At the start of last year’s hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted a more active season due, in part, to the record warm ocean temperatures.
This year, the NOAA predicted there would be 12 to 18 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes and three to six major hurricanes at Category 3 and above. Boy, are they on the right track!
The hurricane season in the Atlantic began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season began May 15 and also ends Nov. 30. September and October normally are the prime times of year for tropical developments in the Caribbean and the Gulf, and we certainly already have had several very powerful storms in the Eastern Pacific area.
In 2010, there were 12 depressions, 10 storms and four hurricanes with a total of 47 direct fatalities and damages of $2.285 billion by September of last year.
We repeatedly are reminded that disaster preparedness is extremely important, but few people ever are prepared for the yearly hurricane season. We promote National Preparedness Month each September to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses and schools. Two immediate actions families can take are creating family disaster plans and assembling disaster supply kits.
Create a plan and make an emergency kit
• Gather information about hazards. Find out what types of disasters could occur and how you should respond. Learn your community’s warning signals and evacuation plans.
• Meet with your family to create a plan to include provisions for family pets and elderly family members. Discuss what you would do if advised to evacuate. Pick two places to meet: a spot right outside your home for an emergency and a place away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. Choose an out-of-state friend or relative as your “family check-in contact” for everyone to call if the family gets separated.
Implement your plan
• Have your family learn basic safety measures, such as CPR and first aid, how to use a fire extinguisher and how and when to turn off utilities in your home.
• Teach children how and when to call 911.
• Assemble a disaster supply kit with enough items to meet your needs for at least three days.
• Keep important family documents in a waterproof container ready to travel
• Practice and update your plan at least once every six months. Ask questions to make sure
your family remembers meeting places, phone numbers and safety rules. Conduct drills. Replace stored water and food every six months.
The above information was adapted from material generated by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. For more information, go to www.gema.state.ga.us, www.ready.gov or www.redcross.org.
Ratcliffe is a consultant to the Coastal Health District. You can call her at 876-6399.