Also ... Emergency Supplies to Prepare for and Survive a Hurricane
Hurricanes, like tropical storms, are individually named to aid in identifying them. Each hurricane is, essentially, an organized system made up of hundreds of individual thunderstorms.
Historically, individual hurricanes have caused the loss of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damage as they ran their course over populated areas.
Remember: Hurricanes are among the most destructive phenomena of nature. Their appearance is not to be taken lightly.
The safest place to be during any hurricane (or high wind storm) is a basement, away from windows, in the middle room or closet of the house and under a heavy piece of furniture (in case of a roof or wall collapse).
Invest in a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio to keep track of what is going on. These broadcasts are sent out via VHF radio waves, so any receiver that can pick up such broadcasts will do.
If you do not have a basement, go to the inner-most closet or bathroom without windows and hide under heavy furniture. Some companies manufacture prefabricated shelters that you drop into a hole in the ground; they are havens against heavy winds.
During a hurricane, listen to the news to determine which type of hurricane is coming your way so you will know if you should stay home and endure the storm or go to a safe shelter.
(How to Survive A Hurricane: Hurricane Preparedness video footage)
*A sharp, fresh smell in the air that seems unusual.
*If there is a watch or warning posted and you see hail.
*An eerie moment of silence after a thunderstorm.
*Clouds that speed by quickly or in a rotating motion.
*A sound that first sounds like a waterfall and gets louder like a train.
*Debris dropping from the sky.
*A funnel cloud or debris rotating in a funnel pattern.
If you see a tornado that does not appear to be moving to the right or to the left when viewed in relation to the trees and power poles in the distance, it could be headed straight for you.
With a hurricane, you have the luxury of time to prepare in comparison to a tornado. The conditions for a hurricane are usually spotted days before one actually develops. The sky looks similar to that of a tornado, with the greenish cast that is almost black. There is an eerie calm before the storm; then it hits a wide area for awhile.
If you know a hurricane is coming your way, examine the home you live in and listen to news reports so that you can understand the ferocity of the coming storm. That way, you will know if you should either stay or leave for a shelter.
If you stay at home, make sure you have sturdy shutters securely locked to keep your windows (as well as everyone in the house) safe. If you do not have shutters, use heavy plywood and nail it to the window frame. Have your emergency kit handy and alternative lighting ready.
Get one before the hurricane hits: if you wait till the storm has come and gone, you'll be looking for a generator with everyone else. In that case, expect very long lines and seeing empty shelves where generators used to sit in your local hardware store.
Listen to the battery operated radio or NOAA radio so you can hear
what is really going on outside and when it is safe to leave the house.
If you are in a car and spot evidence of oncoming bad winds, leave your
car and take shelter in the nearest building or in a ditch. Do
not hide in an overpass. A strong tornado could have the heavy
steel and concrete on you in an instant.
Hurricane Survival Supplies * Family survival plan (how, where and when will your family meet to take shelter as hurricane warnings are broadcast?)
* Plywood, nails (to board up windows prior to the hurricane, and also to board up damaged roofs or collapsed walls following any high winds)
* Bottled water
* Non-perishable food
* Emergency light and backup batteries
* Inflatable life raft, oars, and manual pump (if low land flooding from tidal surges, etc. is a threat in your specific area)
* First aid kit
* Propane camp stove, back-up propane cannisters (in case of power outage)
* Two-way radios (to communicate with nearby family, neighbors, any elderly on your watch)
The very best option is to leave a trailer hours beforehand. If a hurricane is coming, just go to a shelter during the storm. Relax and read a book, play a game, or talk to whomever is around you.
Again, listen to the news for instructions. It may be advisable for everyone to evacuate the area. If that's the case, take your emergency kit. You may not be going home for awhile.
Category 1 = 74-95mph
Category 2 = 96-110mph
Category 3 = 111-130mph
Category 4 = 131-155mph
Category 5 = 156+ mph
A sharp and constant reader of our site will notice that these categories are similar to the ones we've sighted for tornadoes. There are differences, however. Firstly, hurricanes cannot reach the speeds of the largest twisters, which can reach windspeeds of about 320 mph; but one must remember that hurricanes offer the perfect breeding ground for twisters. A good rule of thumb: if you're watching for or living through a hurricane, you are under threat of experiencing a tornado.
It would be an excellent idea to read our article on tornadoes as well.
The second difference is one we've already stated: the heavy winds of a hurricane, while perhaps not quite as immediately powerful as the biggest twisters, can remain on the ground for quite some time, attacking with constant force.
2.) Determine the level of risk for hurricane impact where you live. Make plans to evacuate if and when the order is given, and know where to go.
3.) Make a family disaster plan for hurricane preparedness and practice your plan as a family.
4.) Prepare 72 hour emergency kits for each family member including pets. Check batteries and replace water and packaged food every six months. Take these with you when you shelter, at home or at a public shelter.
Hurricane watches give 36 hours to prepare, and hurricane warnings give 24 hours to prepare.
6.) Know and post the TV and radio stations that broadcast official emergency and weather information.
7.) Review your sheltering options. Special needs should check with their home health care agencies and register with the Emergency Management Office in their county.
8.) Know the locations of public shelters and evacuation centers. Find out their rules, and decide on the items to take with you. Alcoholic beverages, drugs, weapons and smoking is not permitted in public shelters/evacuation centers. Find out about pets.
9.) Wait for the official "all clear" to be issued from the emergency management authorities before returning home.
10.) When re-entry is allowed into damaged areas, be sure to have verification of your home address. Non-residents should refrain from "sight-seeing," which slows down emergency personnel. Also beware of hazards such as downed lines, gas leaks, and sharp objects. Help your friends and neighbors. Get training in emergency response and volunteer.
A bad combination.
The state of Texas has endured 10 of the nation's 30 worst hurricanes since the 1900 storm that devastated Galveston Island, and thousands are living in high-risk areas with little knowledge of how to survive if the worst happens.
In addition to a disaster supplies kit, Fonseca said families should develop a preparedness plan.
"The plan needs to be known to all family members," she said. "The basic preparedness plan has four steps. Do your homework, create a family plan, make a checklist and update it periodically, and practice and maintain what you have learned."
What Are the Emergency Response Plans for Employer, Day Care, School?"Find out about the emergency response plan for your workplace, your children's school or daycare, and any other place your family spends a great deal of time," she said. "It is also smart to find out about animal care in certain places, since pets may not be allowed in shelters because of health regulations."
Next, Fonseca said [it's important to] to discuss with your family the need to prepare for disaster. Explain the danger of severe weather to children and form a plan with responsibilities for everyone on the "team."
"Establish meeting areas inside and outside your home, and make sure everyone knows when and where to contact each other if separated," says Fonseca. "Families should also decide on escape routes out of their home, and what to do if advised to evacuate."
Third, make a checklist of important emergency aid and update it periodically.
"Post emergency telephone numbers, and make sure the children know how to use them. It is also a good idea to teach everyone how to use a fire extinguisher, turn off the main valves in the house and how to perform basic first aid."
Finally, Fonseca said [people and families should] practice and maintain the plan. Test children's knowledge every six months to help them remember, conduct emergency drills, and check smoke detectors monthly.
Meet With Neighbors, Make Plans for Hurricane Recovery"It is also smart to meet with neighbors and plan how the neighborhood can work together after a disaster. Consider how to help others with special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons, and plan for child care in case parents can't get home," Fonseca said.
"Your local officials will tell you when to evacuate," she said. "During a hurricane watch, listen to your radio or television constantly. Broadcasts will give special weather updates, warning messages, and evacuation information."
When the time comes to evacuate, go as far inland as possible. Use evacuation routes shown on maps, or follow blue hurricane evacuation signs along roads. It is also wise to have a pre-planned place to stay, such as the inland home of a relative of friend.
For answers to specific questions concerning hurricanes and preparing for them, contact your local Emergency Management Office.
Make plans for re-connecting with family members. Discuss scenarios where people are at work or in school or stuck elsewhere in the region when the disaster strikes.