AUBURN, Alabama —The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season began June 1, and the peak period of the season is August through October. Now is the time to make sure you have completed your hurricane preparedness tasks.
A major hurricane is one that is Category 3 or stronger on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. It has sustained winds greater than 110 miles per hour and is classified at category 3 or above on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Just one storm can dramatically change your life.
People throughout the nation should keep alert to hurricane warnings because once they have come on land, they can cause severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, torrid rain and flooding of inland terrain. Damage in Alabama during hurricane Opal is a fine example. Mass flooding damage occurred in coastal areas of the state but damage from the storm’s high winds and torrid rain was heavy throughout the state.
“Get ready now with these easy, low-cost steps that will leave you better prepared and will make all the difference: have a family discussion about what you will do, where you will go and how you will communicate with each other when a storm threatens; know your evacuation route; tune into your local news or download the Federal Emergency Management Agency app to get alerts; and finally, listen to local authorities as a storm approaches,” said Acting FEMA Administrator Robert J. Fenton, Jr.
So what can you do to prepare for a hurricane? First, listen to weather reports and heed advice given by weather experts if a storm is in your area.
Hurricane Watch and Warning
A hurricane watch means that a hurricane may occur within 24 to 36 hours. A warning means a hurricane will probably hit your area within 24 hours. However, if you are smart, you will not wait until a hurricane watch is issued to take precautions.
Plan and map an escape route now and keep it in a safe place. Stock up on drinking water, nonperishable foods, canned goods, dog or cat food, medicine and first aid supplies, batteries (all sizes, especially those that fit portable radios, flashlights and cell phones), candles and kerosene lamps and fuel, and store a good supply of matches in a waterproof container.
Inventory your possessions inside and outside of your home. One smart way to do this is by videotape recording or picture taking with digital cameras. Homeowners may even want to videotape equipment or things in garage or storage houses on their property. Store the information in water and fireproof containers off the premises when possible. This type of inventory will be helpful to you and your insurance company in case of other disasters, such as fire or flood, or even a theft. Make a list of serial or model numbers on appliances, electronics and furniture and special costly items, such as silver candelabras or antique jewelry and place it in with video of items.
Review Home Insurance Policies
Another important step is to review your home insurance policies and make sure your coverage is sufficient. Your home and belongings should be covered to their full replacement cost. While hurricane damage is covered under most standard homeowner’s policies, flooding is NOT covered. Ask your insurance agent about flood coverage. Renters should purchase renter’s insurance. It is not expensive and protects your belongings from other dangers as well.
Other things to check or store several days before an expected storm include filling the fuel tank in your automobile, placing extra bags of ice in freezer, making sure you have plenty of dry wood for fireplace, charcoal or full gas container for barbeque grill, blankets, towels and pillows for storm cellar or basement.
For more information on preparing for storms or storm recovery, download Alabama Extension’s free iBook at https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/emergency-handbook/id1022730765?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4. The Emergency Handbook brings together recommendations from national emergency response agencies and major universities into one easy-to-understand, interactive reference. It addresses nearly 50 disaster preparation and recovery topics in four broad categories, including: People and Pets, Home and Business, Landscape and Garden, and Farms and Livestock. You can also find it online at http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ACES-2168/