Tips for the Upcoming Hurricane Season

The first instance you find out a storm is coming....

  1. Contact your local National Weather Service office and local government/emergency management office. Find out what type of emergencies could occur and how you should respond.

  2. Contacts

    Keep a list of contact information for reference.

    • Local Emergency Management Office
    • County Law Enforcement
    • County Public Safety Fire/Rescue
    • State, County and City/Town Government
    • Local Hospitals
    • Local Utilities
    • Local American Red Cross
    • Local TV Stations
    • Local Radio Stations
    • Your Property Insurance Agent
  3. Plan & Take Action

    Everyone needs to be prepared for the unexpected. Your friends and family may not be together when disaster strikes. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children or parents are safe? You may have to evacuate or be confined to your home. What will you do if water, gas, electricity or phone services are shut off?

    Basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

    • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

      Allow people to drink according to their needs.

      Many people need even more than the average of one gallon per day. The individual amount needed depends on age, physical activity, physical condition and time of year.

      Never ration drinking water unless ordered to do so by authorities.

      Drink the amount you need today and try to find more for tomorrow. Under no circumstances should a person drink less than one quart (four cups) of water each day. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.

      Drink water that you know is not contaminated first.

      If necessary, suspicious water, such as cloudy water from regular faucets or water from streams or ponds, can be used after it has been treated (either with water purification tablets or by bringing the suspicious water to a steady boil before consumption - including use for washing and bathing).
      If water treatment is not possible, put off drinking suspicious water as long as possible, but do not become dehydrated.

      Do not drink carbonated beverages instead of drinking water. Carbonated beverages do not meet drinking-water requirements. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol dehydrate the body, which increases the need for drinking water.

      Turn off the main water valves.

      You will need to protect the water sources already in your home from contamination if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines or if local officials advise you of a problem. To close the incoming water source, locate the incoming valve and turn it to the closed position. Be sure you and your family members know how to perform this important procedure.

    • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food:

      Consider the following things when putting together your emergency food supplies:

      Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.

      Choose foods your family will eat.

      Remember any special dietary needs.

      Avoid foods that will make you thirsty.

      Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.

      Following a disaster, there may be power outages that could last for several days. Stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Be sure to include a manual can opener and eating utensils.
      • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener
      • Protein or fruit bars
      • Dry cereal or granola
      • Peanut butter
      • Dried fruit
      • Nuts
      • Crackers
      • Canned juices
      • Non-perishable pasteurized milk
      • High energy foods
      • Vitamins
      • Food for infants
      • Comfort/stress foods
      • Keep food in covered containers.
      • Keep cooking and eating utensils clean.
      • Keep garbage in closed containers and dispose outside, burying garbage if necessary.
      • Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected.
      • Discard any food that has come into contact with contaminated floodwater.
      • Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more.
      • Discard any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
      • Use ready-to-feed formula, if possible, for formula-fed infants. If using ready-to-feed formula is not possible, it is best to use bottled water to prepare powdered or concentrated formula. If bottled water is not available, use boiled water. Use treated water to prepare formula only if you do not have bottled or boiled water. Breastfed infants should continue breastfeeding.

  4. Don’t:

    • Eat foods from cans that are swollen, dented or corroded, even though the product may look safe to eat.
    • Eat any food that looks or smells abnormal, even if the can looks normal.
    • Let garbage accumulate inside, both for fire and sanitation reasons.

    Note:Thawed food usually can be eaten if it is still “refrigerator cold.” It can be re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals. To be safe, remember, “When in doubt, throw it out.”

    Alternative cooking sources in times of emergency including candle warmers, chafing dishes, fondue pots or a fireplace.

    Charcoal grills and camp stoves are for outdoor use only.

    Commercially canned food may be eaten out of the can without warming.

    To heat food in a can:

    1. Remove the label.
    2. Thoroughly wash and disinfect the can. (Use a diluted solution of one part bleach to ten parts water.)
    3. Open the can before heating.
  5. BE PREPARED

    Have a refrigerator thermometer.

    Know where you can get dry ice.

    Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods on hand that do not require cooking or cooling.

    When the Power Goes Out:

    Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.

    The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.

    Refrigerators should be kept at 40° F or below for proper food storage.

    Keep on hand:

    • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • First aid kit
    • Whistle to signal for help
    • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
    • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
    • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
    • Manual can opener for food
    • Local maps
    • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

    Once the Power is Restored:

    Check the temperature inside the refrigerator and freezer.

    If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can't rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.

    Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible.

    Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40° F for two hours or more.

    Using Dry Ice:

    Under normal circumstances you should not keep dry ice in your freezer. If your freezer is functioning properly it will cause the unit to become too cold and your freezer may shut off. However, if you lose power for an extended period of time, dry ice is the best ways to keep things cold.

    Twenty-five pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for 3-4 days.

    If you use dry ice to keep your food cold, make sure it does not come in direct contact with the food.

    Use care when handling dry ice, wear dry, heavy gloves to avoid injury.

    KIT STORAGE LOCATIONS

    Be Prepared For Emergencies While Traveling

    Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.

    HOME

    Your disaster supplies kit should contain essential food, water and supplies for at least three days.

    Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.

    Additionally, you may want to consider having supplies for sheltering for up to two weeks.

    Get more information on building a disaster supplies kit.

    WORK

    You need to be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Make sure you have food and water and other necessities like medicines in your kit. Also, be sure to have comfortable walking shoes at your workplace in case an evacuation requires walking long distances.

    Your kit should also be in one container and ready to “grab and go” in case you are evacuated from your workplace.

    Get more information on building a workplace disaster supplies kit.

    VEHICLE

    In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. This kit should include:

    • Jumper cables
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • First aid kit and necessary medications in case you are away from home for a prolonged time
    • Food items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars; canned fruit and a portable can opener
    • Water for each person and pet in your car
    • AM/FM radio to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages
    • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
    • Shovel
    • Ice scraper
    • Warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes
    • Blankets or sleeping bags

    Also consider:

    A fully-charged cell phone and phone charger

    Flares or reflective triangle

    Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child

    Be prepared for an emergency by keeping your gas tank full and if you find yourself stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives.

  6. TEACH YOUR KIDS AND OTHERS

    TORNADOS

    Tornadoes are violent storms that come from powerful thunderstorms. They appear as a funnel- or cone-shaped cloud with winds that can reach up to 300 miles per hour. They cause damage when they touch down on the ground. They can damage an area one mile wide and 50 miles long. Tornado season commonly occurs during the months of March through August, but they can occur at any time. They can happen in any state but are most commonly found in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas - an area of which is commonly called "Tornado Alley". If there are weather or news reports that say there is a tornado in your area, the most important thing to do is to take shelter immediately in a place without windows, such as a bathroom or a basement. "Tornado" was a 14th-century sailor's word for a violent, windy thunderstorm. It may come from the Spanish word tronada, meaning "thunderstorm."

    Important Terms To Know:

    Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible. Stay tuned to the radio or television news.

    Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted. Take shelter immediately!

    EARTHQUAKES

    Earthquakes are the shaking, rolling or sudden shock of the earth’s surface.

    Earthquakes happen along cracks (called fault lines) in the earth's surface. Earthquakes can be felt over large areas although they usually last less than one minute.

    Earthquakes cannot be predicted - although scientists are working on it! Earthquakes are measured by something called a Richter scale. While earthquakes are common on the West Coast, they can occur in 45 states and territories across the United States.

    In an earthquake, remember to DROP, COVER and HOLD ON. DROP to the floor and get under something for COVER and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. Earthquakes are sometimes called temblors, quakes, shakers or seismic activity. In 1280, "earthquakes" were called "eorthequakynge".

    FIRES

    Fires are unexpected events that can happen anywhere at school, at home, in a store or shopping mall or even in the outdoors in a forest or field. It is important to always know where the emergency exits are and to remember to be calm during a fire emergency. The most important thing you can do during a fire is listening to the direction of adults around you, like your teacher or parent. Remember to use the stairs (NEVER use an elevator) to leave the building or fire area right away and then call 911.

    At Yellowstone National Park, the average time when fires are reported is 3:03 in the afternoon! This is because fires burn more vigorously during the middle of the day when the sun is very hot. These smoky fires are easily seen and often reported by park visitors!

    FLOODS

    Flooding happens during heavy rains, when rivers overflow, when ocean waves come onshore, when snow melts too fast or when dams or levees break. This is the most common natural weather event and can happen in every U.S. state. Flooding may be only a few inches of water or it may cover a house to the rooftop. Floods that happen very quickly are called flash floods. It can happen in every U.S. state and territory. Stay as far away from flood water as you can. Moving flood water can be dangerous because it can knock you off your feet. And any type of flood water can be contaminated, meaning it can contain dangerous substances. The word "flood" comes from Old English and means "a flowing of water, river or sea."

    Important Terms To Know:

    Flood Watch or Flashflood Watch - Flooding may happen soon. Stay tuned to the radio or television news for more information. If you hear a flashflood warning, talk to an adult immediately!

    Flood Warning - You may be asked to leave the area. A flood may be happening or will be very soon. Tell an adult if you hear a flood warning.

    If you have to leave the area, remember to bring your Disaster Supply Kit and make arrangements for your pets.

    Flash flood Warning - A flash flood is happening. Get to high ground right away. Tell an adult!

    A tsunami (pronounced soo-nahm-ee) is a series of giant waves that happen after underwater movement due to a variety of natural events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides and meteorites. The waves travel in all directions from the area of disturbance, much like the ripples that happen after throwing a rock. The waves may travel in the open sea as fast as 450 miles per hour.

    As the big waves approach shallow waters along the coast they grow to a great height and smash into the shore. They can be as high as 100 feet. They can cause a lot of destruction on the shore. Tsunamis generally appear in the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is the state at greatest risk for a tsunami. They get about one a year, with a damaging tsunami happening about every seven years. Alaska is also at high risk. California, Oregon and Washington experience a damaging tsunami about every 18 years.

    If you feel an earthquake in the Pacific Coast area, turn on your battery-powered radio to learn if there is a tsunami warning. If you hear a tsunami warning, and they say to evacuate, do this immediately. "Tsunami" is a Japanese word. Tsu means "harbor" and nami means "wave."

    Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes gather heat and energy through contact with warm ocean waters.

    Evaporation from the seawater increases their power. Hurricanes rotate in a counter-clockwise direction around an "eye." Hurricanes have winds at least 74 miles per hour.

    When hurricanes come onto land, their heavy rain, strong winds and large waves can damage buildings, trees and cars. The heavy waves are called a storm surge. Storm surges are very dangerous and it is important to take shelter during a hurricane and listen to the television or radio for instructions. "Hurricane" comes from the Spanish word huracan.

    TERRORISM

    Terrorism is the use of threat or violence to scare governments into changing their policies.

    A terrorist can be an individual or a member of an organization. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, are examples of acts of terrorism.

    Talk to your parents or teachers if you have questions about this type of emergency. The word "terrorism" first appeared in France (terrorisme) in 1795.