TOMS RIVER, N.J., AUGUST 16, 2010 – The 2010 Atlantic hurricane season began on June 1, and while things have been relatively quiet, weather experts are still predicting a busier-than-usual hurricane season.
Since the peak of hurricane season is late August through October, health and safety experts from Community and Kimball Medical Centers urge shore area residents to get prepared now; before a storm approaches.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts 14 to20 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher including eight to 12 hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher) of which four to six could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of at least 111 mph).
Neil J. Bryant, Regional Director of Safety Management for Community and Kimball said hurricane season lasts until November 30. “While the Jersey Shore hasn’t battled a major hurricane in a number of years, there is concern that area weather patterns are changing – setting the coastline up for the possibility of a major hurricane,” he explains.
In recent years, the surface temperature of the ocean has risen – a factor known to generate more powerful storms. That factor, combined with the area’s population growth, densely populated barrier islands and complacency on the part of area residents – who, in the past, have prepared for storms that never actually materialized – has health care safety expert Bryant speaking out.
“Whether we face a hurricane here at the Shore or not, the important thing to remember, is that we need to be prepared,” he says. That preparation, he explains, includes securing or stowing items outside your home before a storm hits (such as garbage cans or patio furniture) that could become dangerous projectiles. It should also include closing and securing shutters if you have them, or taping or boarding up windows to help prevent broken or shattered glass. In addition, he advises that residents have a full tank of gas in the car in the event it’s necessary to evacuate.
Inside your home, Bryant suggests keeping emergency supplies in one portable container that can travel with you should you need to evacuate your home. Having a well-stocked disaster supply kit can make the process of leaving quicker and less traumatic.
“The kit should include an ample supply of food – including items that don’t need to be refrigerated or cooked (such as canned foods, meal bars, etc.). It should include any medical supplies needed by family members on a regular basis, such as blood pressure medications, insulin or syringes.”
He also recommends that the kit include first aid supplies, waterproof matches, flashlights, a battery-powered television or radio as well as plenty of fresh batteries. The kit should also contain copies of your identification, credit information, as well as some cash and coins in case you have to evacuate.
“You should also stock a gallon of water for each person in your family per day, keeping enough on hand to last at least three to seven days,” says Bryant. “If you have pets, don’t forget to stock food and water for them,” he adds, “and have a pet carrier available as well.”
While local officials and disaster relief workers typically arrive quickly to offer help after a major hurricane, Hurricane Katrina made us realize that it is not always the case. “Depending on the scope of the disaster and how the community is impacted, first responders may not always be able to reach everyone right away. Help might arrive in hours, or it could take several days,” says Bryant.
“If you’re prepared and have what you need at home – including food, water, prescription medicines, and any basic sanitary and hygiene supplies you might need – you’ll be more comfortable, safe and secure as you ride out the storm. That said,” he adds, “regardless of how prepared you may be for a gathering storm, if local officials tell you to evacuate, go to a shelter or to a friend or relative’s home outside of the immediate area. Disregarding the call to evacuate not only puts your life in jeopardy, but the lives of first responders who may need to rescue you if the situation deteriorates.”
“Thankfully, we haven’t had a major hurricane in this area in years,” says Bryant, “but the reality is it can happen – and when it does, there’s no such thing as being too prepared.”
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