The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year, and the American Red Cross is urging people in hurricane prone areas to get ready now after back-to-back years of record-breaking hurricane seasons.
Senior Vice President of Disaster Cycles Services, American Red Cross
The 2020 hurricane season set records with 30 named storms and the greatest number of billion-dollar disasters to strike the United States in a single year. While experts do not anticipate the same level of historic storms as last year, NOAA reports this year there could be 13 to 20 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher, and six to ten of these could become hurricanes.
Last year was a tragic year for millions of people impacted by disaster and when compounded by the pandemic, took an enormous toll on families.
With the Atlantic hurricane season currently underway (June 1 to November 30), it’s critical for people who live in hurricane prone areas to make their preparedness plans now. It only takes one storm to devastate a community. With climate change, what was until very recently an episodic series of acute events has become a chronic condition of devastating impacts — leaving families and communities scrambling to prepare. Additionally, so much of our daily lives has changed and evolved with the impacts of COVID-19 and our preparedness plan must continue to evolve as well.
But, preparing for hurricane season doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow a few steps to help make sure your family is ready to evacuate or shelter at home if a storm threatens your neighborhood.
Know where you will go, how you will get there, and where you will stay. Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency if you have to evacuate. If you already have an emergency plan, update it, review it, and practice it with family members so everyone knows what to do if an emergency occurs.
Compile items like a gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, medications, supplies for infants or pets, a multi-purpose tool, personal hygiene items, copies of important papers, cell phone chargers, extra cash, blankets, maps of the area, and emergency contact information. If you already have a disaster kit, now is the time make sure the food and water is not expired and that copies of important documents are up to date. If you’re not evacuated, be prepared for power outages. Have fresh batteries in your flashlights and learn how to use a generator safely.
Find out how local officials will contact you during a disaster and how you will get important information, such as evacuation orders. Identify and become familiar with both formal communication sources such as your local news outlets as well as community-based networks through social media and local organizations and community groups. These networks can prove invaluable in navigating recovery from a major disaster.
Download the free Red Cross Emergency app to help keep you and your loved ones safe with real-time alerts, the location of open Red Cross shelters, and safety advice on hurricanes and other emergencies.
If you do have to evacuate and go to a shelter, we will continue to ensure people have a safe place to stay. Red Cross support of sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency plans and the scale of the disaster. This year, the priority will be to open safe group shelters in most cases for people evacuating in the face of emergencies. Appropriate precautions will stay in place that help to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, including masks, health screenings, enhanced cleaning procedures and encouraging social distancing.