Hurricane Preparedness: What you need to know (and why you should start now)
We get it: life is hectic, especially in the summer, and it’s understandable if preparing for a hurricane-related emergency feels like it doesn’t fit on your to-do list. But preparing for a hurricane is more manageable than you might think, and making a plan now can help to protect you and your family from serious harm.
Once you have a plan and some supplies in place, it’s much easier to update them and stay safe year after year. Richmond and Henrico Health Districts have all the info you need to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming hurricane season.
When is hurricane season at its peak in Central Virginia?
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, but the risk of a serious weather event is at its peak in Central Virginia between mid-August and mid-October.
Last year’s hurricanes were especially severe. What is the prediction for this year?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting an active, above-normal Atlantic hurricane season for 2021. However, experts do not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020. For 2021, NOAA is predicting 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), 6 to 10 of which could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).
What are the risks for our region?
Central Virginia can experience dangerous flooding, destructive winds, and tornadoes when a hurricane makes landfall. Flooding is the most dangerous risk and can be caused quickly by excessive rainfall. In the high heat of August and September, hurricanes can also cause power outages that expose residents to extreme heat conditions in their own homes.
What are the most important steps to prepare?
Keep your cell phone charged when a hurricane or severe storm is in the forecast.
Consider signing up for Emergency Alerts from the National Weather service.
Put together emergency kits for your home and car.
A supply kit for your home should include:
- Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food – a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- First aid supplies and medications
- Clothing and bedding
- Tools and emergency supplies
- Important family documents
- Masks and hand sanitizer to protect against COVID-19 if you must leave your home
Store your emergency kit in an area where you can get to it quickly. Put contents in a large, watertight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that you can move easily. Make sure everyone in your family knows where to find the emergency kit.
A supply kit for your car should include:
- First Aid Kit
- Jumper cables
- Cell phone/charger
- Tool kit
- Canned or dried foods and a can opener
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Masks and hand sanitizer to protect against COVID-19
The Virginia Department of Health has a helpful supply checklist available for download to help you prepare.
If you haven’t yet, get your COVID vaccine, and plan to take other steps to protect yourself against COVID in an emergency.
During an evacuation or other serious emergency, you may encounter other community members in a shelter, hospital, or other public setting. Vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19, but the CDC has more detailed guidance about how best to protect yourself against COVID-19 if you must leave your home during a weather emergency.
Make a plan for your pets.
The Virginia Department of Health has a disaster supply checklist specifically for pets and other helpful tips on how to make sure your pet stays safe during an emergency.
For more information about how to stay safe during and after a hurricane, Check out these resources:
- Virginia Department of Health’s Hurricane Safety site
- VDH Extreme Heat and Heat-Related Illnesses
- CDC Guidelines for Hurricanes, Severe Storms, and COVID-19
What special steps will the health department take to keep us safe during hurricane season in a pandemic?
RHHD will continue to work with the Department of Social Services, local emergency management, and other partners to prepare to stand up emergency shelters if needed due to widespread damage or power outages. VDH is also providing partners across our region with guidance for sheltering during the COVID-19 pandemic, including social distancing, sanitation, and other mitigation measures to be implemented in an emergency shelter.
If emergency shelters are in use, VDH will prioritize COVID testing for shelter sites to help prevent or contain any potential outbreaks.
NOAA predicts an active, above normal, hurricane season this year. Be prepared: Keep your cell phone charged when hurricanes are forecast; prepare emergency kits for your home and car; make a plan for your pets.