Hurricane hazards and safety actions

STORM SURGE

According to the National Hurricane Center, the greatest potential for loss of life during a hurricane is from a storm surge. A storm surge consists of water pushed towards a shoreline by the force of winds circulating around the storm.

  • Minimize the distance you have to travel in order to reach a safe evacuation destination. The further you travel, the greater the chances are of running into traffic congestion and roadway problems.
  • Do not begin an evacuation without a planned driving route.
  • Use the evacuation routes designated by authorities. Get familiar with your evacuation route by driving it before hurricane season begins.
  • If you live in an evacuation zone and are ordered to evacuate by state or local officials, do so as quickly as possible.
  • Do not delay evacuation departures and expect traffic congestion.

TORNADOES

Hurricanes and tropical storms have the potential of producing tornadoes, which only add to the destruction left behind from a storm. The National Hurricane Center says tornadoes are most likely to occur in the right-front quadrant of a hurricane. Tornadoes can also be found in outside rain bands and away from the eye of the hurricane.

  • When a tornado watch is issued, be prepared to take action.
  • When a tornado warning is issued or one is imminent, move to a small interior room away from windows.
  • As a last resort, get under heavy furniture and away from windows.
  • Consider constructing a tornado-safe room inside of your house.
  • If you live in a mobile home park, get together with other residents and the park owner/manager to designate safe shelter areas in the community.

INLAND FLOODING

Despite storm surges posing a direct threat on coastal communities, the National Hurricane Center reports more people have died from inland flooding from 1970-2000. While some may think the greatest rainfall dangers come with more powerful storms, some of the greatest rainfall amounts can occur from weaker storms that drift or stall in a certain area.

  • When you hear "hurricane," think inland flooding.
  • Learn your vulnerability to flooding by determining the elevation of your property.
  • In highly flood-prone areas, keep important materials on hand like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, plastic garbage bags, shoves, work boots and gloves.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood when planning your evacuation route.
  • Avoid driving into water of unknown depth.
  • Test drinking water for potability.
  • Do not use fresh food that has come in direct contact with flood waters.

HIGH WINDS

Hurricane-force winds have the potential to easily destroy poorly constructed buildings and mobile homes. Debris such as signs, roofing material and small items left outside of buildings can be not only dangerous, but deadly as well.

  • Find out if your home meets current building code requirements for high-winds.
  • Protect all windows by installing commercial shutters or preparing 5/8 inch plywood panels.
  • Garage doors are frequently the first area of a home to fail against high winds.
  • Before hurricane season, address any shrubbery or trees outside of your home or business. Trim dead wood and weak branches from all trees to avoid additional debris.

Information source: NOAA

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