In case you haven’t heard, June 01st is the official start of hurricane season, and it doesn’t come to an end until December 01st. A lot can happen in six months and sometimes does, but if you’re prepared, you’ll be in better condition to cope than if you allow yourself to remain clueless.
Hurricanes don’t always know they’re supposed to hit between June and November 30th, so don’t be surprised if an occasional tropical storm becomes obstinate and sets her own pattern. Tropical storm Ana formed over Easter weekend in 2003 though she didn’t amount to much.
Hurricane season doesn’t really ramp up until mid August then it can be a roller coaster ride through October. That’s not to say that killer storms won’t hit before that or even in November because they have, it’s just that the season
Intensifies as it grows later till finally it dies down.
Most people think the real damage from hurricanes is caused by wind. The truth is winds can be extremely deadly, but the tidal surge accounts for a vast majority of deaths. Audrey hit east Texas in 1957, pushing a massive tidal surge forward while unsuspecting residents slept in their beds. Over five hundred people perished. The storm surge of Camile on August 18, 1969 left over two hundred and fifty dead from Louisiana to Virginia.
So what should you do to prevent you or your family from becoming a statistic? Three things: One, listen to officials and follow their directives. When they tell you to prepare to evacuate, be ready to go. Two, Be prepared. This means getting your property storm ready and your family ready to move if necessary. Three, have a plan. Know what you need to do, what you need to bring with you, and who you will need to contact.
Several things are important if you want to minimize damage to your property or danger to yourself. Cut down dead trees and branches near your home now. They’ll look pretty darn ugly sticking through your roof when you could have done something about it earlier.
Have supplies on hand in case you are allowed to ride the storm out at home. These include: Batteries, flashlights, a battery-powered radio, a first aid kit, canned food, a manual can opener, water (at least a gallon per day per person), prescription drugs, and phone numbers of relatives.
Have a plan for evacuation. If you can leave earlier, do it. If you wait till the last minute, know before hand where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. That plan should include having a full tank of gas way ahead of time.
Take inventory of everything in your home. You can document this for your insurance company by taking pictures. Be sure to open the drawers in the bedroom and kitchen as well as the bathroom.
Have a hurricane bag ready to snatch and run 365 days of the year because you never know when an emergency will strike. It should include: birth and wedding certificates, financial papers, wills, insurance policies which cover life, health, home, auto, and boat. It won’t hurt to bring income tax filings for the last year or two.
If you have a landline, keep a phone on hand that you can plug directly into the wall. If you lose cell phone service and electricity goes out, you’ll have contact with the outside world.
Have a point of contact outside the hurricane area. If family or friends get separated during an evacuation, the person outside your area can relay vital information.
If you have pets, make provisions for them long before the storm appears on the weather channel’s maps. Bringing them to a shelter is not an option so plan ahead.
If you are able to seek refuge in a shelter, know where it is ahead of time. Don’t guess. Searching for a shelter you’ve never been to while a hurricane is bearing down on you is not the brightest thing you could do.
Remember no drugs, alcohol, or guns in a shelter. Do bring a few essentials like canned food, water, a blanket, reading materials, board games, cards, and a sense of humor. You may be anxious under the circumstances, but so is everyone else so be polite and courteous.
Forget the hurricane parties. For many people, attending one was the last thing they did. Even if you survive, the devastation a storm leaves behind can make your days miserable. After a bad storm you’re likely to have no water, electricity or toilet facilities for days. How much fun is that?
Hopefully, this year no major hurricanes will make landfall. Just don’t bet on it. Two to three major hurricanes a season is average with five or six named ones.
Stay safe out there no matter what the weather and enjoy the beautiful summer months ahead. Smooth sailing out there on the high seas of life.
The Uncommon Mariner