Hurricanes

Winds that may be hazardous are classified not by the speed of a movement of the air masses but by their nature and the extent of the damage they may cause. In Poland, the most common are: violent winds and storms. Generally, hurricanes don’t occur in Poland. A violent storm blows at 117 km/h, tearing trees with their roots, breaking roofs and poles and causing an extensive damage.

Hurricanes are a strong wind phenomenon with an average speed above 118 km/h (at least 12° on the Beaufort scale). The strength of hurricanes is being measured with a Safire-Simpson scale, where 5 is an extreme intensity phenomenon. They form over warm ocean waters and approach land. Potential hurricane hazards include strong winds, heavy rain, storms, coastal and inland floods, strong currents, tornadoes and landslides. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, while in the Pacific Ocean it happens from May 15 to November 30. A hurricane is a name used for phenomena occurring over the Atlantic Ocean, while a typhoon is being used for storms over the Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean.

A storm surge

A storm wave is an oceanic water that has been pushed towards shore by the force of wind spinning around the hurricane. A storm is rapid and may cause an extreme coastal and inland flooding. Hurricanes cause violent storms, what result in a flood wave over 7 meters high. The wave is being pushed towards the shore, invading the land for several kilometres, destroying everything in its path and endangering people’s lives.

You need to know

• The storm wave is historically the main cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States of America
• The water weighs about 800 kg / per cubic meter. Tidal storm waves may easily destroy buildings and cause massive damage along the coast
• A storm hit destroys roads and foundations as the wave washes away their material

Before

• Familiarize with the risk of hurricanes in your area
• Beware of warning signs, such as heavy rain, if there’s a risk of flooding
• Create your own or Family’s evacuation and communication plans, establish a safe place to stay
• If possible, send children and elderly to a safe place, e.g. family or friends
• Get familiar with the evacuation routes in your surrounding
• Collect the necessary supplies for at least 3 days in an evacuation backpack. Remember the specific needs of each person, including medications. Don’t forget animals’ needs
• Keep your evacuation backpack in an easily accessible place
• Keep important documents in a safe place or make digital copies protected by the password
• Protect your property. Secure the lower parts of the house against water, prepare sandbags, remove vehicles from the property, relocate them
• Remove all toxic substances such as pesticides and insecticides from the immediate vicinity
• If you have animals, find a safe place for them. Remember that when a hurricane comes, they shouldn’t be tied up and should be able save themselves if necessary. Preferably: let them evacuate preventively

36 hours before the hurricane’s arrival:

• Turn on TV or a radio to receive the latest weather information and emergency instructions
• Complete an emergency preparedness kit. Make sure you have enough food, water, medicines, flashlight, batteries, cash and first aid supplies for at least 3 days
• Design your Family communication plan. You might use it when there’s no electricity. Furthermore, phone calls, text and email messages or social medias may be used as well. Remember that texting during disasters is usually more reliable and fast than making phone calls because the phone lines are often being overloaded
• Ensure that your family members are familiar with evacuation routes and shelter’s locations. You may have to leave quickly – plan ahead
• Keep your car in good condition and the fuel tank fully. Provide your vehicle with fully equipped emergency backpacks for each family member

18 – 36 hours before the hurricane’s arrival:

• Monitor the movement of the hurricane and listen to the services’ announcements
• Bring lightweight items that can fly away in a strong wind (e.g. garden furniture, garbage bins). Lock up objects that you cannot bring in, cut or remove trees nearby the building so that they don’t fall on it
• Cover all windows. Fixed blinds provide the best protection for your windows. On the other hand, you may cover the windows with board or plywood, cut to appropriate size and ready to install

6 – 18 hours before the hurricane’s arrival:
• Turn the TV or a radio on, or check the city’s website every 30 minutes for the latest weather information and emergency instructions
• Charge your mobile phone to have a full battery in case of power grid failure

6 hours before the hurricane’s arrival:

• If your area hasn’t been recommended for evacuation, stay at home and notify friends and family where you are
• Close the blinds and stay away from windows. Broken glass may hurt you
• Set your fridge or freezer to the strongest refrigeration level and open it only if necessary. In case of power loss, the food will be eatable for a longer period of time

During

• Determine the way to protect yourself from hurricane and storm surge:
o Evacuate if you have been asked to
o Stay in a specially designated area
• Follow the latest threat and alert announcements
• In case of being trapped in a building by a flood, go to the top level of the building. Don’t enter an attic as you might be trapped by rising floodwater
• Use the generators outside, away from the windows
• Don’t walk, swim or pass through the flood water
• Avoid bridges over fast moving water

After

• Obey the authorities. Acquire information and special messages
• Clean up carefully. Wear protective clothing and don’t work alone
• Don’t touch electrical appliances if they’re wet or stand in the water. Turn off the main switch or fuse box to prevent an electric shock
• Avoid wading in floodwater, which may contain dangerous contaminants. Underground or broken power lines may charge water electrically
• Avoid making a call as if it’s not an emergency. After a catastrophe, telephone systems are often overloaded. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends
• Document a damage to your property. Contact your insurance company for assistance

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