Hurricanes have been described as one of the most destructive forces of nature, and for good reasons. Hurricanes occur nearly every year between the months of June and November, but are most prominent between the months of August and October. Once a Hurricane has been recognized by weather experts, they will label the severity of winds from category one to five; five being the most deadly reaching wind speeds of 157 mph or higher. Arguably the most infamous hurricane in recent years has been Hurricane Katrina, which reached category five and sustained itself at category three (111 – 129 mph) when it hit the Mississippi coast, killing over 1,200 people. The storm caused a total of thirty-two tornadoes, resulting in tides 25 feet above normal sea level, with rain falls of 10 – 14 inches of rain. It's estimated Hurricane Katrina caused over $75 billion worth of damages, and cities such as New Orleans have never been the same again.
Precautions to take:
If you ever find yourself in the midst of a tropical storm, and don't have the opportunity to flee the area, it's important to take every precautionary measure to ensure yours and your families safety. Please note however, if you live in a mobile home, you need to take every possible effort to relocate yourself to a more stable building. Mobile homes are not structurally sound, and will be torn apart during the harsh winds and flooding; these are essentially a death trap. The first step to take during a tropical storm is to keep yourself informed of the hurricanes progress. There are a number of resources out there to use, but the most popular and most informative have to be www.weather.com, www.nhc.noaa.gov, and www.wunderground.com respectively.
Once indoors, it's vital that you stay away from all windows and doors as these are the most vulnerable points of any structure. The hurricane will pick up physical objects regardless of their category level, so it's best to keep yourself in the most central portion of your home, apartment or building. It's best to stay under stable furniture such as a table in case the storm rips through your roof, resulting in flying objects and falling debris.
Hurricanes are well-known for causing floods, and many think that going to the highest level is the best choice, but it's not. The further you elevate yourself, the stronger the winds become around you. So if you live in a high rise apartment, you need to evacuate the premises immediately or locate yourself to a lower level if that's not an option. If flooding becomes a factor, you can then start moving into higher ground, but only when facing this problem should you move during the storm. There is a common misconception as well during a storms more mellow moments. Many believe the storm will have passed, but often times the winds will pick right back up at violent speeds; which is why it's important to keep yourself informed on the storms overall location and category level.
Extra Steps to before a hurricane:
- Turn off all electrical devices, and make sure all plugs are removed from their outlets.
- Make sure you set your refrigerator to its coldest level, in case of a power outage you'll have additional time to preserve your food.
- Don't use your telephone or take a shower/bath.
- Go to your main breaker and turn off all electricity, this is especially important in case of a flood.