9 Ways to Prepare for a Hurricane

Leslie Chapman-Henderson is the President and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), a non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting protection of lives and property during natural and man-made disasters.

She says, “The more you can prepare prior to a hurricane, the greater your chances are to safely shelter and recover. Taking steps to strengthen your home and preparing your family to evacuate if you live in an evacuation zone will help reduce risk of injury to you and your family, and damage to your home.”

Here are 9 ways to prepare for a hurricane: 

1. Protect doors and windows. Use “approved hurricane shutters or board up with properly installed emergency plywood shutters,” says Chapman-Henderson.

2. Stock up on sandbags in flood zonesSandbags can be useful, says Chapman-Henderson, to reduce water damage to homes and businesses. You can get sandbags in larger quantities for your home or business nationally from Sand Bags To Go.

3. Prepare for different scenarios. You might remain in your home after a disaster or evacuate to a safer location. “Families should pay close attention to and heed evacuation orders from local officials to determine if they can safely stay in their homes or need to go to a safer location,” Chapman-Henderson said. You can better prepare for either scenario by assembling a disaster supply kit that includes three to seven days worth of food and water per family member, cash as ATMs may not be open for many days, a manual can opener, extra required medication, a battery powered radio, First Aid kit, supplies for any pets and flashlights with extra batteries. Replace the water and food supplies every six-months.

4. Protect important documents. Store important family documents, including medical records, insurance papers, social security cards, deeds or mortgages, birth certificates and marriage certificates in a fire and water proof container, says Chapman-Henderson. She also suggests families can scan and keep electronic copies of important documents on a USB drive or as photos on a smartphone.

5. Know your zone. Dennis Feltgen is the Public Affairs Officer and a Meteorologist with NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. He says there are common mistakes to avoid when a hurricane warning is issued including “not knowing if you are located in an evacuation zone and not having a plan on where to go if you are in an evacuation zone.”

6. Get supplies before the hurricane hits. Don’t make the mistake says Feltgen, of searching for the supplies you’ll need once an evacuation order is given, otherwise “you must stand in long lines to get supplies that were readily available weeks ago—and may be gone now.”

7. Involve the whole family in the hurricane plan. Feltgen says, “The creation of a family hurricane plan should involve the entire family. Each member of the family should have a specific assignment in the creation and execution of the plan. For instance, one child could make sure there are batteries for the electronics, another would be in charge of bringing in the small outside furniture. By making it a family plan, the anxiety level is reduced.” Be sure to check FEMA’s website.

8. Don’t forget about pets. Feltgen says plan ahead and have several options for where not only you will go, but also your pets.

9. Practice caution after the hurricane is over. Remember, says Leslie Chapman-Henderson, that danger is still present even after the hurricane is over. She says avoid driving as roads may be blocked and watch for downed power lines. If your home has sustained damage, consider having it inspected by a professional before returning to it including checking that gas lines are not leaking, plumbing is working properly and there are no hazards from damaged trees or unwanted “guests” including rodents, snakes and insects that were blown or washed in by the storm.

Written by Kathleen Miller (source)

Visit flash.org for more information

FLASH Unveils New Smartphone APP



FLASH Unveils New Mitigation and Preparedness Smartphone App at 2013 National Hurricane Conference

App provides peril-based mitigation and preparedness tools and weather forecasting functions with the added value of NOAA weather radio technology.

As the National Hurricane Conference kicks off in New Orleans today; FLASH released “FLASH Weather Alerts” the first-ever precision, severe weather alert smartphone app that includes home mitigation and family preparedness information, videos and consumer support in English and Spanish.  The app combines bilingual preparedness and mitigation content with the powerful performance of a GPS, precision text – to – speech severe weather warnings.  Users can choose only one, or up to 100 alert options from flood, hurricane and tornado to wildfire and more.

Weather Features of FLASH Weather Alerts:

  • Local weather forecasts for seven days including hourly updates with temperature, precipitation and humidity
  • Severe weather alerts for up to six saved locations in the United States
  • Location-based alerting using smartphone GPS and local cellular towers to pinpoint locations making alerts more precise, reducing false alerts
  • Built in radar maps with animation, watch/warning boxes and hurricane cone of probability provide additional information for alerted users
  • Exclusive live video streaming from the National Hurricane Center and local television affiliates (where available) providing connectivity if cable, satellite or local TV is unavailable.
  • Devices automatically wake up when alerts are issued and text to speech feature speaks the alert to the user (preserves safety while driving)
  • Customizable alerts with more than 100 severe weather hazards including:
    • Floods and flash flood
    • Hurricane watches and warnings
    • Lightning (coming soon)
    • Marine advisories
    • Severe thunderstorm
    • Tornado
    • Wildfires
    • Winter weather alerts and more

Mitigation and Preparedness Features of FLASH Weather Alerts:

  • Mitigation resources put information to make homes stronger and families safer in the palm of the user’s hand – in English and Spanish
  • Follow disaster safety discussions on FLASH Facebook and Twitter
  • “Current News” feed provides event-driven preparedness/mitigation tips as severe events unfold
  • Season-specific mitigation/preparedness information reaches users when they need it most

All app features are included in the one-time price of $7.99 and will not require any additional in app purchases.  FLASH Weather Alerts is now available from the Apple AppStore and Google Play store for a reduced cost of $4.99 through Friday, March 29, 2013.

For more information visit  www.flashweatheralerts.org.

Hurricane Andrew: Twenty Years, Twenty Stories

August 24 marks the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew. Andrew’s devastation was undeniably profound as was its effect on the lives of everyone in its path. To mark the anniversary, FLASH team members, partners and friends will post personal recollections of Hurricane Andrew that will recall how the storm not only changed our lives, but shaped the modern disaster safety movement.

Read about “where they were” when the devastating Category 5 hurricane hit South Florida on August 24,1992, killing 65, causing $26.5 billion in U.S. damages and destroying 25,524 homes. Among those sharing their memories will be former Director of the National Hurricane Center; Bill Read, David Halstead, former Deputy Director, Florida Division of Emergency Management; Bryan Norcross, hurricane specialist, The Weather Channel; and FLASH team members Leslie Chapman-Henderson, Bruce McCullen, Tim Smail, Zoe Boyer, Barbara Harrison and Trenise Lyons.

Our hope is that you learn a bit more about FLASH, the movement, and why we are inspired do what we do. The stories will continue through the 20-year anniversary on August 24 and beyond so it is not too late to submit your story to us at flash@flash.org for publication. Also, we encourage you to add your thoughts in the comments section.

Debunking the Five Most Dangerous Hurricane Preparedness Myths

As 2011 hurricane season peaks with the passing of Hurricane Irene and the looming threat of Tropical Storm Katia, FLASH is stepping up its efforts to stamp out the top five most dangerous hurricane preparedness myths.

MYTH #1:  Masking tape, duct tape or window film prevents damage and protects families.

FACT:  Placing tape on glass is a waste of time.  Masking tape does not protect windows from wind-borne debris.  Some believe tape or film may help keep broken glass shards from dispersing.  This is wrong.  When high winds or projectiles hit windows, masking tape can and has caused large, taped segments of glass to blow into homes causing injury to those in the path.  Also, taping windows wastes precious time that could be used for more effective storm preparations, never mind how much of a mess tape is to clean up.  To provide effective protection, all windows and openings such as entry doors, garage doors, and gable end vents should be covered with tested and approved panels or shutters, or be built of impact-resistant materials.  Homes without permanent hurricane protection can be adequately protected on a temporary basis with properly placed 5/8” plywood in an emergency.

MYTH #2:  Light candles if power goes out.

FACT:  NEVER use candles or gas or oil lanterns during a storm; they increase risk of fire or ignition of damaged, leaking gas lines.  If a fire starts in your home during the storm, firefighters may not be able to respond.  Use only flashlights or battery-powered lanterns and canned heat.  Never use a barbecue grill indoors.

MYTH #3:  Crack or open windows to allow wind pressure inside the house thus equalizing the pressure outside and preventing damage.

FACT:  Opening windows simply allows the wind, debris and rain to enter the home.  It’s a myth that has perpetuated because of the way buildings appear to fail in high winds. Today, experts and wind scientists agree that the most important thing to do is keep all windows and doors closed to prevent wind from entering and causing internal pressurization.

MYTH #4:  Protect only windows and doors facing the ocean.

FACT:  Wind can come from any direction or angle and may change direction quickly.  Don’t play the prediction game.  Instead, use approved panels or shutters.  Impact-resistant windows, shutters and doors should have a proof of compliance identified on a sticker or label, or imprinted into the product. Check to be sure your shutters are working properly and fit securely.

MYTH #5:  Sandbags can prevent water from entering a home.

FACT:  Sandbags may channel or direct water away from a home, but only if they are properly filled, placed and maintained.  Fill sandbags only half full, tap into place and limit placement to three layers.

For more hurricane and other disaster safety tips, visit the FLASH website at www.flash.org.

Don’t Wait Until the Next Hurricane is Imminent: Plan, Prepare, Inspect Now


As the northeast deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and all eyes are on Tropical Storm Katia, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. (FLASH®) recommends everyone at risk for hurricanes and floods consider the following tips to prepare now for what the remainder of hurricane season may bring:

  • Make a plan for what your family will do if you have to evacuate from your home. Know your evacuation routes, plan for your pets and be sure to review your insurance coverage including flood insurance.
  • Ensure your family has an emergency kitT.S. Katia Track that will sustain each member for at least 72 hours after a storm has passed.  Following Hurricane Irene, many families in Vermont found themselves cut off from necessary services.  That’s why it’s important that your emergency kit include non-perishable food, water, medication, a first-aid kit, a weather radio and other supplies necessary to the basic survival and comfort of you and your family during a storm.
  • Prepare your home for hurricane-force winds and rain.  Visit www.flash.org and perform a Do-it-Yourself wind inspection to find out what repairs or enhancements your home requires in order to be storm-ready.  Take the time now to make any fixes that you’ve identified using the Protect Your Home in a FLASH resource guide.

“It’s important that families remain diligent about their hurricane season plans and preparations,” said Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President and CEO of FLASH.  “We are only just now entering the most active period of hurricane season.  We all need to make sure we are prepared as there is a long way to go before the season ends.”

Learn even more about proven hurricane preparedness tools such as family plans, hurricane emergency kits, and tips for making structurally stronger homes by visiting the 2011 Great Hurricane Blowout (Blowout) on Facebook.  “Like” the Blowout and become eligible for weekly Home Depot gift card giveaways and enter the Kohler Home Generator Sweepstakes.  More details on Blowout events and other campaign components in the coming days and weeks can be found at www.greathurricaneblowout.org.  Also, follow the Blowout on Twitter (@ghblowout).