Hurricane Season: Better Get Ready

Have you ever listened to the weather report and wished that the weatherman missed the mark? Well, after learning that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecast projects a “busy Atlantic hurricane season” this year, we all hope these predictions don’t materialize. Given the situation of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the environmental repercussions of a major hurricane in that area could even be more devastating. Since we don’t have ways to control weather conditions, the best thing we can do with this forecast is to get ready before tropical storms approach our shores.

We are all aware of the madness at local supermarkets and hardware stores on the eve of a storm. Since we can anticipate the possibility of power outages during or right after a hurricane, why not make sure we have flashlights and batteries on hand well in advance of a hurricane? A battery-operated radio is another useful item to monitor storm developments. I remember that during one of the snowstorms this year, my small battery-operated radio was my lifeline to the outside world when my family and I were stuck home without electricity for 15 hours!

Speaking about electrical outages, never use a generator inside your home or an enclosed space like a basement or garage. The engine exhaust generates carbon monoxide, a toxic deadly toxic gas. Make sure these portable generators are used safely.

As a result of a hurricane or natural emergency, drinking water supplies may be contaminated. You can prepare by having bottled water at hand. Listen to local media reports during and after the storm for information on water safety.

While you are planning how to protect your family and home during a hurricane, don’t forget about your pets. If you live along the coastline or in an area prone to floods, there is the potential you might have to evacuate with short notice. Plan ahead where you can take your pet in such an emergency. And lastly, don’t forget about important papers like passports and insurance documents. It’s always best to prepare for the worse case scenario to be safe before the hurricane winds and rain come your way.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force.  Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.