Saturday, October 27, 2012

Last Minute Hurricane Safety Tips


The hurricane season expands from June 1 to November 30; however the peak months for hurricanes are August and September.  A hurricane watch means that a hurricane is possible within 36 hours.  A hurricane warning means that a hurricane is expected within 24 hours or less. 

Hurricanes are tropical storms that consist of water and warm air from the tropics.  As the warm air increases, it cools, and the moisture condenses to clouds and rain drops.  When a hurricane reaches land it loses the warm air moisture which feeds the storm. Hurricanes weaken rapidly over land due to the quick loss of water.

As this cycle continues, more warm moist air is drawn into the developing storm and more heat is transferred from the surface of the ocean to the atmosphere. This ongoing heat exchange forms a wind pattern that spirals around the eye.

Converging winds near the surface of the water collide, pushing more water vapor up which increases the circulation of warm air, and accelerates the speed of the wind. Simultaneously, strong winds blowing steadily at higher altitudes pull the rising warm air away from the storm’s center and send the warm air swirling into the hurricane’s cyclone.

As high-pressure air is pulled into the low-pressure center of the storm, the speed of the wind continues to increase.  The storm can expand to a tropical storm or hurricane.  Hurricanes have wind speeds greater than 74 – 95 mph while tropical storms have wind speeds from 39 – 73 mph.

Hurricane intensity is based upon the highest sustained wind speed the hurricane is producing. Hurricanes are rated from Category 1 – Category 5 based on the amount of damage each category may produce.  Category 1 may result in fallen tree branches, blowing debris, damage to mobile homes and power outages vs. a Category 2 which may result in fallen tree branches, damage to mobile homes, fallen trees, power outages and wind speed 96 – 110 mph. Check you electric company’s website for frequent updates.  Here are 29 tips to help you survive a hurricane.

  1. If your car is parked under or near a tree move it.
  2. Move all trash cans, furniture and anything that can fly away to a closed area such as your garage or basement. You can also tie down furniture to something sturdy such as a deck. If you are not sure if something will fly away bring it inside.
  3. Keep flashlights, batteries, candles, lanterns and portable devices nearby so if the power goes out they will be easily accessible.
  4. Use candles and lanterns with caution; don’t fall asleep with them on.  Keep papers, bags, clothing and anything flammable out of reach.
  5. Use generators with caution. Visit your electricity company’s website to get safety tips on how to use your generator.
  6. Limit your use of the refrigerator if your power goes out.  Food can stay cold for up to 4 hours.
  7. If you don’t have bottled water, boil tap water or use your faucet filter and store in large containers in your refrigerator.
  8. If you have electric heat gather blankets to make them easily accessible if your power goes out.
  9. Don’t suddenly become an adventurer and decide to take pictures or follow the storm to fulfill a midlife crisis, to get on television or get your picture taken for your 30 seconds of fame.  Stay indoors and remain safe.
  10. Ensure all doors and windows are securely locked.
  11. Seal up any leaks or drafts in windows or doors.
  12. Check sump pumps, gutters and drains to make sure they are clear of debris.
  13. Check sump pumps and your basement every few hours to ensure water hasn’t backed up in your home.
  14. Immediately report power outages and any down power lines.
  15. Keep emergency service numbers easily accessible.
  16. Plug computers, printers, and large appliances into surge protectors.
  17. Ensure cordless phone batteries are fully charged.
  18. Ensure you cell phones are fully charged at all times.  Send text messages instead of talking on your cell phone during the storm to save your battery power.
  19. Unplug all electronic devices if your power goes out to prevent an overload on circuits.
  20. If you keep your pets outside bring them inside for safety.
  21. Gather mops, towels and buckets so they will be easily accessible if your home starts to flood to help you remove some of the water until you are able to get a plumber to solve the problem.
  22. If were not able to buy ice or dry ice use your ice maker or ice trays to make ice which you can use to keep food cold if the power goes out.
  23. If you have a cooler make it easily accessible so if you power goes out you can fill it with ice to keep food cold.
  24. Listen to weather conditions updates on your local news or radio shows.
  25.  When power is restored turn on appliances and electric devices one at a time.
  26. Identify a list of temporary shelters that are in your neighborhood in the event you need to use them.
  27. Evacuate immediately if you are told to do so.
  28. Confirm if it safe to drink tap water.
  29. Don’t move or touch down wires or trees.  This is especially important if any of your property is damaged.  If weather conditions are safe take pictures and provide to your insurance company.

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