Some coastal regions of the USA are hit by hurricanes and tropical storms every year. Learn the top ten tips here on how to best prepare for the hurricane season 2020 and what to do in case of emergencies.
It's hurricane season once again! The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has precisely defined these interludes of time for each year. In the Central Pacific Basin, for example, the season happens between June 1st and November 30th. The same applies to the Caribbean, and the Atlantic region, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. In the Eastern Pacific Basin, it begins on May 15th.
The season marks a time when those near bodies of water can expect everything from tropical storms and tropical cyclones to major hurricanes. 2020 looks like it could be an especially intense season for hurricanes, given that El Nino, which naturally warms waters in the Pacific, is probably not going to happen in the Pacific this year. No El Nino could mean above-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean.
Even by early June, Atlantic hurricane season has kicked off to a historically fast start, as Hurricane Cristobal hit the Louisiana gulf coast in early June. Some storms even began before June 1.
Given that this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predicts that we will have an above-normal amount of tropical cyclones and hurricanes in 2020, it's important to be prepared. Many storms remain in the Atlantic Ocean, but others hit landfall.
Those who live in one of the risk zones especially need to pay attention to the weather forecast and any unusual atmospheric activity. Since it's harder to prepare properly if you're a vacationer or newcomer, we've compiled some advice from locals to help you weather the storms.
As with everything, good preparation starts with a good plan. This is especially true for the hurricane season. Local authorities provide a lot of information about evacuations. You should study their materials thoroughly before you go on holiday or relocate to an area where hurricanes hit.
It’s also crucial to create an evacuation plan for the entire family. To do that, the NHC has set up a website with all the information you’ll need. It is also important to consider pets. Think about what might happen to your cat or dog during an evacuation. This will prevent you from panicking in an emergency. Test the evacuation route a few times in dry weather. Once a Category 3 storm hits landfall, it might be too late.
You should also listen to weather and evacuation plans during the Hurricane Season. Radio and television news will give you all the important information you need. There are also hurricane apps for smartphones that will keep you up-to-date.
During a violent storm, families can often stay in their house. However, roads can be flooded or paths blocked. That’s why a house in an area threatened by hurricanes should always be well equipped with supplies. This doesn’t just mean stocking up on canned food or enough toilet paper. You should also have plenty of drinking water and battery-operated flashlights, a First Aid Kit, and radios in your house. That way you’ll stay covered even when the power and water supply breaks down. Also, make sure that your car has a full tank of gas, and that medicines and a first aid kit are available.
You should also pack an emergency backpack for each member of the family in case you need to immediately evacuate during the hurricane season. It should contain clothes and toiletries as well as essential medicines. Above all, you should carry important documents like your passport and some cash.
If you’re in a hurricane-prone area for a longer time, you need to play it smart. Make copies of all important documents such as certificates, contracts, or insurance policies, and keep them in a safe place. The same applies to electronic back-ups of all important data. You should also put family photos in a safe place so that these precious memories are not lost forever in the event of a disaster.
Some people use a safety deposit box. Others store valuable items with relatives living outside the endangered region. In any case, you should check before each hurricane season to make sure all backups are current and copies are still available.
A catastrophic hurricane can drastically change your life. Therefore, those living in a hurricane zone should have the appropriate insurance. People who don’t live directly on the coast often underestimate the danger of a hurricane. Floods can reach far into the interior of the country and destroy houses. You might want to consider flood insurance if you live here, too.
Car insurance can also be a sensitive topic during the hurricane season. Contact your insurance company if you’re uncertain about your coverage. As a rule, you should store the vehicle in a secure building or outside the danger zone during times of increased storm risk.
Loose roof tiles, defective cellar windows, or a hanging rain gutter – all these shortfalls can become a real problem during a hurricane. Violent storms can tear down any loose items on your house and cause far greater damage. Defective doors and windows let in water. You can prevent all this by thoroughly overhauling your home before the hurricane season and fixing anything that needs it.
If you can, board up your windows and glass doors before the hurricane hits to protect from falling debris. If you don't have the extra plywood, get duct tape and make a large X on your windows, so that they won't shatter even if you get hit.
It’s also important not to leave anything in the garden during the time of increased risk. Make a habit of monitoring your property every night. Violent winds can blow away outdoor furniture, garden tools, broken wooden slats, or even a child’s bicycle. So make sure to stow everything away. Tightly close shed or garage doors during the hurricane season. Park your car inside a garage if you can!
For the greatest possible safety of your family during a storm, you should follow these rules:
Pay special attention to your children during the hurricane season. This is especially important if your little ones have never experienced heavy storms. Talk as a family about the course of a hurricane and the dangers it brings. Have an evacuation plan, and talk about how to stay safe.
You should pack your child's emergency backpack slightly differently than your hurricane survival kit. Include their favorite cuddly toy for comfort, but plan for their special needs such as diapers or an extra jacket against the cold. Write your phone number on your child's arm with a semi-permanent ink pen. This way, emergency crews can contact you if something goes wrong and you get separated. Otherwise, keep calm and reassure the child. Play a board game that distracts you from the storm and helps pass the time. You can also download a good family app that keeps them busy for a few minutes when you need some time for yourself. Self-care is always important but especially in exceptional situations - and kids stay calm when their parents are calm, too.