Living as I do in New Jersey, I rarely have found myself in the direct path of a hurricane. But in 2011 and 2012, New Jersey was hit in back-to-back years by landfalling hurricanes. Irene in 2011 was not nearly as disastrous as Sandy was in 2012. And, of course, Sandy was not technically a hurricane when it made landfall, according to the National Weather Service. Thankfully, in both cases, we had enough time to prepare for the storm ahead of time, in order to keep safe. Hurricane prediction has progressed to the point where most areas usually have a few days of preparation time. So, how do you prepare for a hurricane that is on its way in order to keep you and your loved ones safe?
First, be aware. What is the expected track of the storm? What effects are likely for your area, and when are those expected to arrive? There are a number of places to go for this information, and I detailed three sites in my last post for you to visit.
Second, gather needed supplies. Fill your car’s gas tank. If you will be sheltering in your home throughout the storm, be sure to have supplies for at least three days, if not as much as a week. You may be without power or water for a few days, and you will need food, water, medicine and other supplies. A good rule of thumb for water is one gallon per person per day. You may be able to get by with a little less, but not much less, and you will want to be sure it is safe water, preferably bottled. You may want to fill a bathtub with water just in case. You want to have dry foods you can eat without cooking, including some fresh fruit if possible. Have enough medicine for at least a week. You also should have a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, a flashlight, and a basic first aid kit. If you plan to evacuate, be sure to gather your supplies in a safe durable bag.
Third, comply with any evacuation orders if they are given. Once the storm hits, and especially when the effects of the storm are at their most severe, you may not be able to call for and receive help if you need it. And if you do need help, you will put emergency responders in harm’s way coming to help you. Although you may have lived through previous hurricanes, if you are told to leave, leave. And unless you are strictly forbidden from doing so by where you are going, be sure to bring your pets, and food for them.
Fourth, prepare your home. If you have the time to do so before the storm or any evacuation, be sure to remove any loose objects from around your home that could become projectiles during the storm. Lawn furniture, potted plants, garbage cans, and other loose items should be brought into the home. You should probably make an effort to remove any loose or unsafe tree branches that could break or fly during the storm as well. If hurricane force winds are expected in your area, you might want to board up your windows with plywood, and, if you have a generator, be sure you have fuel for it and that it is in proper working order.
While the storm is underway, stay indoors and away from windows. There may be periods where the storms severe rain and wind bands ebb for a while, but it is probably not safe to travel during these times, as they could change quickly. You could also find yourself trapped by downed trees and power lines if you do venture out. Of course if you find yourself in a flooded area, try to get to higher ground as soon as possible.
This is just a partial list of things to do, and there are many places to go online for more information: