Atlantic Hurricane Season Is 100 Days Away

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by NurseBurnoutSurvey NurseBurnoutSurvey

Has 3 years experience.

Preparing your home and family before a hurricane and knowing how to react after a storm has passed, are fundamental to protecting your property and keeping you and your loved ones safe and secure.

Are You Prepared for Hurricane Season?

Atlantic Hurricane Season Is 100 Days Away

Hurricanes - One of the Most Destructive Natural Disasters

Hurricanes are large tropical storms that form over warm ocean waters that are characterized by winds of 74 miles per hour or greater, and usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning (“How to get ready for hurricanes,” n.d.). Hurricanes are categorized into one of five categories based on wind speeds, with category five being the most severe (“How to get ready for hurricanes,” n.d.). Hurricanes are among the most destructive of natural disasters; in addition to dangerous winds, hurricanes can cause flooding, storm surges and tornadoes (“How to get ready for hurricanes,” n.d.). Coastal communities along the Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions are at highest risk for hurricanes, especially during hurricane season which lasts from June 1 to November 30 (“Preparing for a Hurricane or Other Tropical Storm,” 2019). Although the trajectory of hurricanes can be easy to predict, giving residents in high-risk areas time to prepare, it’s best to be prepared well before a threat occurs. Adequate preparation can help minimize the impact of the storm and should include staying informed, preparing an emergency supply kit, securing your home, and developing plans for evacuation and communication.

Once a hurricane forms, officials can estimate the path it will travel and how strong it will become. A hurricane watch indicates that a hurricane is possible in the area and you should be ready to act, while a hurricane warning indicates that the storm is expected to hit the community and residents should take action immediately (“How to get ready for hurricanes,” n.d.). It is important to stay informed with up-to-date information before, during and after a disaster. Learn about your community’s hurricane warning system, evacuation routes and nearby hurricane shelters (“How to get ready for hurricanes,” n.d.). Local media will provide hurricane progress reports and updates, evacuation orders, details about evacuation routes and shelter locations, and recovery information (FEMA, 2018). Have a battery-powered radio and extra batteries on hand to ensure you can receive official notifications even during a power outage.

Preparing an Emergency Supply Kit

Preparing a hurricane emergency supply kit is critical for those who live in an at-risk area. While not all hurricanes are accompanied by evacuation orders, the storm can still leave residents without water, power, and access to roads. Emergency supply kits should contain enough supplies to last 10 days following a disaster, including a 10-day supply of non-perishable foods, and a gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation, and food and water for pets (FEMA, 2018). Your supply kit should also include a first aid kit, matches, flashlights, batteries, a battery-operated radio, clothing and bedding, a manual can opener, copies of important documents, hygiene supplies and hand sanitizer, water-purifying agents, and needed medical supplies, such as prescriptions or contact lenses (“How to get ready for hurricanes,” n.d.). It’s also a good idea to prepare a smaller, portable emergency supply kit that you can take with you if you must leave your home quickly.

Protecting Your Home

Before disaster strikes, you should also take steps to reinforce and protect your home and belongings. To prevent exterior damage, trim trees and bushes to minimize the risk of broken branches and debris, install storm shutters or have materials on hand to board up windows and doors, move loose outdoor items inside or under shelter, and move your car inside a garage or to another secure location. To prevent interior damage, move valuables to higher shelves or a higher floor in your home, turn off your power if you see flooding, downed power lines, or you have to leave your home, and check your carbon monoxide detector’s battery to prevent CO poisoning (“Preparing for a Hurricane or Other Tropical Storm,” 2019).

Planning an Evacuation Route

In many cases, when officials declare a mandatory evacuation, you won’t have much time to prepare, so planning ahead will strengthen your ability to adapt and recover. Your evacuation plan should address the following: where to go, how to get there, where to stay, and what to bring with you (Preparing for Disaster During COVID-19,” n.d.). Plan a safe evacuation route that will take you 20-50 miles inland. Flooding and downed trees can block your evacuation route, so it is important to have an alternate route as well (Preparing for Disaster During COVID-19,” n.d.). Ensure vehicles are fully fueled and stocked with emergency supplies and important documents such as personal, financial, insurance, medical and other records (Preparing for Disaster During COVID-19,” n.d.). If you don’t own a vehicle, consider making plans with friends or family or call authorities to get a ride if you need transportation to evacuate. Have a plan for where you’ll stay, such as with family or friends, and know the sheltering resources available in your community. Make alternative arrangements for pets, such as with family friends, veterinarians or kennels in safe locations as many local shelters may not accommodate animals. Send medication, toys, food, feeding information and other supplies with them (“How to get ready for hurricanes,” n.d.). Lastly, develop an emergency communication plan to identify alternative ways of staying in touch with loved ones in the event that power is lost, and cell phone service is disrupted – this may involve identifying a family meeting place in case you are separated (FEMA, 2018). If you were evacuated, return home only after authorities advise it is safe to do so.

Communicable Disease Outbreaks

Communicable disease outbreaks can occur when sanitation and hygiene are compromised as a result of a disaster. Hurricanes create conditions that facilitate the spread of infections and can damage public health infrastructure which can disrupt access to medical care (Shukla, Woc-Colburn, & Weatherhead, 2018). In order to reduce the spread of infectious disease after a hurricane, first responders and evacuation centers should implement infection control protocols, and healthcare providers should ensure that patients have a sufficient supply of necessary medications and copies of their medical records (Shukla, Woc-Colburn, & Weatherhead, 2018). To be safe and minimize the risk of infection, residents should avoid drinking tap water until authorized to do so, avoid flooded areas, throw away any food that has come in contact with floodwaters which may carry waterborne diseases, chemicals, and immediately remove or air out water-damaged items to prevent mold growth.

References

FEMA. (2018, April 30). Create Your Family’s Hurricane Preparedness Plan [Press release]

How to get ready for hurricanes. (n.d.)

Preparing for Disaster During COVID-19. (n.d.). 

Preparing for a Hurricane or Other Tropical Storm. (2019, October 01)

Shukla, M.A., Woc-Colburn, L. & Weatherhead, J.E. Infectious Diseases in the Aftermath of Hurricanes in the United States. Curr Trop Med Rep 5, 217–223 

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