Severe storms are dangerous meteorological events with the potential to cause damage, serious social disruption, or loss of human life. It is important to know the types of storms that may be found in your area and be prepared in the event that one occurs.
When the maximum sustained winds of a tropical storm reach 74 miles per hour, it’s called a hurricane. Hurricane Season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30, but these powerful storms can occur before and after the official season. Hurricanes are rated by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale as categories 1 through 5. The higher the category, the more dangerous the hurricane can be. Be prepared. Visit Ready.gov for hurricane tips.
A weather watch means that there is potential for the weather event to occur. No action needs to be taken when watches are issued, however residents should keep up to date in case the watch becomes a warning.
A weather warning means that the weather event is either imminent, or is currently occurring. This can be based on either doppler radar, or eyewitness accounts and residents should be prepared to take action.
A weather advisory also means that the weather event is either imminent or occurring, however, is less severe than a weather warning.
Flash flooding is a rapid flooding of low-lying areas and can come with no warning. Often a flash flood is attributed to heavy rainfall from a severe thunderstorm, hurricane, tropical storm. Melt water from a heavy snow season can also contribute to flash flooding.
Flash flooding can be exasperated when the soil moisture level is high. It is also for this reason that urban areas can sometimes be more prone to flash flooding than the suburbs or countryside. The concrete and asphalt found in urban settings can block the transfer of water channeling it to low spots very quickly.
The Heat Index is the measure of how hot it really feels, once the relative humidity is factored in with the temperature of the air. For example, if the air temperature is 94° with 60% humidity, it will feel like it is 110°. The National Weather Service will begin alert procedures when the Heat Index is expected to exceed 105°-110°F (depending on local climate) for at least 2 consecutive days.
Put very simply, wind chill is the measure of how quickly a person or animal becomes susceptible to frostbite or hypothermia. Gusts of wind will strip heat away from the body, making it feel much colder than the air temperature. For example, on a 5° day with wind gusts of 30 miles per hour, it will feel as though it is -19° and frostbite can set in, in as little as thirty minutes. Wind chill does not impact bodies of water, or anything that does not produce its own heat.
If it is not safe for you to remain home, it is not safe for your pets. Most shelters will only accept service animals, so you will need to have a plan in place in the event that you need to use it. Household pets will have different needs than large and farm animals will.
Plans also need to be in place for large and farm animals. Depending on the event, a decision needs to be made on whether to evacuate the animals, put them in shelter, or leave them in their outdoor paddock.
If you will be evacuating your animals, be sure your truck is always kept gassed up, and your trailer in an easily acceptable spot. If you do not have the means to transport your animals yourself, you should research hauling companies in advance and set a plan in place. Be sure that you do plenty of loading exercises with your animal to be sure they are comfortable stepping into the trailer. The midst of a crisis is not when you want to find out that your horse does not know how to load. Research your destination ahead of time to be sure that they have the facilities to contain your animals, as well as veterinarian offices in the area.
Sometimes it may be better to leave your animals out to pasture. In this case, large animals should also have some form of current identification. This can be in the permanent form of a tattoo, brand, or micro-chip, or an identification tag can be braided into their hair. Livestock markers can also be used to write a name and contact number, along with any special needs, on the animal. If a halter is being left on, it should be a leather, or break-away halter for safety.
When evacuating with large animals, you should bring the following supplies:
water bucket and feed pan
veterinary contact information for clinics in the area you are headed
first aid kit
important documents such as a bill of sale or breed registry papers
photos of any distinguishing marks or scars that can help determine ownership if you become separated
Your large animal first aid kit should include the following:
Your first step should be to become familiar with veterinary offices and kennels who offer boarding that are outside of your immediate area. In the event that disaster strikes when you are not home, you can also set up a buddy system with a neighbor. If you are unable to get home to your pet, your neighbor can evacuate your pet and their emergency kit, and you will do the same for your neighbor.
Just as you need an emergency kit, your pet should have one as well. Your pet should always wear some form of current identification, and/or be micro-chipped. Your kit should include the following:
bowls for food and water
important vet records, including up to date vaccine records
a photo of yourself with your pet in the event you are separated can help to prove ownership
an extra leash, collar, or harness
a secure carrier, the proper size for your pet
any medications that your pet needs
towels or bedding supplies
litter, and any needed cleaning supplies
an item your pet finds comfort in
first aid kit
First aid kits can be purchased pre-made, or you can create your own in a secure storage box. Your first aid kit should include the following:
This guide put out by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will give you important information on the rights of service animals and their handlers.
When creating an emergency plan, it is important that all members of the family are involved in it. After considering what situations are likely to occur in your location, you will know what to plan for. You should have a plan ready to both shelter in place, as well as evacuate. In the event that your family gets separated during an evacuation, there should also be a plan for that. You also should appoint a designated person to check-in with to keep track of where people are and that they are safe. The Red Cross has a template for a plan, or you can create your own.
The best plan is the one formed in advance. Fill out the Family Emergency Plan and keep it in a safe place where all family members can access it.
No two families are alike and it is important to remember that different family members will have different needs that need to be taken in to account when making a plan and building a kit. If a member of your family replies on special medical equipment such as a wheelchair, or oxygen, it’s important that these needs are built into your plan. Plans should be made to have battery backups for equipment in the event of power failure. Not all special needs are visible, and not everyone is able to communicate their special needs. These are important facts to keep in mind even if no one in your family has special needs.
This guide put out by the ADA covers the different ways that emergency planning preparedness is accessible to those with special needs in areas of greatest impact such as notifications and access to medication.