Hurricanes don’t only affect people living along the coast. They can cause damage hundreds of miles from the shore. Learn how to be prepared. Hurricane season starts on June 1 in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. It ends on November 30. Before hurricane season each year, make sure you and your loved ones are prepared by planning ahead.

Consider the following:

Step 1

•           Go over your emergency plan with your family.

•           Write down emergency phone numbers and keep them on the refrigerator or near every phone in your house. Program them into your cell phone too.

•           Prepare an emergency supply kit.

•           Locate the nearest shelter and different routes you can take to get there from your home. If shelter locations in your area have not been identified, learn how to find them in the event of a storm.

•           Call the hospital, public health department, or the police about special needs. If you or a loved one is older or disabled and won’t be able to leave quickly, get advice on what to do.

•           Pet owners can contact local animal shelters who may be able to offer advice on what to do with your pets if you are asked to evacuate your home.

Step 2 

Be sure to prepare the following emergency supplies:

•           An emergency food and water supply.

•           An emergency medicine supply.

•           Emergency power sources such as flashlights and extra batteries.

•           Safety and personal items.

•           Important documents, including medical documents, wills, passports, land title, and personal identification.

•           A fire extinguisher. Make sure your family knows where to find it and how to use it!

Step 3 

Know the difference between a hurricane “watch” and “warning.” There are two kinds of alerts:

•           A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 miles per hour [mph] or higher) are possible in a stated area. Experts announce hurricane watches 48 hours before they expect tropical storm-force winds (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) to start.

•           A hurricane warning is more serious. It means hurricane-force winds are expected in a stated area. Experts issue these warnings 36 hours before tropical storm-force winds are expected in the area to give people enough time to prepare for the storm.

For more information about hurricane watches and warnings, check out the N.E.M.A. website.

In conclusion, if you hear that there is a hurricane watch or warning in your area, you can take these important steps to get ready.

Make sure your car is ready before the storm hits.

•           Fill your car’s gas tank.

•           Move cars and trucks into your garage or under cover.

•           Always keep an emergency kit in your car.

Get your home ready.

•           Clear your yard. Make sure there’s nothing that could blow around during the storm and damage your home. Move bikes, lawn furniture, grills, propane tanks, and building material inside or under shelter.

•           Cover up windows and doors. Use storm shutters or nail pieces of plywood to the outside window frames to protect your windows. This can help keep you safe from pieces of shattered glass.

•           Be ready to turn off your power. If you see flooding, downed power lines, or you have to leave your home, switch your power off.

- Pastor Nikita Thompson, Community Service Director