August 27, 2012 3:12 am
One of the worst hurricanes in U.S. history occurred in late August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. Katrina spanned approximately 200 miles with wind speeds topping out at nearly 150 miles per hour. By the time Hurricane Katrina made landfall it had lost some of its intensity and was downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 Hurricane, but the storm still produced catastrophic levels of torrential rain, severe weather and a 25-foot plus storm surge that devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast.
Experts describe a hurricane as a severe tropical storm with a circular motion that forms in the warmth of the southernmost waters such as the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Hurricanes can cause massive amounts of damage with winds in excess of 150 miles per hour, storm surges, tornadoes and flooding due to heavy rainfall.
Here are some tips that can help individuals and families prepare for dangerous hurricanes and other types of severe weather:
• Be prepared: Formulating an emergency plan now is of utmost importance. Waiting for an emergency or the threat of dangerous weather to decide a course of action is a serious mistake.
• Find the best local sources of important information: Maintaining access to radio, news, and websites is important to stay informed throughout any severe weather event.
• Be aware of one’s surroundings and intimately familiar with property, neighborhood, any flood-prone areas, damns, levees, etc. A community can potentially be devastated by severe weather to the degree where even a longtime resident may not recognize or be able to navigate through it without the usual landmarks.
• Having a plan and providing enough time to secure all property is important. This should include securing items such as patio furniture, barbeque grills, garbage cans, decorative lawn ornaments and other items.
• Keeping trees trimmed to lower the risk of wind damage is a good idea.
• Keeping gutters and downspouts clear and maintained to keep water flowing through the proper channels can help avoid wall and ceiling water damage.
• Covering all windows to prevent the glass from shattering is important. The recommended method includes use of storm shutters or 5/8” marine grade plywood.
• Knowing the local Coastal Evacuation Route and/or designated escape plan for the local community should be a focus before the storm hits. In the event of a hurried evacuation, avoiding flood-prone roads and bridges is important.
• Identifying important documents, heirlooms and personal belongings is a smart precaution. Placing them in a safe, easily accessible area inside a protective container for transportation in the event of an evacuation will help save crucial time.
• Ensuring that appropriate insurance coverage has been purchased in the event of future disasters is always something to seriously consider for those in storm prone areas.
Hurricanes are very real threats that have the potential to cause catastrophic damage not only to home and property, but to entire communities. The importance of preparedness cannot be overstated.
Remember that no belongings are important enough to take unnecessary risks for and always follow the instructions of emergency management officials in order to optimize the chances of staying safe.
Source: All Hands Fire Equipment
Published with permission from RISMedia.