HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS AND SURVIVAL

WHEN YOUR AREA RECEIVES A HURRICANE WARNING

  • Stay tuned to the weather service or storm warnings for advice; keep alert.
  • Keep calm until the emergency has ended.
  • Plan your time before the storm arrives and avoid the last-minute hurry which might leave you unprepared or isolated.
  • If you have a boat, moor it securely before the storm arrives, or evacuate it to a designated safe area. Upon mooring your boat, leave it, and don't return once the wind and waves are up.
  • Board up windows of your house, apartment or business or protect them with storm shutters or tape. Danger to small windows is mainly from wind-driven debris. Wind pressure may break larger windows.
  • To prevent outdoor objects from getting blown away, secure them. Garbage cans, garden tools, toys, signs, patio furniture, and a number of other harmless items become missiles under the force of the hurricanes winds. Anchor them or store them inside before the storm strikes.
  • Purchase enough drinking water before hurricane season starts. Have enough stored in your house, car and at work.
  • Keep your car fueled. Service stations may be inoperable for several days after the storm strikes, due to flooding or interrupted electrical power.

DURING THE HURRICANE

  • If you are driving and have no warning, drive perpendicular to its path and try to outrun it.
  • Leave low-lying areas that may be flooded by high tides, storm surges or storm waves.
  • If you are unable to leave the area, move to a designated shelter and stay there until the storm is over. If you must stay at home, move to the basement.  Avoid mobile homes. If you are in a tall building, move to the center or interior halls.
  • Remain indoors during the hurricane. Travel is extremely dangerous when winds and tides are whipping through your area.
  • Monitor the storm's position though weather reports and advisories.
  • Beware of the eye of the hurricane. If the calm storm center passes directly overhead, there will be a lull in the wind lasting from a few minutes to a half an hour or more. Stay in a safe place unless emergency repairs are necessary. But remember, at the other side of the eye, the winds rise very rapidly to hurricane force, and come from the opposite direction.

WHEN THE HURRICANE HAS PASSED

  • Avoid loose or dangling power lines; immediately report them to the Power Company, Police or Fire Department. Reporting potential hazards will get the utilities turned off as quickly as possible, preventing further hazard and injury.
  • Seek necessary medical care at Red Cross disaster stations or hospitals.
  • Stay out of disaster areas. Unless you are qualified to help, your presence might hamper first aid and rescue work.
  • Drive carefully along debris-filled streets.
  • You should report broken sewer or water mains to the water department.
  • If evacuated, return home when local officials tell you it is safe. Local officials on the scene are your best source of information on accessible areas and passable roads.
  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding after the hurricane or tropical storm has weakened. Hurricanes may stall or change direction when they make landfall, or they may bring a lot of rain upriver, causing additional flood hazards for hours or days after the storm.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Continue to follow all flood safety messages. Floodwaters may last for days following a hurricane. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. If you are driving on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, and if you can safely get out of the car, do so immediately and climb to higher ground. Never try to walk, swim or drive through such swift water. The causes of most flood fatalities are by people attempting to drive through water or people playing in high water. If it is moving swiftly, even water six inches deep can sweep you off your feet, and two feet can carry away most automobiles.
  • If you come upon a barricade, follow detour signs or turn around and go another way. To protect people from unsafe roads, local officials put up barricades. Driving around them can be a serious risk.
  • Help injured or trapped persons. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
  • Help anyone who may require special assistance - infants, elderly people and people with disabilities. Elderly people and people with disabilities may require additional assistance.
  • Check electrical equipment for dampness (it must be dry) before being returning it to service. Call an electrician for advice before using electrical equipment, which may have received water damage.
  • Stay out of the building if water remains around the building. Floodwaters often undermine foundations, causing buildings to sink, floors to crack or walls to collapse.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings, Hurricane-driven floodwaters may have damaged buildings where you least expect it. Carefully watch every step you take.
  • Wear sturdy shoes. Cut feet are the most common injury following a disaster.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings. Battery-powered lighting is the safest and easiest, preventing fire hazard for the user, occupants and building.
  • Examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing.
  • Inspect foundations for cracks or other damage. Cracks and damage to a foundation can render a building uninhabitable.
  • Look for fire hazards. There may be broken or leaking gas lines, flooded electrical circuits, or submerged furnaces or electrical appliances. Flammable or explosive materials may come from upstream. Fire is the most frequent hazard following floods.
  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell fumes or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas with an On Duty Gas & Water Shut Off Tool at the outside main valve. Call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, a professional must turn it back on.
  • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell burning insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
  • Check for sewage and water line damage. If you suspect damage to sewage lines, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If there are damage to water pipes, contact the water company, and avoid using water from the tap.
  • Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into buildings with the floodwaters. Use a stick to poke through debris. Floodwaters flush many animals and snakes out of their homes.
  • Watch for loose plaster, drywall and ceilings that could fall.
  • Take pictures of the damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance claims.
  • Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If power was lost, some foods may be spoiled.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated. Hurricane-driven floodwaters may have contaminated public water supplies or wells. Local officials should advise you on the safety of the drinking water.
  • You should pump out flooded basements gradually (about one-third of the water per day) to avoid structural damage. If you pump the water out completely in a short period, pressure from water on the outside could cause basement walls to collapse.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls. Telephone lines are frequently overwhelmed in disaster situations. They need to be clear for emergency calls to get through.

GET PREPARED TO SURVIVE!