The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports El Nino has ended in the Pacific Ocean which could lead to a busier than first predicted hurricane season in the Atlantic. NOAA is now expecting 10-17 named storms of which as many as 9 will become hurricanes with 4 becoming major storms.
The American Red Cross is preparing to respond if necessary - taking stock of supplies and making sure disaster volunteers are ready to respond - and urges everyone to get ready too.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NOW
- The best way for you to be prepared for these dangerous storms is to create a plan now. Determine your risk. Hurricanes cause problems for people in coastal areas but can also cause damage hundreds of miles inland.
- Talk with household members and create an evacuation plan. Practicing the plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
- Build an emergency kit with a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for an infant if applicable, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area and emergency contact information.
- If someone already has a disaster kit, now is the time make sure the food and water is still okay to consume and that copies of important documents are up to date. If they already have an emergency plan for their household, they should talk about it again with family members so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.
- Be informed. Learn about the community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for pets.
- Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to select up to 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts on their mobile device. The content includes expert guidance on what to do before, during and after different emergencies or disasters from home fires to hurricanes. All Red Cross apps can be found in smartphone app stores by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.
- Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a safe-deposit box. You may need quick, easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place less likely to be damaged if a hurricane causes flooding. Take pictures on a phone and keep copies of important documents and files on a USB flash drive that you can carry with you on your keyring.
- Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or invest in one-half inch marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit your doors and windows.
- Identify a place to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools and trash cans (away from stairs and exits) to prevent them from being moved by high winds and possibly hurting someone.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on the awnings.
This year, getting life-saving information about impending hurricanes is easier than ever. Just ask ‘Alexa’. You can activate the Hurricane Alert Skill for popular Amazon Alexa-enabled devices including the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show and Echo Spot. You will then be able to get hurricane watch and warning notices for locations where you or your loved ones live and access Red Cross expertise on how to prepare for the approaching hurricane and keep your family as safe as possible. Learn more here. Amazon, Echo, and Alexa and all related logos are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.
PLEASE GIVE BLOOD Hurricanes and floodwaters often cancel community blood drives and donation centers in affected areas. To prepare for the storm season and ensure the Red Cross has a readily available blood supply for patients across the country, eligible individuals are encouraged to give blood and platelets. To schedule an appointment today, please download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800- RED CROSS.