Getting ready for hurricanes
Posted May 28, 2010 1:12 p.m. EDT
It’s always better to be safe than sorry. That’s a sentence many of us have heard from our mothers throughout our childhood. When it comes to surviving what Mother Nature dishes out, this motto is one that really sticks.
Unlike tornadoes, hurricanes often give us some time to prepare. The WRAL Weather Team starts tracking these storms days if not weeks before they make landfall. While nailing down the exact location and time these storms will strike is very difficult, they do allow us time to prepare for their arrival. We will have everything you will need to know both on television and our website. We will let you know what you need to before, during, and after the storm.
Another great source of information is a NOAA Weather Radio, sometimes called an "All-Hazards Radio". This radio will give you information from the local National Weather Service offices. The radio can be battery-powered so when the power goes off, you will still have access to vital information. Having extra batteries on hand is also very important, too — not just for the radio but for flashlights and even games to keep your children entertained.
Evacuations and shelters
Local emergency managers will evacuate areas in risk of flooding or extreme wind damage before the storm arrives. As a storm gets close to the coast, they will make announcements about where your local shelter is located. These shelters are set up to keep you safe, but they will not have everyday things you may need. Knowing in advance what you will need to be as comfortable as you can be is a great idea. If you take medication daily then you will need to bring that with you. Most shelters have cots to sleep on, but you will want to bring your own bedding; it will make sleeping on a cot a little easier to handle. Bring cards and games for the kids to play, books to read, and anything that will help the time go by faster. You will not be able to bring your pets to most shelters, but there are some pet-friendly shelters. Now is the time to think about Fido and Fluffy and whether your community will have a pet-friendly shelter or whether you will need to make other arrangements.
If you plan to stay at home, be prepared to live without electricity and other utilities for a few days or more. Quite often, homes — even well inland — lose power due to downed power lines. Water, phone, cable, and Internet outages are also common, too. While crews work hard to get things restored, having what you need to be comfortable and survive will make the process much easier.
Here is a list of what the American Red Cross recommends you do before the storm hits.
- Check your disaster supplies and replace or restock as needed.
- Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture).
- Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out.
- Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
- Fill your car’s gas tank.
- Talk with members of your household and create an evacuation plan. Planning and practicing your evacuation plan minimizes confusion and fear during the event.
- Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs as required and make plans for your pets to be cared for.
- Evacuate if advised by authorities. Be careful to avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Because standard homeowners insurance does not cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program.
Other common items that will make weathering this storm easier: hand-operated can openers, your grill, and a full propane tank or a couple of bags of charcoal.
Having lived through many hurricanes here in North Carolina, I can say it is not a comfortable time but being prepared definitely makes it better.