With Hurricane season upon us it is important to be Hurricane ready, before, during and after the storm. We have some suggestions below that may serve as a reminder in addition to your usual routines.
Before a Hurricane
To prepare for a hurricane, take the following measures:
• Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when a storm surge or tidal flooding is forecasted.
• Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
• Make plans to secure your property.
• Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
• Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
• Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well-trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
• Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
• Reinforce your garage doors. If wind enters a garage, it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
• Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
• Install a generator for emergencies.
• If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
• Examine your home insurance or rental insurance policy to learn the details of how you will be covered (and what is excluded) in the event of a flood.
During a Hurricane
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
• Listen to the radio or TV for information.
• Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
• Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
• Turn off propane tanks.
• Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
• Keep a supply of water for sanitary purposes, such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
After a Hurricane
• Continue listening to a radio or the local news for the latest updates.
• Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
• If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
• Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed¬out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects including downed electrical wires, weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.
• Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
• Walk carefully around the outside of your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
• Stay out of any building if you smell gas, and if floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
• Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
• Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Keep in mind that the flashlight should be turned on outside before entering, as the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
• Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
• NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
The greatest potential for loss of life related to a hurricane is from the storm surge.
A storm surge is simply water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm tide, which can increase the mean water level to heights affecting roads, homes and other critical infrastructure. In addition, wind-driven waves are superimposed on the storm tide. This rise in water level can cause severe flooding in coastal areas, particularly when the storm tide coincides with the normal high tides.
The storm surge combined with wave action can cause extensive damage and severely erode beaches and coastal highways. With major storms like Hurricane Sandy, complete devastation of coastal communities occurred. Many buildings withstand hurricane force winds until their foundations, undermined by erosion, are weakened and fail.