As weather forecasters keep a watchful eye on the progress of Hurricane Joaquin, the Red Cross reminds Mainers that preparing for Joaquin —or any other disaster — pays off when severe weather strikes the state.
A survey by the American Red Cross and The Weather Channel found that few Americans living in coastal counties had prepared for severe tropical storms and hurricanes. Only about half of those surveyed had an evacuation plan or a plan for communicating with family members if they are separated. Nearly a third of people did not have an emergency kit with supplies.
“Preparedness is critical when it comes to life-threatening disasters such as hurricanes,” said Larry French, Red Cross Disaster Program Manager. “It’s important that families and individuals make time to build an emergency kit, create an evacuation plan, and download the free Red Cross Emergency App to help make it through the next storm safely.
Prepare before a storm hits
Hurricanes are powerful and dangerous storms that often bring heavy rain and flooding. Destructive winds can down power lines, uproot trees, and damage homes. On the coast, storm surges can travel several miles inland, destroying everything in their path. Even inland communities can experience hurricanes, often with powerful winds and widespread flooding.
Some things you can do to prepare:
- Pack a disaster kit – Include a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible), First aid kit, whistle, dust masks, moist towelettes, garbage bags, and medications. Learn more at http://www.redcross.org/prepare .
- Make a disaster plan for your family, and practice the plan.
- Bring inside any items that can be picked up by the wind.
- Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and get some extra cash.
Download the free Red Cross Emergency App, which includes information on Red Cross shelters, a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light, and alarm. Its “I’m Safe” feature tells family that you’re okay. Visit redcross.org/mobileapps
Finally, it’s helpful to know the difference between hurricane threat levels.
- A Hurricane Watch is when conditions are a threat within 48 hours. It’s then time to review your hurricane plans. Get ready to act if a warning is issued, and stay informed.
- A Hurricane Warning is when conditions are expected within 36 hours. It’s then time to complete your storm preparations and leave the area if directed to do so by authorities.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters, supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood, teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid, and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. Learn more at MaineRedCross.org, on Twitter (ARC_Maine), or Facebook (American Red Cross of Maine).