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Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness Guides

This Sunday marks the beginning of the 2003 hurricane season, and predictions are, it will be a busy one. The American Red Cross says the best defense against the storms is being prepared, and a new campaign is underway in the big bend.

Hurricane experts are predicting six to nine hurricanes this year, and two to four of them will be classified as major storms. The Red Cross wants to make sure you and your family are safe.

Andre Williams keeps his cabinets stocked with non-perishable items in an event of an emergency, and with hurricane season starting June 1, Williams says he's already taking precautionary measures.

"I like to have my house stock anyway for reasons just in case, I know it like to be prepared anyway," says Andre.

Williams is just one of those who's taken a proactive approach to survive deadly hurricanes. Meteorologists say too many people have become complacent and wait the last minute to prepare for the storms.

"The is the time to be prepared for the next major hurricane.You don't want to watch and wait for the next warnings are issued, then you're too late," says Paul Duval, a National Weather Service Meteorologist.

The Red Cross will be distributing the 2003 hurricane survival guides around the Big Bend area, and there are some important things to watch for.

"All the shelters in Leon County have been changed, and some shelters have been added in other areas so people really need to pay close attention to that," says Richard Smith, Emergency Management Director.

Approximately 168,000 survival guides will be distributed next week to citizens in and around the big bend area. Two day training sessions will include use of a model home on wheels to show people exactly what they need to do to survive this hurricane season and protect their homes and property.

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Hurricanes

Hurricanes are one of nature’s most powerful storms. Those in hurricane-prone areas need to be prepared for hurricanes and tropical storms. Even inland areas well away from the coastline can experience destructive winds, tornadoes and floods from tropical storms and hurricanes.

What is a Hurricane?

A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone – an organized rotating weather system that develops in the tropics. Tropical cyclones are classified as follows:

  • Tropical Depression: An organized system of persistent clouds and thunderstorms with a closed low-level circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.

  • Tropical Storm: An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a well defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34-63 knots).

  • Hurricane: An intense tropical weather system with a well defined circulation and sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher. In the western North Pacific, hurricanes are called typhoons and similar storms in the Indian Ocean are called cyclones.

What to Listen For

  • Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified area of the Watch, usually within 36 hours. During a Watch, prepare your home and review your plan for evacuation in case a Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning is issued.

  • Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area of the Warning, usually within 24 hours. Complete storm preparations and leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.

  • Short Term Watches and Warnings: These warnings provide detailed information on specific hurricane threats, such as floods and tornadoes.

  • Flood Watch: This product informs the public and cooperating agencies of possible flooding. If you are in a Watch are, check flood action plans, keep informed and be ready to act if a warning is issued or you see flooding.

  • Flood/Flash Flood Warning: A flood/flash flood Warning is issued for specific communities, streams or areas where flooding is imminent or in progress. Persons in the warning area should take precautions immediately.

Hurricane Safety Tips

Before the Storm: When in a Watch Area

  • Listen to the radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins of the storm’s progress.
  • Fuel and services family vehicles.
  • Inspect and secure mobile home tie downs.
  • Have extra cash on hand.
  • Prepare to cover all windows and doors with shutters or other shielding materials.
  • Check batteries and stock up on canned food, first-aid supplies, drinking water and medications.
  • Bring in light-weight objects such as garbage canes, garden tools, toys and lawn furniture.

Before the Storm: Plan to Leave If You …

  • Live in a mobile home. They are unsafe in high winds no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • Live on the coastline, an offshore island or near a river or flood plain.
  • Live in a high-rise building. Hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.

During the Storm: When in a Warning Area

  • Listen closely to the radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins.
  • Complete storm preparations, such as putting up storm shutters or storing loose objects.
  • Follow instructions issued by local officials. Leave immediately if told to do so.
  • Leave mobile homes.
  • Notify neighbors and a family member outside of the warned area of your evacuation plans.
  • Take pets with you. Leaving pets behind is likely to result in their being injured, lost or killed.
  • Stay away from windows and doors even if they are covered.
  • Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors.
  • Go to an interior room such as a bathroom or closet.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another study object.

    After the Storm

    • Listen to the radio, TV or NOAA Weather Radio.
    • Keep up-to-date on road conditions. Wait until an area is declared safe before entering.
    • Do not attempt to drive across flowing water.
    • Do not let children play in flooded areas.
    • Stay away from standing water. It may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
    • If someone needs to be rescued, call professionals with the right equipment to help.
    • Use tap water for drinking and cooking only when local officials say it is safe to do so.

    Source: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/brochures/hurr.pdf (National Weather Service Web site) contributed to this report.


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