Expect a Busy Hurricane Season, Forecasters Say

By Randal Hill

This year’s hurricane season has the potential to become the most active season since 2010. Numerous early season storms and warmer Atlantic waters have caused forecasters to predict a 60 percent chance of an above-normal season (compared to the May prediction of a 45 percent chance). But, rather than panic, let’s see what we mere mortals can and should do in the face of a potentially volatile Mother Nature. Remember, hurricane season lasts until Nov. 30 and we are entering the peak of the season.

We hear numerous storm terms on the radio and TV this time of year, but
we may not fully understand their characteristics. A tropical depression is a
circular rotating storm system with winds up to 38 miles an hour. A tropical
storm involves wind speeds from 39 to 73 miles an hour. A hurricane has winds
of 74 or more miles an hour. Hurricanes are categorized according to strength. In a Category 5 hurricane, winds can be greater than 155 miles per hour and the storm surge can be higher than 18 feet above normal. It’s important to listen to weather advisories and follow directions closely. You also need to know if you live in a flood zone where evacuation may be necessary.

Taking Precautions at Home

Protect your residence by covering all windows with hurricane shutters or
wood if possible. All outdoor items not tied down should be brought inside. In
the event of severe winds, avoid doors and windows and close and secure all
inside doors.

Dealing with Power Outages

Life can be tough when the electricity is off for a while, so be prepared for this possibility. Retrieve your cooler and store refrigerated items and ice
packs into it when the power fails. Limit cell phone use to avoid running down the batteries. With no air conditioning, cover
windows from the inside, and curtail the use of battery powered fans. (Supposedly running this kind of fan motor adds heat to a room.) Fill a bathtub with water for washing and flushing only.

Create a disaster kit

Should you have to shelter in place, have this kit readily available and
restock with fresh batteries and food as needed. Your checklist should include:


a three days’ supply of easily
prepared, non-perishable food
• manual can opener
• water for three days—one gallon per person per day
• a well-stocked first-aid kit
• contact information, important
documents and extra cash, all stored
in a portable, waterproof container
• extra clothing, sturdy shoes and
a blanket
• flashlights, a cell phone and charger, and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries
• special needs items, such as
prescription medications, eye
glasses, contact lens solutions, and
hearing aid batteries
• sanitation and hygiene items (moist
towelettes, toilet paper, hand
sanitizer and bleach)

Moving to Safety

If you’re a senior, you may need more time to evacuate. Determine the
best escape route beforehand, and leave as soon as possible when ordered. If
you no longer drive, plan ahead to have a family member or other trusted individual transport you to safety. It is best to only go as far as to where services
are still operating normally. If a quick evacuation isn’t possible, identify
safe rooms and areas in your home. Secure bookcases, cabinets, mirrors and
artwork that could fall and cause injury. Create a support network of at least
three people who can check in and offer you assistance if needed.

Fido and Fluffy Need Preparation Too

Pets’ needs must be anticipated, of
course. Microchipping them and providing ID tags ahead of time is always a good idea. Have crates for transportation handy and ready. Include a favorite toy and a bed or blanket in an adequately sized carrier. Cats will need a portable litter box. Contact nearby hotels and
motels to check on pet policies and restrictions
if friends or relatives cannot
shelter your animals. If necessary, make
arrangements with neighbors to help
evacuate pets.

Pets’ Survival Kits

A basic kit should include:

• A good supply of food, stored in
sealable bags
• prescription medications in the
original containers
• bottled water and a bowl
• a leash, collar or harness
• paper towels, plastic bags, cleansers
and disinfectant
• vital documents, including the
veterinarian’s phone number

By taking the proper steps now, we can take comfort in the fact that we have
done everything humanly possible to prepare for forthcoming weather situations
that we have no control over.

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