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Hurricane Safety

Hurricane Safety

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Tips on hurricane safety
Tips on hurricane safety

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Published by: Catholic Charities USA on Jul 03, 2014
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Hurricane Safety
 A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone or severe tropical storm that forms in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. A typical cyclone is accompanied by  thunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of
 winds near the earth’s surface.
  All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Parts of the Southwest United States and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rains and floods each year from hurricanes spawned off Mexico. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30. Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Hurricane can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and mircro-bursts.  Additionally, hurricanes can create storm surges along the coast.
 
Storm surge and large waves produced by hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property along the coast.
 
 A storm surge is an abnormal rise
of water generated by a storm’s winds. Storm surge can
reach heights well over 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastline. In the northern hemisphere, the highest surge values typically occur in the right front quadrant of a hurricane coincident with onshore flow; in the southern hemisphere, the left front quadrant. More intense and larger hurricanes produce higher surge. In addition, shallower offshore  waters contribute to higher storm surge inundation. Storm surge is by far the greatest threat to life and property along the immediate coast. Slow moving hurricanes traveling into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain. Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides. Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall.
Pre-Event
 
Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind (bicycles, lawn furniture).
 
Close your windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you do not have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.
 
 Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. Keep them closed as much as possible so that food will last longer if the power goes out.
 
 Turn off propane tank.
 
Unplug small appliances.
 
Fill your car’s gas tank.
 
 
Find out about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register
family members with special medical needs and make plans for your pets to be cared for.
 
 
Obey evacuation orders. Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges
.
 
Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
 
Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
 
Make plans to secure your property:
o
 
Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection
for windows. A second option is to board up w 
indows with 5/8” exterior grade or
marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Another year-round option would be installation of laminated glass with impact-resistant glazing. Tape does not prevent  windows from breaking.
o
 
Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This  will reduce roof damage.
 
Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
 
Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
 
Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
 
Determine how and where to secure your boat.
 
Install a generator for emergencies.
 
If in a high-rise building, when high winds are present, be prepared to take shelter on a lower floor because wind conditions increase with height, and in a small interior room without  windows. When flooding may be occurring, be prepared to take shelter on a floor safely above the flooding and wave effects.
 
If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure
 – 
 such shelter are particularly hazardous during hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
 Just-in-Time
 
If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
 
Listen to the radio or TV for information.
 
Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
 
 Turn off utilities if  instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
 
 Turn off propane tanks
 
 Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
 
Moor your boat if time permits.
 
 
Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
 
Find out how to keep food safe during and after and
 emergency.
 
Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
 
Close all interior doors
 – 
 secure and brace external doors.
 
Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm
 – 
 winds will pick up again.
 
 Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
 
Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
 
 Avoid elevators.
Recovery
 
Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
 
Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
 
If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
 
Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
 
Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
 
Stay out of any building that has water around it.
 
Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
 
 Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
 
Use flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles.
o
 
Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering - the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
 
 Av 
oid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
 
 
Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
 
 Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
 
 Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
 
Use the
 telephone only for emergency calls.
 
Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building or your home  was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
 
 Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.

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