Shelter From The Storm: Disaster Preparedness Guide
Storm systems, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and snowstorms, are major causes of both financial and personal loss. Every year buildings are destroyed, and people are injured or die as a result of these types of weather conditions and the natural disasters, such as floods, that they cause. Although there is no way to guarantee one's safety during a storm or flood, people should take steps to keep themselves and their families safe. One way to do this is to be prepared. Being prepared means having necessary supplies on hand prior to the event occurring, having a plan outlined, and acting safely and according to the plan during the storm. Preparedness also means understanding the weather conditions that are occurring and the warnings associated with them.
Hurricanes are rotating windstorms that have the potential to become major natural disasters. They are a form of tropical cyclone, which is a cyclone that receives energy from warm tropical oceans. The rotation occurs around the eye of the storm, which is the center of low pressure. In addition to harsh winds, they are typically accompanied by heavy rains. There are five hurricane categories. The lowest category, a category 1 hurricane, does the least damage and features sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph. The deadliest and most destructive category is the Category 5 hurricane, with winds that can exceed 157 miles per hour (mph). Hurricanes are common causes of flooding because of the excessive amount of rain.
- Hurricane Preparedness - Be Ready: This web page tells readers what is required to prepare for a hurricane. It provides information on how to gather information about the storm, maintaining a list of important contact information, and analyzing the risks. It also tells the readers what needs to be done to plan for a hurricane such as creating a supplies kit and an emergency plan.
- Key Facts About Hurricane Readiness: A PDF from the Center for Disease Control that provides information on how to prepare for a hurricane. The document includes information such as emergency supplies that are needed, preparing for a possible evacuation, and what people should do if they are ordered to actually evacuate or to stay home.
- Planning for a Hurricane: A section on the FEMA website that instructs readers on how to prepare for a hurricane in terms of food and water. It also includes information on how to plan ahead for cleaning up debris and what should be done after the hurricane has passed.
- Before a Hurricane: A page on the FEMA website that provides a brief bulleted list of things to do in preparation for a hurricane.
- Be Prepared: A page on the Valdosta State University website that tells the reader what they should do to make a family disaster plan. It also discusses evacuation during a hurricane.
A tornado is a severe windstorm that descends from thunderstorms in a twisting cloud that has a distinct funnel shape. Tornadoes often occur near the end of a thunderstorm and can have rotating winds that reach up to 300 mph. A tornado is highly destructive, devastating anything that comes within its path, including buildings and other structures. They are unpredictable and can move in any direction with a potential path of destruction that is greater than 50 miles long and one mile wide.
- Tornadoes: A page on the Ready website that provides in-depth information about how to prepare for a tornado. The top of the page provides information about tornadoes while the bottom of the page has a tabbed section about how to be prepared for a tornado before, during, and after. It also includes a tab on preparing a safe room.
- Eight Ways to Keep Your Family Safe During a Tornado: A TLC article that tells parents how to prepare for tornadoes to keep their family as safe as possible. The advice given includes information such as keeping emergency supplies in the house and identifying a safe place for the family to go to in the event of a tornado.
- What Should I Do to Prepare for a Tornado: A page on the American Red Cross website that instructs readers on how to prepare for a tornado. Information is provided in bulleted format and includes danger signs to watch out for.
- Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Lightening - A Preparedness Guide: A PDF guide that discusses various types of violent storms, what to look for and how to prepare. The document has a specific section that discusses how schools should prepare for tornadoes. It also includes other advice such as tornado safety rules.
- Tornadoes: A brief article about tornadoes that reviews what they are, how they are formed, and how scientists assess the damage that they cause. It also explains the different types of tornadoes.
Hail is a weather condition in which freezing droplets of water fall from the sky. It is caused when warm updrafts collide with cold downdrafts during a thunderstorm. If water is caught where these updrafts meet, it freezes. The frozen water begins to fall only to be swept up by the warm updraft again where it encounters more water and the cold downdraft. This repeated process causes the ice to increase in size. When the ice falls to the ground it is called hail and depending on how many layers of ice have formed, it may be small in size or large. When these drops of ice fall from the sky they can hit people, animals, or objects such as cars or the roofs of buildings and homes. Large pieces of hail can put dents in cars, break car windows and damage crops. If a large enough piece of hail hits a person, it could also result in injury.
- Severe Local Storms: A website that tells readers how to prepare for severe local storms that include hail. It provides tips that are hazard specific.
- Be Prepared - How to Protect Your Home From Hail: The Weather Channel provides helpful tips on how homeowners can prepare their home for hailstorms.
- What to Do For a Hailstorm: A brief overview on how to prepare for a hailstorm before it occurs and what should be done after the storm has hit.
- Emergency Preparedness: A web page that gives brief tips on how to stay safe outdoors during a hailstorm.
- Hailstorm Safety Tips: Four tips in bullet format on how to remain safe during a hailstorm. The page also gives a brief history about hail in Fort Worth, Texas.
Flooding can occur anytime that there is an excess of water with no place to go. It can occur with heavy rains, as a result of overflowing rivers, fast melting snow, the inability of the ground in urban areas to absorb heavy rainfall, or clogged or ill-kept drainage systems. Some locations may be more susceptible to flooding than others. There are several different types of floods that can occur, such as coastal flooding, river flooding, urban flooding, and flash flooding. Of these types, flash floods are often the most deadly. They are rapid moving, can flood an area in less than six hours, destroy buildings, rip up trees, or cause drowning.
- Are you Ready for a Flood?: A Ready Ohio page that explains how people can prepare for potential floods. This includes understanding the different types of warnings for floods.
- How to Prepare for Floods: A page on the Folusa County, Florida website that provides tips on how to prepare for a flood. This page includes necessary supplies and the importance of having a plan.
- Flood Safety Tips: A page on The National Geographic website that explains safety tips for people threatened by floods. This includes being ready before flooding and safety tips during the flood.
- Before a Flood: Advice from the FloodSmart.gov website regarding the preparation of one's home to prevent excess damage from floods. The development of a family plan is also discussed.
- United States Search and Rescue Task Force: Floods and Flash Floods: Preparation advice that also explains the different types of flooding. The article also discusses the impact that flooding has on automobiles and the hidden dangers that floods represent.
Snowflakes are ice crystals that fall from clouds whose temperatures reach below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. An accumulation of unmelted snowflakes creates a layer of snow that can build up on homes and the streets, creating conditions that are dangerous for driving. Snow is often a large part of winter storms and during times of heavy snowfall, it can cause conditions that are dangerous to one's health. Severe snowstorms may also cause power outages and make it difficult for people to leave their homes for supplies such as food.
- Winter Driving Tips: A page on the West Virginia University website that provides tips on staying safe while driving in the snow. The tips are provided by the USDA Forest Service.
- Ice and Snow Storm PDF: A PDF document that explains how to prepare for a snow storm. The document also defines different potential warnings related to snow and ice storms.
- Winter Storms and Power Outages: A page on the Maine Prepares website that gives readers tips on how to prepare for winter storms with snow and the potential for power outages.
- Winter Driving: A page on the Ready Atlantic website that gives readers preparedness tips for driving in snow conditions. It discusses how to prepare a winter car kit and what to do if stuck in a blizzard.
- Winter Weather Preparedness: A PDF from the State of Illinois website that reviews how to prepare for a storm before it hits, creating a winter storm survival kit for traveling, and what to do when at home or outside. The website also includes terminology associated with snow and winter storms and winter weather facts for Illinois.
Scenario Preparedness Plans
Any of these conditions can strike regardless of whether or not a person is at home, work, or traveling on the road. If this happens, it is important that they are prepared for any possible emergency. There are specific items and plans that should be made before disaster strikes. At home, families prepare by creating an emergency preparedness kit that includes items needed during most emergency situations. The kit should include a battery-operated radio, flashlights for every member in the household, and batteries. There should be a first-aid kit that is regularly replenished, food that is non-perishable, and items to help keep warm. Emergency preparedness at home also includes having an emergency plan for the family. This ensures that everyone knows what to do during the emergency, where they should go and how to meet up or contact one another if they should become separated.
Most often, employers will have some form of plan for their employees in the event of an emergency. If a person is uncertain what that plan is, he or she should ask their employer what emergency protocols are. Preparing for an emergency at work often involves taking steps to ensure the safety of employees, customers or clients, and equipment in the office. Preparedness plans at work typically outline how employees should exit the building, the procedure for shutting down and securing electronics to prevent or reduce potential damage and the removal or placement of important paperwork to a protected area. There should be provisions available in the event that employees are unable to leave the building, such as enough water for several days and food. A first-aid kit should also be on the premises as well as a toolbox. Employees should have a copy of any emergency plan that the workplace has. In areas that have severe storms, there should be a designated safe location in the building.
When traveling there are certain things that should be kept in the vehicle. These items will help to prepare the traveler for any emergency that might arise. Certain items are more valuable during certain seasons, such as warm blankets, gloves, and chains for snow travel. Other items should always be kept in the vehicle, regardless of the season. These items include a first aid kit, booster cables and safety flares, a cellphone charger, and both a flashlight and battery operated radio with extra batteries. Several bottles of water and additional, non-perishable food are also items that are necessary when on the road during an emergency situation, particularly if travelers are stranded for any length of time.
- Storm Safety: A page on the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) website that discusses how to prepare for various types of storms. The site discusses what to do before the storm and what to do after the storm has passed. The page discusses how to prepare for hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, ice storms, and even sandstorms.
- Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Businesses: A link that explains how businesses can prepare for hurricanes. Advice includes planning before the hurricane and what to do after.
- OSHA Preparedness: Tips from OSHA on how businesses can ensure the safety of their employees in the event of a tornado.
- Preparedness Essentials: Five steps that can be taken to ensure that organizations are properly prepared for an emergency situation. Each step is outlined briefly.
- Safe Winter Driving Tips and Checklist: A PDF document that includes a checklist of items that should be kept in a car when on the road during the winter.