Thursday, June 01, 2006

Weathering The Storm On Long Island

Hurricane Season 2006 Is Here. Be Prepared!

From the Nassau County Auxiliary Police:

Most of us who live on Long Island have never fully experienced the devastation of a hurricane. Even though we have experienced several occurrences of extremely severe weather, a hurricane of a class 3, 4 or 5 magnitude has never hit our community. The residents not only in our communities but towns throughout the United States start to experience a "false sense of security" during the hurricane season. "We have never been hit with a hurricane so it will never happen."

In order to prepare you and your family for a hurricane we have prepared this informational release. The only way you will reduce the loss of property and possibly life is to use this information and not file it away. Remember preparedness can not change the probability or course of a hurricane but if prepared it can greatly reduce the loss of life and property. The hurricane season begins in June and ends in November. August and September are considered the peak periods for hurricanes on Long Island. In order to be prepared for a hurricane or severe weather, the following information will be helpful in taking appropriate steps in protecting your family and property.

Hurricane Terms and Definitions

Tropical Depression: an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 mph (33 knots) or less.

Tropical Storm: an organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph (34-63 knots).

Hurricane: an intense tropical weather system with a well defined circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 mph (64 knots) or higher.

Storm Surge: a dome-like rise in the ocean level associated with a hurricane. Storm surge is the difference between this abnormal rise in sea level and the level that would normally occur.

Hurricane Categories

1 Minor; sustained winds of 74 – 95 mph; 4 – 5 ft surge
2 Moderate; sustained winds of 96 – 110 mph; 6 – 8 ft surge
3 Major; sustained winds of 111 – 130 mph; 9 – 12 ft surge
4 Severe; sustained winds of 131 – 155 mph; 13 – 18 ft surge
5 Catastrophic; sustained winds OVER 155 mph; Over 18 ft surge

Tracking a Hurricane

When a storm threatens your area, National Weather Service advisories are issued at six hour intervals - 12:00 am, 6:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 6:00 pm. These advisories are broadcast by the National Weather Service on weather radios on 162.55MHz. Inexpensive radios can be purchased at local retailers. These reports are numbered consecutively for each storm and describe the present position, projected movement and intensity. Updated bulletins are often issued between regular advisories. When you receive an advisory, note its number, the storm's position, intensity, and direction. Position will be given by latitude and longitude numbers. The storm is located as far west in latitude number given, and as far north as the longitude number given. Pay more attention to the direction the storm is moving and where it has been. Hurricanes can change course and direction quickly.

Are You Prepared?

Many things that we take for granted on a daily basis can and usually are rendered inoperative after a hurricane hits. Electricity, telephones, drinking water, air conditioning, life support equipment, cell phone, pagers can and have been rendered unusable after a hurricane. The loss of these services can last for as little as a few hours to several weeks. When a hurricane watch is issued (usually 24-36 hours in advance) you should prepare by taking the following steps.

Have a 5 day supply of batteries for a portable radio in order to receive emergency information as well as flashlights for each person in the house. Store drinking water in a clean bathtub, jugs, and bottles. One gallon of water per person per five days.

Have 2 coolers. One with food and one with ice.

Have a two week supply of prescription medication.

Have extra cash on hand. A full first aid kit and a working fire extinguisher. Infant supplies, formula, medicine, diapers, etc. A non electrical can opener, toilet paper, paper towels, towelettes.

Turn the refrigerator and freezer to its highest setting. Have a ten day supply of nonperishable food.

Make sure your car has a full tank of gas.

Board up windows or protect them with tape. Tape may not prevent a window from breaking but it will prevent pieces from flying.

Secure outdoor objects that might blow away. This includes garbage cans, outdoor furniture and grills. Store propane tanks which are used for barbecuing in a secure location outside your house. The risk of fire is too great if they go inside.

Make arrangements for the elderly and others who depend on life support equipment. Pets are not allowed in public shelters. Develop an emergency communication plan for keeping in contact. This is especially important for parents whose children could be in school. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact."

If you have a basement, lift things as high off the floor as possible to reduce damage in case of flooding.

Automobiles should be stored in your garage away from falling limbs and flying debris, but remember that with the possible loss of electricity you may not be able to open your garage door if it is operated by an electric door opener. Many electric openers have manual releases.

If you are operating a portable generator, DO NOT do so it in a confined space like your garage or in your home where there is improper ventilation.

DO NOT store fuel in your home. When a hurricane warning is issued (usually 24 hours in advance) all preparations should have already been completed.

During and After the Storm

Do not use telephones unless you have an emergency.

Avoid all downed utility lines. Assume all lines have live electricity.

Do not sight-see.

Stay out of disaster areas. Your presence could interfere with emergency operations. Only trained essential personnel (police, auxiliary police, firefighters, Red Cross, and utilities personnel) should be in the effected area.

Do not drive unless you absolutely must. Many roads may have become impassable, and you could become stranded.

Monitor local radio and television broadcasts for updated emergency instructions. Please remember that during a disaster all emergency service agencies are out throughout the community protecting life and property. Depending on the severity of your request you may not see an immediate response. All requests are prioritized based on severity.

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