaging that allows you to broadcast reassurance to family and friends via social media outlets that you are out of harm’s way; and
-A real-time map with open Red Cross shelter locations and weather information.
The app is available in app stores by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.
Make an Emergency Plan: Household members should designate a safe place for everyone to go in case of severe weather. Pick a location away from windows, skylights and glass doors that could be broken by strong winds or hail. Plans should include protecting pets and having emergency supplies for them.
Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Pack a first aid kit, at least a seven-day supply of water and foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration, a seven-day supply of essential medications, manual can opener, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents like insurance policies, cell phone chargers, family and emergency contact information, maps of the area and other emergency items. Customize the kit for any household members with special needs.
Heed Severe Weather Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated watch or warning information. A severe weather WATCH means that severe weather is possible in your area. A severe weather WARNING means the severe weather event is already occurring or will occur soon in your area and any necessary precautions should be taken.
Prepare for Heavy Rain and Flooding: Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankle, stop, turn around and go another way. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
-Keep children and pets out of the water, as they are curious and can be harmed by flowing or contaminated water.
-Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
Prepare for High Winds: If time permits, secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind.
Residents can also follow the Hawaii Red Cross on Twitter at @HawaiiRedCross or visit http://www.redcross.org/hi/honolulu/programs-services/disaster-preparedness for more information on what to do before, during and after a disaster. The best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.