Hurricane preparedness is a must for people and businesses located in coastal areas.
Hurricane preparedness plans do not depend on what type of hurricane is coming, but it is important to be prepared.
What is a hurricane?
A hurricane is defined as a large low pressure storm, with an organized eye, accompanied by heavy rain and strong sustained winds. Most hurricane damage is from the winds and storm surges that occur in coastal regions. Inland areas can also be affected by extensive flooding from heavy rain.
When is hurricane season?
Hurricane season is between June 1st and November 30th. The most likely strikes on the eastern U.S. coast are mid-August and late October.
What is the difference between a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning?
A possible hurricane strike is watch. Directly in the strike path of a hurricane is a warning.
How are hurricanes rated and what do the ratings mean?
Hurricanes are rated by the ability to cause damage and are classified in 5 categories.
- A Category 1 hurricane has 74-95 miles per hour (mph) sustained winds and 4-5 foot storm surges. This category causes “minimal” damage.
- Category 2 hurricanes have 96-110 mph sustained winds with a 6-8 foot storm surge and moderate flooding and property damage.
- Categories 3, 4 and 5 are considered major hurricanes and leave more destruction in their paths
- A Category 3 hurricane has winds of 111-130 mph and a 9-12 foot storm surge; causing extensive damage to some buildings with low-lying roads cut off due to flooding.
- Category 4 hurricanes have sustained winds of 131-155 mph and storm surges of 13-18 feet. Expect extreme damage to all buildings in the area, including destroyed roofs, flooding and fallen debris. Beachfront homes will be flooded.
- The last category is Category 5. This type of hurricane has sustained winds greater than 156 mph and storm surges of greater than 18 feet. This is considered a catastrophic storm and will cause catastrophic damage on contact.
What can I do to prepare for a hurricane?
Being prepared is a must in a hurricane.
- You need an emergency kit with the recommended supplies based on your family size and if you need to evacuate. Click here to see the Red Cross’s recommendations for an emergency survival kit.
- Use a backpack for emergency supplies in case of evacuation. It is easier in a grab-and-go situation.
- Make an emergency plan and practice it with your family
- Be informed. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) In Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness is a good source for this type of information. This 200 page book includes how to prepare for hurricanes and most other weather and nature related disasters.
- Cover windows and other glass surfaces with plywood or hurricane shutters because wind will break the glass; causing injuries from the glass or items that became projectiles.
- Make sure all outdoor items that are not tied down are pulled back inside your home. This includes furniture, toolboxes etc. Secure all small outbuildings and sheds to the ground. They could become huge projectiles if the wind picks them up.
How can a business prepare for a hurricane?
Other than the obvious issues that are common to households also (like watching the forecast, filling vehicle and generator tanks with fuel, boarding windows and sandbagging doors and securing all sheds and outbuildings), businesses also need to take precautions and make business survival plans well ahead of a hurricane.
The key is to have a working Emergency Plan in place ahead of time.
Designate a team leader to facilitate a smooth progression of the Emergency Plan. Make sure he or she has all of the equipment necessary to fulfill their responsibilities.
Employees are one of a business’s major assets.
They can be invaluable in keeping the business running. Since employees are part of the day-to- day operations of your business they can be part of the preparedness team. When you know a hurricane is coming, know where your employees are in real-time. Is she working from home today or is he away on business or vacation? Make sure the employee contact list is current before the hurricane strikes. Give your key people the list.
Data is another integral part of your business.
Businesses need to make sure that all their data is backed up and stored off-site in a safe space. Cloud service backup is a good way to have your important data off site but cloud services are only work as long as you can get to them via internet. Sometime when cell towers and internet service providers sustain damage, the internet will not be available for use and neither would your data.
Make checklists with the necessary actions required when an item happens.
Know where the business insurance policy is and who to contact should you need them. Have reliable vendors on standby and include how to contact them. Create a contact list for all vendors and insurance brokers. Don’t forget the policy number on the insurance info. Give copies of this list to every key person.
If it can’t be moved to another safe location, secure and cover all equipment such as computers, copiers and even furniture.
Post emergency evacuation routes
Post routes out of and around your building. When an emergency strikes, people can panic and get confused or disoriented. Having a printed list to refer to can help everyone stay calm.
Take pictures documenting the damage
Pictures are a must before anyone cleans up after the storm
Whether you are a business or an individual being prepared for a hurricane is the best way to survive!
This 2 page reference document from FEMA will help you be prepared in case of a hurricane.