Stay safe, and minimize losses during potentially volatile hurricane season

Author: Virginia Farm Bureau - Gannon and Alice Kemp
Source: Visit Site
Stay safe, and minimize losses during potentially volatile hurricane season

RICHMOND—The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a busy, above-average hurricane season, and residents are urged to stay vigilant and plan for emergencies.

The Atlantic hurricane season kicked off June 1 and runs through Nov. 30, and forecasters say this could be the busiest hurricane season in 25 years, with 17 to 25 named storms. Of those, eight are predicted to become hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher.

Forecasters also are predicting four to seven major hurricanes at Category 3 or greater, with winds reaching 111 mph or higher.

According to weather experts, the busier-than-normal season is attributed to a perfect storm of warmer-than-average ocean temperatures combined with La Niña. The warm ocean temperatures fuel storms. La Niña lessens wind shear in the tropics, allowing storms to develop and intensify in the Atlantic basin.

“Severe weather and emergencies can happen at any moment, which is why individuals and communities need to be prepared today,” said FEMA deputy administrator Erik Hooks. “Already, we are seeing storms move across the country that can bring additional hazards like tornadoes, flooding and hail.”

Homeowners should prepare their homes in advance by inspecting roofs, clearing gutters and sealing any cracks or gaps on your home’s exterior to avoid water damage. Trim or remove weak trees and branches near the house and structures to protect your property from high winds. Ensure sump pumps and drains are working properly, and test generators and power backups.

If a storm is imminent, residents should secure their property by boarding up windows with plywood and batten down or move inside any outdoor furniture and items that could become flying projectiles during storms.

“Take the time to do a household inventory,” to have on hand in case a claim needs to be filed, advised Laurie Gannon, vice president of claims for Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. “And review your insurance policies with your agent beforehand to ensure you’re properly covered.”

Keep your family safe by monitoring weather reports and establishing a family communications plan. Virginia Farm Bureau’s Hurricane Preparedness Central provides a free family communications plan for download and has other tips for hurricane preparation.

And as always, have an emergency kit ready, and ensure your car has a full tank of gas in case of an evacuation. Emergency kits should include essential items like a 3- to 5-day supply of food, change of clothes, a first-aid kit, battery powered radio, flashlight and batteries, medication, cash and credit cards. Secure important documents in a watertight container.