AUBURN, Ala. – Hurricane Irma is now a Category 5 hurricane. Irma is expected to reach the northeastern Caribbean islands and Puerto Rico by Wednesday before possibly taking aim at the United States. A Category 5 hurricane can reach wind speeds over 157 mph. Now is the time to make sure you have completed your hurricane preparedness tasks.
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 torrential rain was heavy throughout the state.
Get ready now with these easy, low-cost steps that will leave you better prepared.
- 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
- Finally, listen to local authorities as a storm approaches
Understanding Hurricane Watch and Warning Meanings
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.
Fill your vehicles fuel tanks. Place extra bags of ice in freezer. Make sure you have plenty of charcoal or full gas container for barbeque grill so you can cook if the power goes out. Place blankets, towels and pillows in your shelter area.
Alabama Extension’s Emergency Handbook
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/