Hurricane season is underway, but it’s still early enough to build your kit and make a plan if a hurricane is likely to affect your area.
Hurricane season begins June 1 and continues until November 30. This year, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center are calling for 12 to 17 named storms. Of those, up to nine could become hurricanes with up to four possibly developing into major storms.
Hurricanes can bring life-threatening conditions. Winds during major hurricanes can reach 111 mph or more. Storm surge, or flooding, also can be deadly.
An emergency kit is important for you, your family and pet, especially if local authorities ask you to evacuate.
What should your kit include? The basics of any emergency kit include the following:
- Food and water to last for your family and pets for several days
- First aid kit
- Clothing and bedding
- Important papers and documents
- Tools and emergency supplies
When a hurricane is approaching, know where your nearest emergency shelter is located and check websites, social media and local media for advisories from local authorities in case you are asked to evacuate.
The rest of your hurricane plan should include writing down emergency numbers and learning which shelters are pet friendly. You also can download the FEMA app to receive alerts and buy a NOAA weather radio to stay informed. Learn your evacuation zone.
It’s also helpful to learn weather terms such as hurricane watches and warnings.
A Storm Surge Watch means that it’s possible that life-threatening flooding will move inland from the shore, somewhere within the area described in the watch, usually within 48 hours.
A Tropical Storm Watch means that tropical conditions (constant winds of 39-73 mph) are possible withing a specific area within 48 hours.
A Hurricane Watch is sent by authorities 48 hours before tropical storm-force winds are expected.
A Hurricane Warning means that a hurricane that will bring winds of 74 mph or more is expected in the area. The warning usually is sent by authorities 36 hours before tropical storm-force winds are expected to give people time to prepare before winds make it impossible to do so.
The Virginia Department of Health has lots of helpful information on how to prepare for a storm, how to make an emergency kit and what to do during and after a hurricane. Visit the VDH website to learn more and download a helpful checklist of emergency supplies.