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Hurricane seasons run in cycles, with decades of active hurricanes followed by periods with less frequent and/or less powerful storms. Meteorologists note that each phase typically lasts between 25 and 40 years. Weather experts predict a tumultuous decade with the possibility of increasingly severe hurricanes, especially in the Northeast United States.
Current Hurricane Cycle Wreaking Havoc, Causing Disaster and Emergency Situations
Some scientists are calling for a thorough reevaluation of preparedness and mitigation strategies. In The Recent Increase in Atlantic Hurricane Activity: Causes and Implications (Science: Vol. 293. no. 5529, pp. 474 – 479), the simultaneous increase in the North Atlantic sea surface temperature and decrease in vertical wind shear seems the likely culprit in a five-fold increase in hurricanes affecting the Caribbean, with a two-and-a-half fold increase in major hurricanes. These higher powered, more frequent hurricanes are expected to continue for 10 to 40 years.
Hurricane preparedness requires that citizens know how to secure their homes, which supplies to have on hand, and how to evacuate safely, when necessary.
Hurricane Safety- Protect the Home from Hurricane Damage
Before hurricane season, contact an engineer or licensed contractor for an inspection of the home’s structural integrity. Make any necessary repairs or improvements in advance.
Imagine storm-proofing the home and make a list of necessary materials such as plywood, nails, plastic sheets or tarps, etc. Purchase these supplies in advance and store until needed.
As a hurricane develops over the ocean, prepare the property for the storm:
- Trim dead branches from trees
- Fasten down loose siding or roofing
- Remove loose objects from the yard (bikes, toys, gardening tools)
- Secure doors and windows, covering glass to prevent injury if shattered
- Brace doors at the top and bottom
It may not be possible to limit the hurricane damage in a severe storm; however, precautionary steps can help protect the home in lower-category hurricanes.
What To Do in Case of Emergency Evacuation
An emergency evacuation plan should include the method of travel, a safe destination, and alternate travel routes in case of road closures. Learn the locations of several emergency shelters in the event that roads are impassable and evacuation is not an option.
Special needs travelers and those unable to evacuate on their own should connect with the local State Office or Agency of Emergency Management before an evacuation is ordered, to make plans and avoid being left behind.
When immediate evacuation is ordered, gather the family, essential belongings, and a travel-size hurricane survival kit. Staying in an evacuated neighborhood is dangerous; emergency services may not be available. Ensure the safety of immediate neighbors, turn off the electricity at the main breaker, and leave. Even in heavy traffic, remain calm and follow the evacuation route.
Hurricane Preparedness Important During Emergency Evacuation or Riding Out the Storm
Whether staying home or evacuating, ensure personal safety for all family members with proper preparation. Survival supplies are an absolute must during hurricane season; read the article Hurricane Survival Kit for a complete list. It is a good idea to prepare a full kit for the home when weathering the storm, and a second, smaller version for the vehicle in the case of planned or emergency evacuation.
Avoid Disaster or Emergency
Residents who choose to stay should seek shelter in an interior room, with no windows or skylights. Turn off the electricity at the main breaker to prevent electrical shock or damage in a flood. Stow away irreplaceable items in the empty dishwasher or dryer. Make sure all electrical appliances are up off the floor in case of flooding.
Hurricanes are largely unpredictable and potentially deadly storms. Keep emergency supplies on hand, know the escape route, and evacuate when ordered to ensure the safety of all family members.