Natural Disasters: Hurricanes

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which just recently hit the east coast of the United States, many residents found themselves unprepared and unaware of the magnitude of damage a hurricane can bring. As the famous saying goes, ‘Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.’ But how do you actually prepare for a hurricane? What precautions should you take when you know a hurricane is approaching? It is all a nerve-wracking and sometimes difficult process, so hopefully this article will settle your worries just a bit.

What Is a Hurricane?

Hurricanes are severe storms that form over the tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Eastern Pacific Ocean, and Gulf of Mexico. It first starts as a powerful storm system with low-pressure and tremendous thunderstorms. This is called a tropical cyclone. As the system goes over the water, it begins to build strength. This is when a tropical depression storm may build up all the way to a Category 5 hurricane. Once, and if, the hurricane has touched down on land, the magnitude of the storm begins to die down as it goes further inland.

Hurricanes are typically measured by the Safford-Simpson Hurricane Scale. This scale rates the storm system from a tropical depression to a Category 5 by measuring its wind speeds.

A hurricane can arguably be the most deadly natural disaster as they can bring masses of destruction and other natural disasters. When a hurricane approaches, the affects of it are felt not only along the shore line, but also a couple hundred miles inland. The weather system dumps heavy rain, causing land to be prone to flooding and also land/mud slides. The dangerous wind speeds that occur during a hurricane make debris all over the area fly around, making it very unsafe. Hurricanes can also produce multiple tornadoes to touch down on the ground. Tornadoes are nature's most wild and violent storms as they have the power to rip of roofs off houses, pick up cars off the road, damage roads and bridges, and so on.

Preparing for a Future Hurricane

Before a hurricane comes near your area, there are steps that are recommended you take to reduce the amount of damage to your home or business and to keep yourself safe as possible.

Think about where you live. Do you live in a flood prone area? How much rain can your property withstand before flooding? If you live in a flood prone area, you will more than likely need to evacuate and move to higher and safer ground.

Some of the other steps that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends are:

  • Making an emergency kit with essential items like food, water, battery-powered radios, first-aid kit, and flashlights
  • Knowing a safe evacuation plan to higher ground if an evacuation order is issued
  • Securing homes by boarding up windows with plywood or with permanent storm shutters
  • Clearing clogged rain gutters and storm drains
  • Installing a generator for emergencies

These are only some of the precautionary measures FEMA recommends you take. For the complete list of things you need to have, know, and do, click here.

During a Hurricane

During a hurricane, it is crucial to be in constant communication with the people you are with and to maintain knowledge of what is going on. recommends:

  • Listening to your battery-powered radio or television for important updates.
  • If local officials issue an evacuation notice, follow their orders.
  • Always stay indoors during a hurricane and stay away from windows and doors as they can easily break and put you in harm’s way.
  • Turn off utilities and propane tanks if ordered by local officials.

The most important thing to do during a hurricane is to listen to the officials and do what they tell you. Don’t think that you know better than them as you can easily underestimate the magnitude of the storm. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Cick here for a more detailed list made by FEMA of what procedures to take during a hurricane.

After a Hurricane

Just because the hurricane has passed your area does not mean you are out of the woods yet. Many power lines are damaged during a hurricane causing power to go out for a long period of time.

  • If you were evacuated, do not return home until officials have said it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid driving through water you cannot see the bottom of and if possible, avoid driving at all.
  • Wear layers to keep warm until power and heat come on.
  • Check your home for structural damage and don’t return home if the home poses a threat to you or your family.

For the complete list of recommended things you should and shouldn’t do after a hurricane click here.

As you have noticed, preparing for a hurricane and living through one is not an easy task. It is quite scary to begin with, and the aftermath and effects of the storm are more troublesome to deal with. If you live in an area that experienced or is prone to hurricanes, please stay safe and be prepared for the worst. Never underestimate the power of a hurricane as one can cause tremendous damage and even death.


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