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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season to be more active than historical averages with regards to the number of named storms and hurricanes. Their Colorado State University (CSU) team is calling for an Atlantic hurricane season with 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, 3 intense hurricanes, and an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) of 130. It’s more important now than ever to prepare for hurricane season to protect your family, properties, and self from disaster.

Being prepared for severe weather (e.g. hurricanes, tropical storms, and torrential downpours) can make a difference in how quickly you respond. Don’t wait until a hurricane is approaching before considering your family's preparedness. History teaches that a lack of awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a severe weather disaster.

1. DISASTER SUPPLY KIT

Develop a Disaster Supply Kit ‘Go Bag’, with essentials in case you are isolated for five to seven days (recommend two weeks) without power or must evacuate quickly. Your emergency supply kit that should be used for any emergency, regardless of the time of year.

The most important thing you can do as hurricane season approaches is to get yourself, your family and your home prepared. By starting early, you’ll avoid the rush at home supply stores, grocery stores and other venues typically crowded and often chaotic when hurricane watches and warnings are issued.

Keep the items you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to carry container. Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Prior to storm, fill your vehicle gas tank daily.

2. DEVELOP A FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN

Emergency planning for a family, especially if you have children, requires extra thought and preparation. You have to take into account additional factors that will help everyone effectively manage a stressful situation.

  • What if a child or other family is away when a disaster strikes? There are times when your family is separated. No one knows when an emergency situation may arise. You have to prepare for anything. A few easy steps can make all the difference. Be sure your children never leave home without emergency contact information. They also need to know whom to call first if you’re unavailable.
  • Hurricane hazards come in many forms: storm surge, high winds, tornadoes, and flooding. It is important to have a plan that includes all of these hazards. Look carefully at the safety actions associated with each type of hurricane hazard and prepare your family disaster plan accordingly.
  • Remember to include family pets in your family emergency planning.

3. DEVELOP A FAMILY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN

A Family Emergency Communications Plan can help reassure everyone’s safety and minimize the stress associated with emergencies.

  • All families should develop a Family Emergency Communication Plan to help everyone’s safety. In case family members are separated from one another during an emergency (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school, camp or at a friend’s house), your plan should also address a meeting or muster locations after the immediate crisis passes.
  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the Family Emergency Communications Plan contact person. During and immediately following a disaster occurs, it is often easier to access a long-distance telephone number than a local one. Also, calling outside a disaster area is usually easier than calling into the same area.
  • Make sure everyone knows the name, address and telephone number of the Family Emergency Communications Plan contact person.
  • Designate two meeting areas for family members – one within your community (your primary location), and one outside of your community (your alternate location). Sometimes an emergency could impact your neighborhood or small section of the community, so a second location outside of your community would be more accessible to all family members.

4. STAY INFORMED

Educate yourself and family about emergency plans for your community, place of business, your child’s school and camp.

  • Know the potential risks associated with your community and neighborhood. What are they susceptible to in a hurricane, such as storm surge, flooding, and etc.?
  • Carefully monitor the media and follow instructions from Public Safety officials as the hurricane approaches.

5. PREPARE YOUR HOME

  • Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall. Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs before hurricane season to keep you and your property safe
  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts. Clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
  • Reduce property damage by retrofitting your home to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including garage doors.
  • Purchase a portable generator or install a generator in case of power outage. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protect from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
  • Consider building a FEMA safe room (http://www.fema.gov/saferooms) or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high-winds and in locations above flooding levels.

6. AS THE STORM APPROACHES

What to do when a hurricane is 36 hours from arriving

  • Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. During disasters, texting is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.
  • Review your evacuation plan with your family. You might need to leave quickly so plan ahead.
  • Keep your car in good working condition with the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes for each family member...

What to do when a hurricane is 18-36 hours from arriving

  • Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.
  • Cover all of your home’s windows - permanent storm shutters offer the best protection or you can board up windows with ⅝” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

What to do when a hurricane is 6-18 hours from arriving

  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Charge your cell phone and other mobile devices.

What to when hurricane is 6 hours from arriving

  • If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.
  • Close storm shutters and stay away from windows.
  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.
  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES