Responding to Hurricane Watches and Warnings

Time and preparation are your best allies during hurricane season. The system of watches and warnings from the National Weather Service was developed to help you organize your time and prepare for a weather event. It's impossible to stop hurricanes from being destructive, but knowing how the NWS alert systems work can help you keep your losses to a minimum.

Weather is wildly unpredictable. When hurricane watches and warnings are given, they should always be taken seriously:

Hurricane watches are issued when hurricane conditions are possible within 24 to 36 hours. As conditions worsen, the watch may be elevated to a hurricane warning. Warnings indicate that a hurricane is expected in less than 24 hours with sustained winds of 74 mph or greater along with high water conditions.

Increase your chances for the best by preparing for the worst. Evacuations are often ordered under hurricane conditions. Before any hurricane strikes, plan an evacuation route for your family that leads 20 to 50 miles inland, as conditions are more dangerous closer to water. In case roadways are closed off, identify more than one possible shelter. Take steps to protect your property. When possible, include flood insurance in your homeowner's policy. Whether or not you have coverage, prepare your home for storm conditions by boarding up windows or using hurricane shutters. Prune and trim dead branches from your trees to allow the wind to blow easily past your trees without knocking them over. Clear loose items from your yard such as trash cans, hanging plants, and lawn furniture; hurricane winds will turn these items into deadly missiles. Be prepared by always keeping a disaster kit on hand containing:

* Flashlights with extra batteries
* Portable radio with extra batteries
* First aid kit
* High energy food rations and bottled water
* Copies of important papers
* Cash/credit cards
* Sturdy shoes and protective clothing
* Prescription medications

What to Do When a Watch or a Warning is Issued
The best response to a hurricane watch or warning is always to remain calm. Use the advance notice to make final preparations. This should include the following actions:

* Monitor news broadcasts
* Store extra drinking water in jugs, bath tub, etc.
* Turn refrigerator and freezer to highest settings
* Store valuables and important papers in a waterproof container
* Fill gas tank of car
* Avoid flood waters when driving
* Stay indoors unless advised to evacuate
* Be alert to tornadoes developing from hurricane conditions
* Stay as far away from windows as possible

Hurricanes are wildly destructive, and the weather alert system exists to help you protect your family and property from harm. Use the advances notice wisely and take steps to prepare in order to keep a hurricane from destroying your life.

-- Catie Hayes

External Links:
Purchase sleeping shelter products!
Survival Gear: Disaster, Emergency Preparedness
disaster kit
Flashlights with extra batteries
Portable radio with extra batteries
First aid kit
High energy food rations and bottled water
Prescription medications
drinking water
waterproof container

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