With tropical storm Erika motoring toward the southeastern United States, hurricane season is clearly under way and people who live in the paths of these dangerous storms need to be prepared.
On Friday, Florida Gov. Rick Scotta declared a state of emergency, as Erika is expected to hit that state by Monday. The soaker of a storm has already left 12 dead as it crosses the Caribbean.
To be prepared, families living in the paths of tropical storms and hurricanes should have an emergency communication plan that specifies out-of-state relatives or friends as primary contacts, according to Marcus Robinson, director of safety and chief fire official at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Robinson also noted that landlines and cellphones are often knocked out during hurricanes, so families should arrange a local point of contact in case they get separated. Social media is another way to keep in touch with loved ones.
Be sure your home and contents are insured and photograph all expensive personal items. Keep paper documents in portable plastic storage containers that are easy to transport if there is an evacuation order, he advised.
If evacuation is ordered, leave as soon as possible to reduce the risk of encountering heavy traffic, flooded roads or washed-out bridges. You should have an evacuation kit and protective clothing ready to go, Robinson said.
During a hurricane, remain indoors in an interior room away from windows. Do not go outside when the eye of the storm passes overhead and everything is calm. The second half of the storm will soon follow, Robinson said.
There are also many potential dangers after a hurricane, such as fires and carbon monoxide leaks. If you use a generator, follow all instructions and guidelines and use the correct size and type of power cord, Robinson said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about hurricane readiness.