June 1st was the official start of the Hurricane Season for the Atlantic Ocean. While many forecasters predict a below-average 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, all you need is just one hurricane to ruin your day (or ruin your life).
For us in the Boston area, it appears that the Northeast will be spared most of Arthur's effects. See http://www.weather.gov/ for the latest, official forecast.
So what can the average citizen do to prepare for this storm or the next one?
In today's social media, TV-everywhere society, it still shocks me to see people surprised by weather, especially tropical storms and hurricanes.
- Weather apps: If you have a smartphone or tablet, download a weather app - I use WeatherBug & AccuWeather - but they are all good. Then check the app daily.
- Weather sites: If you don't have a smartphone or tablet, bookmark a good weather site such as http://www.weather.com/ or a local news website (here's Boston's list) and check the site at least daily.
- Social media: Many states' emergency management agencies have Facebook and Twitter accounts plus official social alert systems. Below are Massachusetts' channels:
- Get Emergency Information on Your Cellphone via Ping4alerts! & WEAs
Additionally, many towns also have fire and police social channels. Either search your favorite social media app for your town's account or check your town's website for its channels.
This all may sound like overkill, but being informed and alert is your first line of defense in these types of events.
Now I'm not saying we should all go out and become Doomsday Preppers, but all families should have a plan, loose or written down, for weather emergencies. Having a plan will give you a much greater sense of confidence going into a weather event and greatly improve the outcome should you experience an actual weather emergency.
- For my friends in Massachusetts, visit MEMA's "Ready Massachusetts" site - an excellent source of information and plan outlines. For other states, entering "<your state here> emergency management" in any search engine will get you to the correct local resources.
- FEMA also has an excellent Family Emergency Plan that can be downloaded and filled out.
And being prepared doesn't mean going into overkill mode, it just means carefully thinking about what you should do before, during and after an event.
Being informed and prepared will then allow you to respond to a weather event in a timely manner.
Some tasks you should do earlier rather than later:
- Secure outdoor furniture and loose items to prevent additional wind damage.
- Fill your car's gas tank.
- Shop for food and essentials. (In a perfect world, we'd all have enough canned food and water on hand to not have to do last minute shopping...)
- Determine if you are going to "shelter in place" or leave the area.
Once again, your actions should be part of your family's overall plan.
Well, I have to go and start securing my yard in advance of Arthur. For those on the east coast, I hope this storm doesn't ruin your holiday week and more importantly, I hope and pray for a very uneventful 2014 hurricane season.