SEALIFT

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May 2018

Hurricane Season 2018
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Are You Prepared?

By Military Sealift Command Public Affairs

Spring is upon us and for many our thoughts shift to the outdoors and spending time in the sun with our family and friends. While we are enjoying this pleasant time of year, we are all encouraged to begin to planning for the 2018 Hurricane Season.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends Nov. 30, according to www.ready.gov, and now is the time to get ready.

Hurricanes 101

“A hurricane is a type of storm called a tropical cyclone, which forms over tropical or subtropical waters. A tropical cyclone is a rotating
low-pressure weather system that has organized thunderstorms but no fronts (a boundary separating two air masses of different densities),” according to Dan Lipps, Military Sealift Command’s Emergency Preparedness Manager. “Tropical cyclones with maximum sustained surface winds of less than 39 mph are called tropical depressions. Storms with maximum sustained winds of 39 mph or higher are called tropical storms.”

According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, when a storm’s maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph, it is called a hurricane. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating, or category, based on a hurricane’s maximum sustained winds. The higher the category, the greater the hurricane’s potential for property damage.

“Hurricanes are giant, spiraling tropical storms that can pack wind speeds of over 160 mph and unleash more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain a day,” said Lipps. “These same tropical storms are known as cyclones in the northern Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal, and as typhoons in the western Pacific.”

Watch vs Warning

It is important that everyone understands the difference between a ‘Hurricane Watch’ and ‘Hurricane Warning’ and the steps one should take during each.

“A ‘Hurricane Watch’ means your region could be impacted by destructive storm weather conditions within the next 48 hours,” said Lipps. “If your region is in a ‘Hurricane Watch,’ you should review your evacuation route(s) and tune in for announcements from local officials. You should also review the items in your disaster supply kit. Add items as needed to meet the household needs for children, parents, individuals with disabilities or other access and functional needs and pets.”

A ‘Hurricane Warning’ means that destructive weather is expected in your region within the next 36 hours.

“If your area is under a ‘Hurricane Warning,’ you should follow the orders from local officials, and leave the region if an evacuation is called for,” said Lipps. “Check-in with your family and friends by texting or using social media. Refer to and follow the hurricane time-line preparedness checklist, depending on when the storm is anticipated to hit and the impact that is projected for your location.”

If your area is not being evacuated and you decide to stay in your home, make sure you have adequate supplies in case you lose power and enough water for several days. Do not try and drive anywhere until the roads are safe from flooding or downed electrical lines.

“You should sign up for local emergency alerts in your area,” according to Lipps. “Plan to have at least 1 gallon of water per person and sufficient non-perishable food to last your family for three days,” said Lipps. “Stock up on canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Make sure you have a manual can opener in the house.”

“Also, you should consider adding an emergency weather radio to your home emergency kit; one that can operate with a crank in the event of extended power outages,” added Lipps.

After the Storm

Once a hurricane has passed your area it is important to understand that the crisis may not be over as your region could have suffered destructive damage due to the storm.

“After the storm is gone, continue to listen to local officials for updates and instructions,” said Lipps. “Check-in with your family and friends by texting or using social media and return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.”

“Watch out for debris and downed power lines,” added Lipps. “Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.”

“Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away,” said Lipps.
“If your property is impacted by a hurricane, gather photographs of the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim,” said Lipps. “Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, such a putting a tarp on a damaged roof, as insurance may not cover additional damage which occurs after the storm.”

Family Emergency Plan

Lipps encourages everyone to, “form a family emergency plan. Figure out who to call, what to pack, and where to meet, in advance.”

“When disaster strikes, you will not be thinking about work. Your focus will be on your family’s safety, as it should be,” said Lipps. “The more confident you are in your family’s knowledge of what do in an emergency, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with emergencies both at home and at work. This is one of the most critical, yet often over-looked, elements of an emergency preparedness plan.”

Lipps recommend MSC teammates reference www.ready.gov/make-a-plan for details in formulating a hurricane preparedness plan.

“Your family needs to know where to go in case of a hurricane,” said Lipps. “If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay until the evacuation is over.”

“You should compile a ‘go-bag, disaster supply kit’ which includes a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of your critical information you might need during the evacuation,” said Lipps.

“It is also important for your family to have a plan for staying in communication with each other during a crisis,” added Lipps. “Many communities have text or email alerting systems for receiving emergency notifications.”

Prepare Your Home

Now is also the time to prepare your home to withstand destructive storms.

“Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season, trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe,” said Lipps. “Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.”

“You may reduce property damage to your home by inspecting, securing and reinforcing your roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors,” added Lipps.

“One can also purchase a portable or mounted generator to use during power outages,” suggested Lipps. “Remember to use generators and other alternate power or heating sources outside your home, at least twenty feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture. Never try to power your home’s wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.”

More Information

For more information about being prepared for the 2018 Hurricane Season, check with your local media outlets; the Fleet Weather Center, Norfolk, Virginia; the National Weather Service; and installation websites and social media offerings.

“Be different. According to the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau, more that 60 percent of American’s don’t prepare for Hurricane Season,” concluded Lipps. “Please, go home tonight and start the process. Your family, both at home and here at work, are depending on you.”