The Southern region of the United States is the widest-sweeping, encompassing Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, and Oklahoma. According to the Red Cross, residents in the South are most susceptible to tornadoes, hurricanes, landslides, and earthquakes.
As is the case with all weather emergencies, you’ll want to begin gathering supplies to create an emergency preparedness kit. Keep essentials on hand year round like water, non-perishable foods, and a first-aid kit. Weather emergencies also always come with the risk of a power outage. Think about the last time you lost power, and decide if your household could benefit from a backup battery power source. The HomePower ONE is compatible with a wide range of household appliances, like the refrigerator and lighting, and can charge your electronic devices to keep you in communication with family and the community.
Here are some more tips to help you prepare for each type of weather event that can hit your area.
Hurricanes are more than just a rain storm; by combining storm surges, wind damage, and flooding, hurricanes can be extremely dangerous. Hurricanes are rated by their intensity of sustained winds. The 1-5 scale estimates the potential for the storm to cause damage to property. Every major hurricane receives a name in alphabetical order, with 2020 breaking records for the most Atlantic hurricanes in history, quickly making its way through the English and Greek alphabets. As of November 30, the final day of hurricane season, 12 storms had made landfall in the US. With hurricane seasons only intensifying each year, it is best to stay prepared before the storm is even called, giving you plenty of time to evacuate or secure your home.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic is June 1 - November 30. Begin your preparation by assessing the risk a hurricane poses to your home and community. Evaluate what on your property could cause damage and remove risks like dead trees and be sure to have plenty of room inside to store lightweight yard furniture that could blow around in the wind. Learn the best routes of evacuation and practice them now, so you’ll be confident when the time comes to actually need to drive them.
The United States experiences more than 1000 tornadoes each year. Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can happen at any time, and anywhere, destroying buildings, flipping cars, and creating flying debris that can severely injure or kill. Tornadoes are known for their typical funnel shape and bring intense winds over 200 mph. While you should always pay attention to local weather forecasts in case a tornado is predicted, it is also helpful to know and understand the warning signs yourself. Some prominent signs of a tornado include a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud, an approaching cloud of debris, or a loud roar similar to a freight train.
Educate yourself on how your county or community warns residents about tornadoes. Most tornado-prone areas utilize a siren system for both tornado watches and warnings. A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions favor the formation of a tornado, like during a severe thunderstorm. During a tornado watch you should pay special attention to local news stations and be prepared to take shelter at a moment’s notice. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel has actually been sighted or indicated by weather radar. In this case, you need to immediately take shelter.
Since tornadoes are so commonly accompanied by thunderstorms, begin to pay close attention to changing weather conditions during a storm. A severe thunderstorm watch means a severe thunderstorm is possible in your area, while a warning means one is currently occurring.
Although often chalked up to being a normal weather event or any day occurrence, thunderstorms can be just as dangerous as any other weather event. Even when a storm is not categorized as a hurricane, you can still experience complications like fallen trees, live wires, and power outages. In fact, lightning is a leading cause of injury and possibly death from weather-related events.
Lightning strikes and rumbling thunder may often start well before rain hits your area, oftentimes 30 minutes. You may also experience winds of up to 50 miles per hour, flash flooding, hail, and tornadoes. Find out if your area has an emergency alert system that will let you know when a storm is coming and weather conditions being reported nearby. The most common cause of injury during a storm is someone ignoring or never hearing the weather alerts. If a storm is coming, clear hazards from your yard and find safe shelter.
Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia are most prone to experiencing a landslide. Landslides occur when masses of rock, earth, or debris move down a slope. A common type of fast-moving landslides are mudslides, or debris flows, that tend to flow in channels. These can flow at avalanche speeds, meaning you cannot out-run them.They also can travel many miles from their source, growing in size as they pick up trees, boulders, cars and other materials.
A landslide is most deadly when it occurs quickly without any notice. Each year, landslides are responsible for 25-50 deaths and billions of dollars in damage.To avoid being caught off guard, sign up for local emergency notifications that will alert you of unusual weather conditions or provide evacuation and shelter warnings. It is important to take action immediately following an evacuation notice, as every minute allows the landslide time to become faster and more dangerous.
Consult a geotechnical professional if you’re worried your home or business may be in a path of or improperly prepared for a landslide or mudslide.Since you cannot change the path once a debris flow has started, you may be able to protect your property from mud or floodwaters with sandbags, retaining walls, or k-rails.
If you live in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, or Missouri, you’re more likely to experience an earthquake. An earthquake is a sudden, rapid shaking of the ground caused by the shifting of rocks deep underneath the earth’s surface. The National Earthquake Information Center locates about 12,000-14,000 earthquakes each year, with magnitude 2 and smaller earthquakes occurring several hundred times a day world wide. Major earthquakes, greater than magnitude 7, happen more than once per month.
Assess the structural soundness of your home and consider making improvements sooner rather than later. Similarly, identify any objects inside your home that could become a hazard, like heavy bookshelves or glass objects, and secure them. Next, evaluate which room of your house would be safest to shelter in, or the safest part of each room of your home. The safest area of your home would be away from glass, hanging objects, heavy cabinets, and other large furniture. A room without ceiling light fixtures like chandeliers and exposed shelving is also safest. Contrary to popular belief, do not stand in doorways. If driving, pull over and set your emergency parking brake.
If you’re living in the South, begin educating yourself about the effects of hurricanes, tornadoes, landslides, earthquakes, and thunderstorms on your community. Begin preparing an emergency supply kit, identify potential hazards in or around your home, and learn evacuation routes and places of shelter. Practice all safety plans with your whole household so you’re all prepared, no matter when you’re affected. Since power outages are common with these types of weather events, consider purchasing an emergency generator like the HomePower ONE or SolarPower ONE.
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