Delaware Emergency Management Agency
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a 70% likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms during the six month hurricane season. These storms would contain winds of 39 MPH or higher. NOAA further predicts that 7 to 11 of the storms reach hurricane intensity, with winds in excess of 74 MPH, and 3 to 6 could become Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricanes, which contain winds over 111 MPH. Officials at NOAA point out that the ranges are above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. The prediction from NOAA does not predict how many of the storms could affect the mid-Atlantic region.
The Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) encourages Delaware residents and visitors to be personally prepared for the possibility of a tropical storm or hurricane affecting the state sometime during hurricane season (June 1-November 30). While some residents of nearby states are still dealing with the impacts from Tropical Storm “Sandy”, which hit the area in late October 2012, those in Delaware remember that the state was spared a major impact from “Sandy” and Tropical Storm “Irene” in 2011. While Delaware was fortunate to be out of the critical impact areas from those storms, officials warn that residents should not be lulled into letting down their guard.
Delaware residents are urged to know their risk from hurricanes, take action, and be examples for family and friends. National Hurricane Preparedness Week provides an opportunity for people to take action now to respond to the possibility of a tropical storm or hurricane sometime during the year.
Actions to be taken now include making an emergency evacuation plan and knowing evacuation routes, preparing an emergency kit or making sure an existing kit is up to date, and inventorying and copying important documents and making sure valuables are secured in a safe place.
Essential to every household is an Emergency Supply Kit. This is a collection of basic items that should be readily available in the event of an emergency of any nature. Basic items to have in an Emergency Supply Kit include:
WATER – One gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days (4 person household = 12 gallons), for drinking and sanitation. If a storm is anticipated, fill a bathtub to provide water for sanitation purposes (refilling toilet tanks).
FOOD – A supply of non-perishable food for three days. Take into account that cooking might not be possible. Make sure you have sufficient food for pets, as well. And very importantly, a manual can opener is needed in the event power is lost.
RADIO – A battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, and a NOAA weather radio with a tone alert. Make sure to have extra batteries.
LIGHTING – A flashlight with extra batteries at the least. Battery-operated lanterns can also provide safe indoor light. Battery-operated, flameless “candles” can also provide illumination. Solar-powered lawn lights can be recharged during the day by placing them outside (when there is sunlight), and brought inside after dark to provide safe, renewable light. Avoid regular candles and other open flames.
FIRST AID KIT – You should also make sure that medications are current and there are sufficient amounts, especially prescription medications, to last three days.
WHISTLE – Allows you to signal for help.
DUST MASK – Certain events could put large amounts of dust and other contaminants in the air.
PLASTIC SHEETING & DUCT TAPE – Certain events might result in emergency officials advising residents to shelter in place. These items can help prevent damage to the residence.
PERSONAL SANITATION – Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties.
TOOLS – You may be instructed to turn off utilities such as gas or water. A wrench or pliers can help do the job.
EVACUATION SUPPLIES – An evacuation plan should be made well in advance, but it is a good idea to have maps available if you are not familiar with the area.
COMMUNICATIONS – In an emergency, electrical power could be lost for days. A car charger, inverter or solar charger can keep a cell phone working. If the household has only cordless phones, keep a “corded” phone on hand – if the power is out, the cordless phone will not work, but a corded phone could be plugged in, providing phone service. Keep calls to a minimum, but to conserve power and to keep phone lines from becoming clogged.
GENERATORS – Generators should never be used in enclosed spaces, including garages, or near doors or windows. Plenty of ventilation is needed to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Gasoline and other fuels need to be stored outside as well. Generators should be tested and care used when re-fueling.
Preparation is important. Residents should know whether their land is flood-prone, and if any nearby dams or levees pose a risk. Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters provide the best protection for windows, but 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install is an alternative. It should be prepared in advance and stored, as in-stock plywood might be hard to find in stores when a storm is imminent.
Trim trees and shrubs near your home to prevent damage. If trees or branches pose a threat to power lines, contact the utility – homeowners should not attempt to remove them because of the risk of electrocution. Clear rain gutters and downspouts.
More information on how to prepare can be found at www.ready.gov/hurricanes. DEMA has also prepared a Delaware Hurricane Evacuation Guide. It can be obtained in printed form, or viewed as a pdf file at www.dema.delaware.gov.