Natural disasters can come with or without warning. Hurricanes can luckily be forecasted with accuracy, and people often have multiple days to prepare for a storm. Hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30. With hurricane season now in full swing, it is always good to be prepared.
This reminder comes at an important landmark, with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just passing. Hurricane Katrina was arguably the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, killing more than 2,000 people and causing an estimated $150 billion of damage in Louisiana and Mississippi.
In the event of a hurricane, your home is subject to catastrophic damage. The actions a homeowner takes before a storm can greatly reduce the chance for destruction. One of the best things a homeowner can do is to act as if a storm is coming now, as opposed to waiting. Batteries and a generator are always good to have on hand. Many times before a severe weather event, people are forced to wait in huge lines to get supplies, and stores sometimes run out of products. Having these materials on hand now will save the homeowner stress and headache down the road.
Another essential in preparing your home for a hurricane is outdoor maintenance. According to Dr. Virginia White, an administrator of outreach programs with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, keeping your home in good condition helps reduce the risk of damage from a severe weather event.
“Always check trees and shrubs that are near the house,” White said. “If the trees are dead, diseased or have dead limbs that may fall on the house, consider removing them.” With severe weather events such as hurricanes or tornadoes, trees can become dangerous debris, launching through the air at deadly speeds. Ensuring that the trees around your home are healthy and secure could prevent this in the event of a storm.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has a new iBook to help families, businesses and communities prepare for storms and clean up after they pass. The Emergency Handbook is a comprehensive resource for emergency planning, preparation and storm recovery. It is available as a free download from iBooks.
According to The National Hurricane Center, this year is likely to be a below-normal hurricane season. Although this is seemingly good news, that doesn’t mean to let your guard down. “Scientists base these updates on what they observe, including the strengthening of El Niño, atmospheric conditions and cooler sea-surface temperatures,” White said. “Even in a below-normal season, there is a chance that a tropical storm or a hurricane can make landfall and cause damage to people and homes.”
In the event of a hurricane or tropical storm, the best way to stay safe is to follow the advice of local authorities. “Make sure your vehicle is fueled and that you know the hurricane evacuation route,” White said. “Have cash on hand because if the power is out, ATM machines won’t work. Always know where you will go if you need to evacuate.” Taking these steps now can greatly help a homeowner prepare for a natural disaster.
For more information on how to best plan, check your emergency kit checklist.