Now that we’re in the full swing of hot summer days, frequent severe weather and hurricane season, it is important to be aware of the difference between a “watch” and a “warning” issued by the National Weather Service.
It is critical to be able to tell the difference between these states of alert when severe weather strikes, especially when alerts do not often prompt immediate action. According to the Senior Meteorologist at AccuWeather.com, Mike Pigott,
“Watches, like severe thunderstorm watches and tornado watches, which are two of the most common types, are issued when weather conditions are conducive for the event to occur.”
A hurricane “watch” aims to alert you that weather conditions are favorable for the event to occur. This means that, though it is not an immediate threat, you should be aware of the weather in your area for the next few days. While meteorologists attempt to predict oncoming weather, they are far from precise, because weather can change in an instant.
Hurricane warnings, on the other hand, aim to alert people of an imminent weather event that people within a specific area will be directly affected by. What do I mean by this? When you see a hurricane “warning” treat it like a fly ball in baseball – it’s coming and we have a general idea of where it is going to land. What do you do when you hear “heads up!”? You run for cover! This is the same attitude to adopt when a hurricane warning is issued. So what’s next?
Check your supply levels:
I’ve previously touched on what to do before the storm, during the storm, and after the storm – it’s always better to over prepare than under prepare.
Before the Storm
- Review your emergency kit and family communications plan (FEMA offers advice on both topics).
- Know your surroundings, including the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
- Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
- Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
- Make plans to secure your property.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters if you have them. Another option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors: this includes outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
- Cover all of your home’s windows.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
- If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
During the Storm
- Listen to the radio or TV for information.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
- Remember to keep food safe during and after and emergency (FEMA offers advice on this).
- If you are directed by local authorities to evacuate, be sure to follow their instructions.
If you are unable to evacuate, follow these guidelines:
- Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
- Avoid elevators.
Power outages are common at the height of hurricanes as they pass through, but FrontPoint customers can rest easy knowing that their Control Panel has a 24 hour battery backup – for extended peace of mind. In addition, our water/flood sensors, wireless security cameras and cellular monitoring all increase your safety as the storm blows through.