By Stephanie Heckman, Red Cross Public Relations Intern
During National Hurricane Preparedness Week from May 26 to June 1, the Red Cross encourages families to prepare for the possibility of hurricanes and dangerous storms. Hurricane Season – the months in which hurricanes are most likely to strike – will begin the first day of June.
As communities in Louisiana, New York and New Jersey are still recovering from Hurricane Isaac and SuperStorm Sandy, we need to recognize that hurricanes and storms pose a threat to the entire East Coast. Although communities on the coast are most often affected, inland communities can also be impacted by powerful winds, heavy rainfall, flooding and tornadoes.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hurricane outlook warns that we may experience a higher-than-normal Atlantic hurricane season this summer. The organization predicts 13 to 20 named storms, of which up to six may become major hurricanes. According to NOAA, “named storms” have winds of higher than 39 miles per hour or while major hurricanes are category 3, 4 or 5 with winds higher than 111 mph.
A hurricane watch implies that hurricanes are a threat within 48 hours. This is the time to review plans, stay informed and be ready to act. In contrast, a hurricane warning means to expect hurricanes within 36 hours and be prepared to evacuate.
Here’s how to prepare for hurricanes and tropical storms:
- Download the Red Cross Hurricane App. The app contains a hurricane tracker, “I’m safe” button, monitoring of personalized weather alerts, flashlight, helpful tips and more.
- Download other Red Cross apps for tornadoes, earthquakes, first aid and shelter finding.
- Build an emergency kit: include several gallons of water, 2-week non-perishable food supply, can opener, flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, cell phone chargers, blankets, pet supplies, emergency contact information, maps, medications and important documents.
- Make a disaster preparedness plan to practice with all members of your household.
- Stay informed: follow local weather stations and learn your community’s disaster response plan. Make plans for your evacuation and where you will bring household pets.
- Make sure at least one family member is trained in CPR and First Aid.
- Print emergency contact cards for each member of your household.
- If you live in an area prone to flooding, powerful storms or hurricanes, consider adding Flood Insurance, which is rarely included in homeowner’s insurance.
If you would like to help victims of hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and other disasters, now is the best time. Become a Red Cross volunteer today by searching for open position on our website. Once you have completed an application and attend a volunteer orientation, you will be given a free Red Cross course in CPR, First Aid and AED. Volunteers can be trained in disaster relief and after receiving local experience, can choose to be deployed in states that the most need help. Other ways to help victims of disasters include donating funds and donating blood.