A hurricane is a severe tropical storm which produces powerful winds, heavy rain, high waves and storm surges. It can have a devastating effect, as can be seen from the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans.
On average around 90 tropical storms develop across the world every year, mostly in the western North Atlantic, the South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, although not all of them are as devastating as Hurricane Katrina. Even with modern weather forecasting technology, the amount of time you may have to prepare before an hurricane strikes is still relatively short, so if you live in an area that could be susceptible to hurricanes it is important to take time to plan and prepare before the hurricane season begins.
Your planning should take into account the needs of your immediate family, and it is best to involve as many of them in the planning as possible. That way, if a hurricane does strike, everyone will already have an idea of what they are expected to do. If you are decide or are ordered to evacuate, every minute will count. Because of traffic congestion on evacuation routes, a delay of just an hour or so could add several hours to the time to takes you to safely clear the area.
First, if you plan to stay and sit out the storm, a safe area and escape routes should be located within your own home and local community. You should also take into account if your location is likely to be affected by in-land flooding caused by storm surges. A plan should then be drawn up of how you would evacuate yourself from your town/city if need be. You should also check your home insurance to make sure it will cover you for damage caused by flooding.
In case you are separated, nominate a person who lives in another area of the country as single point of contact for your entire family.
You should also put together a disaster supply kit. The National Hurricane Centre suggests that your disaster supply kit should consist of:
• Water - this should consist of at least 1 gallon daily, per person for 3 - 7 days
• Food - you should carry enough for 3 - 7 days and it should consist of non-perishable or canned food, with cooking equipment, fuel, and utensils
• Blankets and pillows for comfort
• Seasonal clothing, waterproofs and sturdy shoes
• First Aid Kit, also containing any medicines or Prescription Drugs
• Flashlight and batteries
• Mobile telephone
• Cash and Credit Cards
• Toys, Books and Games
• Important documents such as insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, and Social Security card should be kept in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
• Pet care items such as proper identification, immunization records and medications, a carrier or cage and muzzle or leash
• All vehicles should be fully fueled
This list is by no means exhaustive, and it is important to think of any essential items that may be personal to your circumstances, or that may be needed by children and the elderly.
If you had to leave your home at short notice, what would you need to take with you? You will only have limited space – so it is important not to take items for sentimental reasons which would be largely useless in a survival situation. No one item is worth more than your life.