Experts are now calling for a more active hurricane season this year, reporting we may face the most active season in the last seven years. The American Red Cross has steps you can take now to be prepared should a hurricane or tropical storm head for your community.
Forecasters now predict a 60 percent chance of an above-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic, up from 45 percent predicted in May. There could be 14 to 19 named storms and 2 to 5 major hurricanes this year. At present Hurricane Franklin is headed toward Mexico and experts are watching two disturbances which could bring heavy rain to the Leeward Islands, the Bahamas and parts of Florida.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs through November 30. Remember: hurricanes cause problems for people in coastal areas, but can also cause damage hundreds of miles inland. In 2011, tropical storms caused devastating flooding in Pennsylvania and New Jersey hundreds of miles from the coast.
WHAT TO DO Talk with your family about what to do if a hurricane strikes. Discussing hurricanes ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for younger children.Make sure you have access to NOAA radio broadcasts. Find an online NOAA radio station. Search for a NOAA radio app in your app store. Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio in the Red Cross Store.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 flash drive that you can carry with you on your house or car keys.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.
THREE EASY STEPSBuild 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. Many of these items are available through the Red Cross Store at redcrossstore.org.Talk with household members and create an evacuation plan. Practicing the plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.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.
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.
People should also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to select up to 35 different severe weather and emergency alerts on their mobile device and be able to find a shelter. 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.