Hurricane Preparedness (cont.)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- Hurricane definition and facts
- How do hurricanes form?
- How are hurricanes categorized?
- How dangerous are hurricanes?
- What is the National Hurricane Center's role?
- How are hurricanes named and tracked?
- How do you prepare for a hurricane?
- Have a family plan for a hurricane
- What supplies do I need for a hurricane supply kit?
- Where can I go to be safe during a hurricane?
- How do I secure my home during a hurricane?
- What about my pets during a hurricane?
- What to do after a hurricane (hurricane aftermath health concerns)
- How can I make sure our water is safe?
- How do I perform first aid for injuries?
- What can I do to cope with mental stress after a hurricane?
- How can I prevent injuries after a hurricane?
- How do I deal with wild and domestic animals in a disaster?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What is the National Hurricane Center's role?
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is a division of The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that predicts, names, and tracks tropical weather systems. They issue watches and warnings during the Atlantic and northeast Pacific hurricane seasons, and make predictions on tropical weather outlooks for those areas.
When a tropical storm or hurricane is possible within 48 hours, the National Hurricane Center issues a watch, indicating that storm conditions may occur in the area. When a tropical storm or hurricane is expected within 36 hours, the NHC issues a warning, indicating storm conditions are expected for the area. Watches and warnings are given by The National Weather Service and on NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR).
How are hurricanes named and tracked?
A tropical storm that may become a hurricane is a type of weather system that is tracked to help minimize loss of life. When wind speeds reach 39 miles per hour (tropical storm wind speed), these weather systems are named. Naming helps facilitate warning and tracking services communicate storm information to the public, and reduces confusion when there is more than one storm occurring at the same time. If the named tropical storm reaches 74 or more miles per hour, the tropical storm is reclassified as a hurricane.
In 1953, the National Hurricane Center originated a naming list, which is now maintained by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. The lists are alphabetical, alternating between men's and women's names. The lists rotate every 6 years. If a hurricane results in significant damage or death, the name is usually retired and not used again. A complete list of hurricane names is available at the National Weather Service National Hurricane Center.
Hurricanes are tracked by the National Hurricane Center. There are many factors that go into tracking a hurricane, including atmospheric conditions, water temperatures, and even historical information. Computer models use this data to predict what track a storm will take. Tracking has become more precise over the years and usually predictions are relatively accurate 24 hours prior to the storm. Many computer-generated models attempt to predict a hurricane's path up to five days prior. However, beyond a day or two, these predictions become less accurate. Individuals living in an area that may be impacted by a hurricane should heed all local warnings.
How do you prepare for a hurricane?
The best way to prepare for a hurricane is to have a plan before hurricane season starts, so you will know what your family needs to have, where to go if you need to evacuate, and what you need to do to protect your home. Below are suggestions for your family hurricane plan and supplies.
Have a family plan for a hurricane
The National Hurricane Center suggests having a family disaster plan that is written down and discussed with all family members before a storm approaches. Create a checklist for all the things you will need to do in the event of an approaching storm.
- Know how vulnerable your home may be to storm surge, flooding and winds.
- Make sure you have flood insurance.
- Know your Zone. In areas that can be affected by hurricanes, local emergency management assigns Zones (areas of a city or county, often based on zip codes) in the event evacuation is suggested (or required). Usually the first to evacuate are those closest to the water (storm surge susceptible: for example, Zone A) and those in mobile homes.
- If you are not required to evacuate, know which rooms in your house are safest to weather out the storm (usually interior rooms without windows).
- If you must evacuate, determine in advance your evacuation route and where you will go.
- If you need to evacuate, plan ahead in regard to what to do with your pets. If you need to evacuate, most hurricane shelters do not permit animals, and those that do often require advance registration.
- Have a family emergency communication plan if your family separates. The Office of Homeland Security has a communication plan outline.
- If you are not in an evacuation zone and you decide to stay in your home, make sure you have enough food, medications, pet supplies, water, and other items you will need for at least three days in case you lose power and water and you are unable to leave your area due to blocked roads or flooding.
- Consider purchasing a portable generator you can use in the event of power loss.
- Prepare your home: trim or remove tree limbs, secure rain gutters, reinforce your roof and doors, and put up shutters over the windows or install hurricane-proof windows.
- Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a Disaster Supply Kit (see Supply Kit information).
- Use a NOAA weather radio and make sure you have extra batteries (preferably fresh or new ones still in the package).
- Take locally offered or Internet based First Aid, CPR, and disaster preparedness classes.
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