Editorial: Get ready for hurricanes now
While hurricanes don’t usually affect New England until the fall, there is nothing usual about this year.
Hurricane season officially runs June 1 through Nov. 30, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association expects it to be “above normal” with 13 to 19 named storms likely. Of those, six to 10 could make it to hurricane status, with three to six major hurricanes in category 3, 4 or 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher. Storms started brewing in May.
Added to all of this weather activity is the continuing coronavirus pandemic. This will make taking warnings and precautions seriously. Forewarned is forearmed. Panic buying one or two days in advance is not a plan.
Instead, plan to be self-sufficient and shelter in place for the first three to four days.
Your emergency plan should include one gallon of water per person per day for seven to 14 days as well as nonperishable and easy-to-prepare food for the same time period.
Keep medications and pet supplies up to date. Have a portable radio, lantern, extra batteries, an extra phone charger, cash on hand, and a full tank of gas.
Have a “go bag” ready if there is a need to evacuate. This year, include hand sanitizer, mask, gloves, and toilet paper. Also in there should be fresh medications, a photo record on your phone of important documents such as insurance, prescriptions, passport, deeds, etc.
Make a family plan: Where will you meet if you are separated? Where will you go if you need to evacuate? Have an out-of-town contact person who can update family members and share information.
Make a pet plan: Have pet needs, including rabies certificates, in case of evacuation.
Be house ready. Trim trees and shrubs and assess other potential hazards around your home. Have generators inspected and make sure those that are portable are used in a safe location — away from the house. Check your manufacturer’s directions.
Just because a hurricane might be over doesn’t mean the danger is. Avoid driving or wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water. Beware also of electrical wires downed in the street.
Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance.
Be on the lookout for emotional damage by being available for family, friends, and neighbors who may need someone to talk to about their feelings. Helping others cope with their anxiety and stress can make our community stronger.
Many people may already feel fear and anxiety about COVID-19. The threat of or damage done by a hurricane can add additional stress.
Finally, if you haven’t already, sign up for e-alerts from the town — under Resident Action Center — on wiltonct.org. Check the town website and WiltonBulletin.com for updates and important information before and after any storms or other emergencies.
For those who like to keep track of such things, this year’s tropical storm names are: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal (already come and gone), Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.
Remember, don’t put off planning. Do it now. Fay, Isaias and Jospehine won’t call ahead to say they’re coming.