What is Emergency Preparedness?
Emergency preparedness is the preparation and planning necessary to effectively handle an emergency. It involves individuals developing an emergency plan that identifies services they require, and what resources they need to have on hand in case of an emergency. Emergency plans should be written and given to loved ones, care givers and other relevant parties.
When it comes to emergency planning, you know yourself and your needs the best, so you are the ideal person to create your personalized emergency preparedness plan. People who cannot independently create an emergency preparedness plan will need assistance from caregivers and others who support them.
When creating your personal preparedness plan, it is important to identify the following:
A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, the generic term for a low pressure system that generally forms in the tropics. A typical cyclone is accompanied by thunderstorms, and in the Northern Hemisphere, a counterclockwise circulation of winds near the earth’s surface.
All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes or tropical storms. Parts of the Southwest United States and the Pacific Coast experience heavy rains and floods each year from hurricanes spawned off Mexico. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October.
Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Winds can exceed 155 miles per hour. Hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes and microbursts, create storm surges along the coast, and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.
Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on their wind speed, central pressure, and damage potential (see chart). Category Three and higher hurricanes are considered major hurricanes, though Categories One and Two are still extremely dangerous and warrant your full attention.
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
|Scale Number |
|Sustained Winds |
|1||74-95||Minimal: Unanchored mobile homes, |
vegetation and signs.
|2||96-110||Moderate: All mobile homes, roofs, |
small crafts, flooding.
|3||111-130||Extensive: Small buildings, low-lying |
roads cut off.
|4||131-155||Extreme: Roofs destroyed, trees |
down, roads cut off, mobile homes
destroyed. Beach homes flooded.
|5||More than 155||Catastrophic: Most buildings |
destroyed. Vegetation destroyed.
Major roads cut off. Homes flooded.
|Greater than 18 feet|
Hurricanes can produce widespread torrential rains. Floods are the deadly and destructive result. Slow moving storms and tropical storms moving into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain. Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides, especially in mountainous regions. Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall. Flooding on rivers and streams may persist for several days or more after the storm.
Between 1970 and 1999, more people lost their lives from freshwater inland flooding associated with land falling tropical cyclones than from any other weather hazard related to tropical cyclones.
Naming the Hurricanes
Since 1953, Atlantic tropical storms have been named from lists originated by the National Hurricane Center and now maintained and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. The lists featured only women’s names until 1979. After that, men’s and women’s names were alternated. Six lists are used in rotation. Thus, the 2001 lists will be used again in 2007.
The only time there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the continued use of the name would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. When this occurs, the name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it.
Sometimes names are changed. Lorenzo replaced Luis and Michelle replaced Marilyn. The complete lists can be found at www.nhc.noaa.gov under “Storm Names.”
Know the Terms
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a hurricane hazard:
Tropical Depression: An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 MPH (33 knots) or less. Sustained winds are defined as one-minute average wind measured at about 33 ft (10 meters) above the surface.
Tropical Storm: An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39–73 MPH (34–63 knots).
Hurricane: An intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 MPH (64 knots) or higher.
Storm Surge: A dome of water pushed onshore by hurricane and tropical storm winds. Storm surges can reach 25 feet high and be 50–1000 miles wide.
Storm Tide: A combination of storm surge and the normal tide (i.e., a 15-foot storm surge combined with a 2-foot normal high tide over the mean sea level created a 17-foot storm tide).
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified area, usually within 36 hours. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning: Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area, usually within 24 hours.
Short Term Watches and Warnings: These warnings provide detailed information about specific hurricane threats, such as flash floods and tornadoes.
Before a Hurricane
To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:
During a Hurricane
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
You should evacuate under the following conditions:
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
After a Hurricane
Follow the instructions for recovering from a disaster in Part 5.
You make the call
Read the following and respond to the question below.
Your neighbor said that in the event a hurricane threatens, the household would get ready by closing the windows and doors on the storm side of the house and opening the ones on the side away from the wind. They also will tape the windows to prevent damage to the glass.
Is this a good idea?
This information is taken off the FEMA.gov site. Click below to take you to the site:
Following is a Hurricane preparedness kit, information provided by the National Hurricane Center. Click on link below to visit their site:
Water - at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days
Food - at least enough for 3 to 7 days
— non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices
— foods for infants or the elderly
— snack foods
— non-electric can opener
— cooking tools / fuel
— paper plates / plastic utensils
Blankets / Pillows, etc.
Clothing - seasonal / rain gear/ sturdy shoes
First Aid Kit / Medicines / Prescription Drugs
Special Items - for babies and the elderly
Toiletries / Hygiene items / Moisture wipes
Flashlight / Batteries
Radio - Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
Telephones - Fully charged cell phone with extra battery and a traditional (not cordless) telephone set
Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards - Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
Toys, Books and Games
Important documents - in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag
— insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.
Tools - keep a set with you during the storm
Vehicle fuel tanks filled
Pet care items
— proper identification / immunization records / medications
— ample supply of food and water
— a carrier or cage
Make a Family Disaster Plan:Meet with your loved ones and create a Family Disaster Plan - which includes a Family Communications Plan and a Family Evacuation Plan. Outline responsibilities for each member. When you do, remember to:
Information provided by American Red Cross, Nassau & Suffolk Chapters
- Plan ahead for the possibility of becoming separated from your family and friends.
- Designate an individual outside the potentially affected area that each family or household member will call or e-mail to check in with should a hurricane occur. Your selected contact should live far enough away that they would be unlikely to be directly affected by the same event, and they must know they are the chosen contact.
- Know that phone lines (and e-mail) may be out of service or overloaded after a disaster, so it's often easier to call out of the area. You may also have to be patient and try again later.
- Make sure this person has all family emergency phone numbers and contacts.
- Make sure all of your loved ones have the contacts' phone number as well as each others' phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Loved ones should agree to call the out-of-town contact to report their whereabouts and welfare. Consider having a laminated wallet-sized card made to carry with you at all times. For more information about contact cards, visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare/ECCard.pdf
- Practice the communication plan and update as necessary.
- Use the American Red Cross "Safe and Well" Web site, available at www.redcross.org, as a secure, free location to post messages to loved ones worried about your well-being.
- Have all family members stay in contact with the designated individual if you are evacuated to let them know their whereabouts and well-being.
The more you know before, during and after a hurricane, the better off your family may be. So:
- Listen to local officials. If local authorities tell you to evacuate or remain at home, it is vital to your safety that you follow their guidance.
- Know potential evacuation routes - and alternates. Keep a map in your car - and in your kit - at all times.
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, watch TV or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available. While local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information, they'll get it out to the media as soon as they can.
- Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after the hurricane and after flood waters recede, roads may be weakened and could collapse. Buildings may be unstable, and drinking water may be contaminated. Use common sense and exercise caution.
Stay Tuned to Local Weather and News
Long Island News
TV 12 TW
Long Island Traffic & Weather
The Weather Channel
Radio: Nassau County
Radio: Suffolk County
Nassau County Red Cross
Nassau Organization on Disability
Suffolk County Red Cross
Health and Welfare Council of LI
Federal Emergency Management Agency
New York State Emergency Management
National Hurricane Center
Good Links to have