2018 Tropical Storm / Hurricane Preparedness and Safety Resources
Given that Tropical Storm Michael 90 miles E of Cozumel, Mexico, moving north near 7 mph with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. Gradual strengthening is expected during the next few days. Forecast to be a hurricane when it reaches the northeastern Gulf Coast by mid-week, and the risk of dangerous storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts continues to increase. It is expected to affect portions of the FL Gulf Coast that are especially vulnerable to storm surge, regardless of the storm’s track or intensity. Isolated heavy rainfall is possible by Thursday over portions of GA, SC, and western NC. (National Operations Summary, 10/8/2018), please forward the following preparedness and safety resources to Regional Communicators working in:
- Southeast and Caribbean Division: Florida (All Regions), Georgia Region, Alabama Region
- Mid-Atlantic Division: (South Carolina Region, Eastern North Carolina Region, Greater Carolinas Region)
Please advise when you wish to collaborate on safety messaging for communicators ie talking points.
2018 Tropical Storm / Hurricane Preparedness and Safety Resources
Planning and preparing can make a big difference in safety and resiliency in the wake of a hurricane or tropical storm. The ability to quickly recover requires a focus on preparedness, advance planning, and knowing what to do in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm. Some of the preparedness and safety guidance presented below originates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS).
A tropical cyclone is a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has a closed low-level circulation. They are classified as follows:
- Tropical Depression: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 38 mph or less.
- Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph.
- Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher.
- Major Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or higher, corresponding to a Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
While hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms and depressions also can be devastating. The primary hazards from tropical cyclones (which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.
- Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds. This hazard is historically the leading cause of hurricane related deaths in the United States. Storm surge and large battering waves can result in large loss of life and cause massive destruction along the coast. Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays, rivers, and estuaries. Storm surge can cause water levels to rise quickly and flood large areas—sometimes in just minutes.
- Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from tropical cyclones making landfall. Widespread torrential rains associated with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated.
- Winds from a hurricane can destroy buildings and manufactured homes. Signs, roofing material, and other items left outside can become flying missiles during hurricanes.
- Tornadoes can accompany tropical cyclones making landfall. These tornadoes typically occur in rain bands well away from the center of the storm.
- Dangerous waves produced by a tropical cyclone’s strong winds can pose a significant hazard to coastal residents and mariners. These waves can cause deadly rip currents, significant beach erosion, and damage to structures along the coastline, even when the storm is more than a 1,000 miles offshore.
Hurricane Season: The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30.
Areas Affected: Each year, many parts of the United States experience heavy rains, strong winds, floods, and coastal storm surges from tropical storms and hurricanes. Affected areas include all Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas and areas over 100 miles inland, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, parts of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast, and the U.S. territories in the Pacific.
Prepare in Advance
We encourage regions in hurricane-prone areas to review the resources below and to help us keep everyone safe by sharing preparedness and safety resources with their workforce, clients and through the media.
Take these three steps: (1) build an emergency kit; (2) make a disaster plan; and (3) be informed about how local authorities will notify you during a disaster, whether through local media or NOAA Weather Radio stations or channels.
You should also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have real time information about the storm, shelter locations and hurricane safety tips at your fingertips. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
Watches and Warnings
Know the difference.
Tropical Storm Watch: Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified area within 48 hours.
Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within your area. Because it may not be safe to prepare for a hurricane once winds reach tropical storm force, The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issues hurricane watches 48 hours before it anticipates tropical storm-force winds.
Storm Surge Watch: A storm surge watch is defined as the possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours. If you are under a storm surge watch, check for evacuation orders from your local officials.
Tropical Storm Warning: Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within your area within 36 hours.
Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within the specified area. NHC issues a hurricane warning 36 hours in advance of tropical storm-force winds to give you time to complete your preparations. All preparations should be complete. Evacuate immediately if so ordered.
Storm Surge Warning: There is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 36 hours. If you are under a storm surge warning, check for evacuation orders from your local officials.
· Continue monitoring alerts.
· Complete storm preparations.
· Immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.
Prepare in Advance
- Sign up for local alerts and warnings.
- Sign up for emergency alerts and notifications that your community may offer.
- Be sure you can stay informed by having access to emergency radio broadcasts. You can receive alerts and warnings directly from the National Weather Service with a NOAA Weather Radio. Consider purchasing a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA radio if you don’t already have one as it is very common to experience power, cellular, and internet outages during and after a hurricane. Some radio receivers are designed to work with external notification devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Build an emergency kit that contains supplies for about three days, to include a gallon of water per person per day, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications, medical supplies, and copies of important documents. Remember items for young children such as diapers, and household members with medical needs. See supply list below for consideration:
Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
First aid kit
Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
Sanitation and personal hygiene items
Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
Current digital photos of loved ones, updated every six months, especially for children
Cell phone with chargers
Family and emergency contact information
Map(s) of the area
Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
Games and activities for children
Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
Extra set of car keys and house keys
Manual can opener
N95 or surgical masks
Tools/supplies for securing your home
Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
Household liquid bleach
Blankets or sleeping bags
- Create an evacuation plan for your household. Learn about how your community responds to hurricanes and plan routes to local shelters.
- Evacuation Plan: If the danger is significant, state or local government officials may issue an evacuation notice. You can do the following to be better prepared.
o Learn your community’s evacuation plan and identify several posted routes to leave the area.
o Identify a place you will go in the event of an evacuation (friend, relative, shelter)
o Register family members with medical needs as required and make plans for your pets to be cared for.
- Emergency Communication Plan: Your household may not be together when a hurricane occurs, so it is important to know how to contact one another and how to get back together.
o Ensure that every member of your household carries an updated emergency contact card.
o Remember, landline and cellular phone systems are often overwhelmed following a disaster, so you may need to use text messages and social media.
o Designate an out-of-town contact who can help your household reconnect.
- Protect your property by installing sewer backflow valves, anchoring fuel tanks, reviewing insurance policies, and cataloging belongings.
- Protect windows with permanent storm shutters or invest in one-half inch marine plywood that is pre-cut to fit your doors and windows.
- Identify a place to store lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools and trash cans (away from stairs and exits) to prevent them from being moved by high winds and possibly hurting someone.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on the awnings.
- Remember that standard homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover flooding but flood insurance does. Get information at www.FloodSmart.gov.
IF YOU ARE IN AN AREA WHERE AUTHORITIES ADVISE OR ORDER YOU TO EVACUATE: TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY TO EVACUATE!
Leave immediately. Bring your emergency kit with you. Follow posted evacuation routes and do not try to take shortcuts because they may be blocked. Stick to designated evacuation routes. For localized information:
- Evacuation routes: Check with your state’s Department of Transportation or Office of Emergency Management website to find routes near you.
- Emergency shelter location: Find shelters by visiting redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App.
IF YOU ARE IN AN AREA WITHOUT AN EVACUATION NOTICE:
- If you are in an area that is flooding (e.g., on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway), move to a location on higher ground before floodwaters reach you.
o Don’t walk, swim or drive through floodwater. Just six inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over and two feet will float a car. Remember, Turn Around! Don’t Drown!
o If caught on a flooded road with rapidly rising waters, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
- Stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors. If you are in a temporary structure, safely move to a sturdy building and go to a windowless room on the lowest level that is not likely to flood.
- Never use a generator, gasoline-powered equipment and tools, grill, camp stove, or charcoal burning device inside or in any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outside and at least 20 feet from doors, windows, and vents.
RESIDENTS OF MOBILE/MANUFACTURED HOMES:
No mobile home or manufactured home – no matter how new it is – can provide safe shelter from hurricane force winds. Straps or other tie-downs will not protect a mobile home from the high winds associated with a hurricane. Mobile home residents must evacuate when told to do so by local authorities.
- If evacuated, return only when authorities say it is safe to do so.
- Let friends and family know you’re safe – Register yourself as safe on the Safe and Well website
- Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding.
- Do not wade in floodwaters, which contain dangerous debris like broken glass, metal, dead animals, sewage, gasoline, oil, and downed power lines.
- Throw out any food including canned items that were not maintained at a proper temperature or have been exposed to floodwaters. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Avoid drinking tap water until you know it is safe. If uncertain, boil or purify it first.
- Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage, bacteria, and chemicals.
- Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
- Help people who require assistance—infants, older adults, people without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
- Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Promote emotional recovery by following these tips.
Returning Home Safely
- Do not enter a building until it has been inspected for damage to the electrical system, gas lines, septic systems, and water lines or wells. Wear appropriate protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, rubber boots, and masks to protect you from debris and airborne particles, e.g., mold and dust.
- Follow these tips for inspecting your home’s structure and utilities & systems after a hurricane.
- Take pictures of home damage, both of the buildings and its contents, for insurance purposes.
- Do not use electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water.
- Use a flashlight, do not use candles during a power outage due to extreme risk of fire.
- Stay out of any building that has water around it.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines. Report them immediately to the power company.
Cleaning and Repairing Your Home
- Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots, and be cautious when cleaning up.
- Learn more about how to clean up after a hurricane, including the supplies you’ll need, how to deal with contaminated food and water, and how to repair water damage.
Prevent Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning
- Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
- Keep these devices outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
- Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can’t be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY – DO NOT DELAY.
Client-Facing Preparedness and Safety Resources
On-site staff may make these materials available to clients, staff, volunteers and general public in language most appropriate.
- Download Free Bilingual Red Cross Emergency App (English , Spanish) features expert advice on how to prepare & respond to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other disasters and features real-time local alerts for severe weather and hazards and includes a map with local Red Cross shelters. Text GETEMERGENCY to 90999 or search “Red Cross Emergency” in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Promotional material available here.
- Be Red Cross Ready Checklist (1 page) (English) (Spanish)
- Emergency Planning for People with Disabilities, Access and Functional Needs – FEMA – Landing Page (English) FEMA Checklist (English, Spanish , English – Large Print), Preparing Makes Sense for People with Disabilities and Other Access and Functional Needs, PSA (5:00), We Prepare Everyday, PSA (2:00), We Prepare Everyday: Make a Plan, PSA (:30), We Prepare Everyday: Be Informed, PSA (:30), We Prepare Everyday: Build a Kit, PSA (:30)
o FEMA Video Hurricane basic preparedness tips on how to best prepare for a hurricane event in American Sign Language (ASL), May 2017 (Video in American Sign Language).
o Center for Disease Control: American Sign Language (ASL) hurricane preparedness and safety videos.
- Hurricane Safety Checklist (English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian, Korean, Tagalog, Urdu, Vietnamese) and Shortened Hurricane Safety Checklist (1 pg) (English and Spanish)
- Video – Are You Ready for a Hurricane? Red Cross & Weather Channel, 2015 (English)
- Flood Safety Checklist (1 pg) (English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian, Korean, Tagalog, Urdu, Vietnamese) and Shortened Flood Safety Checklist (1 pg) (English / Spanish)
- Landslide Safety Checklist (1 pg) (English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese)
- Tornado Safety Checklist (1 pg) (English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese) and Shortened Tornado Safety Checklist – (1 pg each) (English/Spanish)
- Power Outage Checklist (1 page each) (English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese)
- Safe Generator Use (English)
- Repairing Your Flooded Home (English)
- Protect Yourself from Mold After a Disaster – CDC (English & Spanish) 8 Tips to Clean up Mold Infographic (English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Tagalog, Vietnamese)
- Food and Water in an Emergency – Red Cross/FEMA booklet (English)
- FDA Factsheet – Food and Water Safety during Power Outages and Floods (4 pages) (English , Spanish)
- Taking Care of Your Emotional Health after Disaster – Landing Page (English, English – Large Print, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese)
- Children: Helping Children Cope with Disaster (12 pages) (English, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, Vietnamese)
- Download the free Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies App. Children between the ages or 7 to 11 learn ways to stay safe in home fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other disasters by role playing as different monster characters. Go to redcross.org/monsterguard or text ‘MONSTER’ to 90999 for a direct link to download the app. Children should ask a parent or guardian for permission to download the app. Promotional material available here.
- Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Media Tools: A variety of visuals to supplement media and social outreach efforts are available here.
- FEMA: Hurricane Seasonal Preparedness Digital Toolkit 2018
- FEMA: How to Prepare for a Hurricane
- National Weather Service: Hurricane Preparedness 2018 Toolkit