Hurricane Preparedness

Ready Today, Safer Tomorrow

By Lina Younes

The 2012 Hurricane Season will officially begin on June 1st. However, two named tropical storms on the list have made their early appearance in May weeks before the official season opening. Even though NOAA is predicting a near-normal 2012 hurricane season for the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea area, it is never too early to get ready before a storm approaches our shores. Even if you do not reside along coastal areas, you could feel the wrath of a hurricane inland from strong winds, torrential rains, flooding, subsequent landslides or debris flow.

So, what should you do as soon as possible? Develop your own emergency kit and hurricane preparedness plan for you and your family. Here are some of the steps you should take in advance to prepare for this event and stay safe.

  • In developing your emergency supplies kit, store up on canned food, bottled water, and other supplies like batteries.
  • Place matches in a waterproof container
  • Stock up on paper cups, plates, plastic utensils
  • Remember to stock up on pet food for your pets
  • Have important family documents on hand in a portable waterproof container
  • Have cash on hand
  • Have books, games, activities for children
  • Have a battery-powered portable radio
  • Have a manual can opener
  • Around the house, clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts
  • Learn about hurricane evacuation routes in your area
  • Using technology, you can sign up to get text messages from FEMA with updated information about the storm
  • Have emergency phone numbers on hand to report power outages with your local utility company or get information on local shelters

After the hurricane is long gone, you might still have to deal with the storm aftermath.  There are certain tips that should help you to stay safe and recover faster after the storm.

  • Do not use a generator inside your home, garage or other enclosed areas. Carbon monoxide in generator exhaust can easily build up with lethal consequences.
  • If your drinking water is not safe, boil for one minute to kill water-borne diseases.
  • Mold growth may be a problem after flooding, get more information on flood cleanup to avoid indoor air quality problems.

Hope you find these tips useful. Any personal suggestions on preparing for a storm?

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Before the Storm Hits

When I was growing up in Puerto Rico, I remember the stories my great grandmother and great aunt used to tell me about hurricanes past– San Ciriaco, San Ciprián, San Felipe–are just some of the names I remember. I wondered why hurricanes in Spanish always had the names of saints. I found out that hurricanes used to acquire their names according to the day they hit in accordance to the Catholic calendar. Each day commemorates the birth day of one or more saints according to the calendar. Not a very scientific system, I must add. As of 1960, the naming process in the US was standardized. In times past, these storms were so newsworthy that many other events, such as births, were described as “having happened before or after a given hurricane”. For example, I was born on the year of the Santa Clara hurricane (AKA Betsy on the US Mainland), which was a relatively mild hurricane by Puerto Rican standards at the time.

When the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning, I recall that the entire preparation process usually revolved around buying batteries, flashlights, collecting water, and cooking plenty of food and perhaps boarding windows. That was it. Since we were pretty luck from 1960 to about 1989, the hurricane preparations basically were associated with party time. These were opportunities for great family gatherings with a lot of food where everyone sat around the TV or radio depending upon whether you had electricity or not—not well thought out emergency preparedness techniques.

It’s wise to prepare a kit of supplies in preparation for potential disasters. Hurricane season is a good time to start. It’s best to stock up on food that is not easily perishable or that does not require refrigeration in the event you are without electricity for extended periods of time. Stock up on water and drinking water. Keep a three day supply of drinking water for the family if possible. Stocking up on your prescription medications is also a good idea. In terms of your property, you should also check around your home to minimize debris as much as possible. It’s also a good idea to clear rain gutters and down spouts in advance. Keep a full tank of gas in your car in the event that you might be ordered to evacuate.

For additional tips, before and after the storm, visit our web pages for information in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

And if the whole naming process caught your interest, visit the National Hurricane Center for the lists of hurricanes names planned years in advance for both Atlantic and Pacific storms.

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.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.