Hurricane season is June 1 through Nov. 30, and while no hurricanes have made their way up the coast yet this year, it’s always a possibility. (The greatest numbers of storms usually occur from mid-August to October.) The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a guide, http://1.usa.gov/LsGcuu, that people can use to make sure that they are prepared if one of these cyclonic storms does cruise into New England.
It’s important to know what to do ahead of time, what to do when a hurricane watch is in effect, and what to do if the watch changes to a warning. Watches are issued about 48 hours before the storm is expected to hit, warnings within 36 hours of landfall.
Well beforehand, educate yourself about the safe evacuation routes inland, and where to find shelters, as well as pet friendly hotels or shelters. Be sure your emergency equipment is working and accessible (flashlights, generators, weather radios, etc.). Have non-perishable food supplies and potable water stored. Have some plywood on hand in case you need to board up windows. Review insurance policies.
When a hurricane watch is issued be sure that your vehicle is fueled and that you have some cash on hand. Check batteries and stock up on canned food, first aid supplies, medications and drinking water. Have your grab and go bags packed and handy. Keep up with news broadcasts about the storm so that you have time to board up windows, move boats out of the water, etc. Bring objects, such as lawn chairs, garbage cans, and lawn furniture indoors.
If a warning is issued, evacuate immediately if you are ordered to. Before you leave, close any storm shutters, and notify your family members or a friend where you will be staying. Be aware that most public shelters still do not allow pets, but if you’ve prepared well by taking NOAA’s suggestion about finding pet-friendly motels on a planned evacuation route, it will be much easier to take them with you. Be certain you have a crate for each pet, even if just a collapsible crate, as many hotels require you to use them. General Cage and Guardian Gear both make soft-sided portable crates.
For information on how to create a family safety plan, and how to put together a disaster kit, visit http://www.ready.gov. If you live in Gloucester, be sure you are included in the Code Red emergency notification database so that city officials can keep you informed in the event of a disaster or other situations that might require you to take action. Sign up online at http://bit.ly/PmMkdO.
Although it’s hurricane season, violent weather, such as severe thunder storms and tornadoes, can happen in New England, too. NOAA has a severe weather guide, http://1.usa.gov/zA1yTI, to help people remain safe and understand those weather phenomena as well. When it comes to severe weather, know what to do before an emergency situation occurs and you’ll dramatically improve your chances for being safe and sound when the sun begins shining again!
Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.