Prepare for hurricanes as storm season approaches

Jul 18, 2022

Prepare for hurricanes as storm season approaches

By Lori Draz

Sooner or later, a little rain must fall. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30. New Jersey’s tropical storm activity is typically between August and late October, so it’s time to learn what to do in an emergency. The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management offers these tips on what to do in the event of dangerous weather conditions and events such as long-lasting power outages, floods, evacuations, and more.

The first step is to stay informed. The second is to discuss hurricanes and other natural hazards and make a plan for your family and other people in need in your neighborhood.

First, a few terms: a tropical storm watch is issued when tropical storm conditions, including winds of 39 to 73 mph, pose a possible threat within 48 hours. A tropical storm warning is issued when tropical storm conditions are likely to affect a specified area within 36 hours. A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions, including sustained winds of 74 mph or greater, are possible within 48 hours. And a hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. In coastal or near-coastal areas, a hurricane warning may remain in effect when dangerously high water and unusually high waves continue even though winds may have decreased below hurricane intensity.

Then, experts suggest you build a hurricane kit with a two-week supply of these emergency necessities. Don’t forget special supplies for babies, the elderly, and people with access or functional needs. Make your kit portable and keep it somewhere easy to find.

Items in a well-stocked kit include a battery-operated alarm clock and a battery-operated or crank-operated radio/TV with NOAA access. You should also have at least one flashlight per person and plenty of batteries, a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. On a personal level, make sure you have cash (ATMs don’t work in the event of a power outage), credit cards, cell phone chargers, and prescriptions, including glasses. Keep a gallon of water per person per day and water purification tablets. For meals, have coolers, emergency cooking racks, canned and dried foods, a non-electric can opener, pots, pans, plates, utensils, gas and oil. Don’t forget work boots/shoes, several spare clothes, sleeping bags, sheets, pillows and towels, bleach, sponges and paper towels, soap, shampoo, painkillers, bandages and antibacterial ointment, toiletries , feminine products, toilet paper and wipes. Also pack children’s and baby toys as well as pet food.

Your beloved pets also need protection, so before disaster strikes, get their plans in order. Make sure pets that can be microchipped. Make sure your carrier is large enough for the animal to stand up and turn around, and spend some time getting them used to the carrier beforehand. Snakes can be kept in plastic containers, and birds need their cages. Mark your pet’s contact details wherever you can – on carriers, collars and around your home.

Find a reliable friend or relative who lives some distance away and ask if you and/or your pets can stay with them in an emergency. Locate pet-friendly hotels and motels outdoors and make arrangements with trusted neighbors if a disaster strikes and you can’t get home in time to evacuate. Find boarding kennels that have staff members who stay on the premises with the animals in the event of a disaster. Owners of horses, livestock, or poultry should also develop emergency evacuation plans, and nj.gov/agriculture/animalemergency offers livestock resources. You can also call the Animal Health Division of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture at 609-671-6400.

Remember to keep pets indoors and on a leash for several days after a storm. Not only could there be broken glass and downed power lines, but predatory animals like foxes and raccoons will be out in force looking for food and shelter.

After the hurricane, follow these tips. Only go home when authorities say it’s safe. Do not drive unless necessary, and especially avoid bridges until roads have been cleared of debris and downed power lines.

If you are separated from your family, use your family communication plan or contact FEMA or the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross also runs a system you can sign up for called “Safe and Well” at redcross.org/safeandwell. Dial 2-1-1 or 800-RED-CROSS for more information.

If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs, text SHELTER + your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the shelter closest to you. You can also call 211 or visit Red Cross.org and download the Red Cross app.

Following these tips can help you cope with all weather conditions, so stay prepared and stay safe!


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