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Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm

JOSEPH R. OSBORN
U.S. Army North, Safety Office
Fort Sam Houston, Texas

June is an important month for many of us. If you have kids, they’ll be sure you know school will be out soon and it’s time for vacation plans to be put into action. Summer is also a popular time to get married, and many couples make plans to wed in June. Military families often plan for leave to visit relatives, spend days at the local amusement park or swimming pool or possibly a drive to the beach.

June is also the beginning of hurricane season. Have you made plans for that too?

There is a story from the 1930s of a New England family who ordered a barometer through a mail order catalogue. After driving a long distance to pick up the mail and returning home, they opened the package to find the barometer’s needle pegged at the far end, indicating a hurricane. They thought it was broken. There was no Internet or Weather Channel for them to check. They got back into the car and departed for the long drive to return the order by post. While away, their home was destroyed by a hurricane.

Whether the story is true or just a bit of meteorological folklore, it serves as a reminder of the importance of awareness, planning and preparing for the possibility of something as serious as a hurricane. There have been several major hurricanes over the last few years with many lives lost and countless homes destroyed. Do you remember Andrew, Hugo, Katrina, Rita and Sandy? Maybe there is another that stands out in your mind.

Not worried because you don’t live near the coast? You still might be affected by severe storms that can spin off a hurricane as it races ashore and continues inland. For example, Hurricane Ike was responsible for numerous storm-related deaths in several states as it continued on its deadly path through mid-America. Just because you don’t live near the coast doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan or be prepared for the next big hurricane.

Tornadoes, high winds, heavy rains and lightning are all components of a hurricane that can spread several hundred miles inland from the initial impact area. Based on the size of the storm, its strength and the path it travels, these elements can wreak havoc on communities far from the ocean.

You can’t always predict when disaster will strike, so being well prepared is your first line of defense. Make a plan and get your family involved as you think about what to do and where to go. Let someone outside your area know your plan. Get supplies such as water, food, matches, candles, batteries, a good flashlight, blankets or sleeping bags, towels and a first-aid kit, just to name a few.

There are planning tools, such as checklists and storm trackers, which take the guesswork out of preparing for the unpleasant and life-threatening possibility of a hurricane. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration websites all contain sections dedicated to hurricane preparedness and response. These great resources can help ensure you are well prepared for the next big storm. Also, don’t forget local resources.

Unfortunately, the danger isn’t over once the sky clears. The aftermath of a hurricane presents hazards as well. Spoiled food and unsafe water, unstable buildings, downed power lines and carbon monoxide poisoning from generators and camp stoves are just a few post-storm concerns. Take the time to learn about hurricane recovery so you and your family can return home safely and prevent injury or illness during the clean-up period.

The 1930s family may not have understood their barometer, and they didn’t have the benefit of the Internet or clear warnings provided by the media to ensure awareness, evacuation and survival. We do. There is no excuse for not preparing your family and home.

  • 1 June 2015
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 10188
  • Comments: 0
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