The time to prepare for a hurricane is well before the start of hurricane season, which begins June 1, 2013 and continues through Nov. 30, 2013. Not only do the strong winds associated with hurricanes can cause severe damage but hurricanes can also result in storm surges, floods and tornadoes.
Early Predictions for 2013 Hurricane Season:
Hurricane severity and the number of hurricanes that impact Virginia can vary each season and predicting severe winter weather far in advance is very difficult. This year, forecasters anticipate an above-average hurricane season due to the combination of an anomalously warm tropical Atlantic and a relatively low likelihood of El Niño. While forecasting capabilities continue to improve, the path and intensity of hurricanes can constantly change.
Here are several steps you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this hurricane season.
Understand Weather Terminology
Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on the predicted wind speed and the potential to cause damage:
Check Your Emergency Supply Kit
Before hurricane season begins, check the contents of the emergency kits in your car and home and replace items that may have expired. If you do not have an emergency kit, a supply checklist with basic items that every supply kit should include is available for download.
Reduce Outdoor Hazards
Debris, such as signs, roofing material, siding, and small items left outside, can cause injury and damage property due to strong winds from a hurricane. Before the storm be sure to:
Make an Evacuation Plan
Before a hurricane, it is important to know the evacuation routes in your area should you need to leave due to flooding or a storm surge. Discuss your evacuation plan with your loved ones, especially if you are in a low-lying area or within the greatest potential path of the storm. Find out if you live in an area that may be prone to flooding due to storm surge.
If a hurricane warning is issued for your area or you are directed to evacuate the area:
During the storm, stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors. Because of the strong winds associated with a hurricane, flying debris and falling trees are possible. Seek shelter in an interior area of your home and refrain from going outside; winds often pick up strength as the eye of the storm passes.
Other tips for staying safe during a hurricane:
Many injuries occur in the aftermath of a hurricane.
It is important to take careful precautions to ensure food safety after a power outage. Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more, and any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture. Just remember, “When in doubt, throw it out!”
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is poisonous to breathe. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up when the exhaust from grills or generators is not properly vented. The gas emitted by these sources can linger for hours, even after the generator or grill has shut off. Operate all gasoline-powered devices such as generators outdoors and never bring them indoors.
Excess moisture and standing water contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. When returning to a home that has been flooded, be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk for your family.
Flood Water Safety
Hurricanes can cause storm surges in coastal areas, as well as create heavy rainfall. This causes flood waters to rise and pool on streets and throughout neighborhoods. Before a storm, find out whether your home is located in a flood prone area and prepare an emergency plan in case you are told to evacuate.
Be mindful of the amount of time spent outdoors removing debris after the hurricane; work slowly to avoid exertion and to prevent back injury. Other steps to take to help prevent muscle and bone injury include: