How to Prepare for ‘Worst-Case Scenario’ Hurricane

This hurricane season is forecast to be “well above average,” with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting up to 20 named storms, including six to 10 that become hurricanes.

A palm tree with its branches being blown sideways in strong winds.
(TNS) - The Atlantic hurricane season kicks off Tuesday, and it's not too late to prepare for a potential natural disaster.

Strong storms can batter coastal areas with strong winds, flooding and storm surge throughout hurricane season, which lasts through November.

So how do you prepare for a hurricane? Here's what to know about gathering essential supplies and reviewing your emergency plans before a worst-case scenario strikes.

Assessing your risk

The first step toward preparing for hurricanes is figuring out if your area is at risk for impacts from tropical weather.

"Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem," the National Weather Service said on its website. "Their impacts can be felt hundreds of miles inland, and significant impacts can occur without it being a major hurricane."

To help determine your risk, the National Weather Service has an online map that shows how often a storm passes by a location on average. Federal officials also run a "hurricane tracks tool" that allows people to search for past storms.

Once you find out how storms might impact you, federal officials suggest becoming familiar with evacuation zones in your area. If a storm comes, you should plan to follow evacuation instructions from local officials, according to ready.gov.

Making a plan

In addition to practicing evacuation routes, there are other steps you can take to get ready for a hurricane. Here's what emergency management officials suggest:

— Create an emergency plan and share it with others who live with you.

— Figure out ways stay in touch with loved ones if you get separated.

— Research shelters your family and pets can visit in case an evacuation is ordered.

— Keep your car filled with gas and an emergency kit inside

— Find and make copies of ID cards and insurance documents.

— Keep cellphones charged and set up multiple ways to receive weather alerts.

— Pack a to-go bag with essential items in case you need to leave your home quickly.

Stocking up

It's also recommended to stock up on several days of essentials, such as food and medications. But instead of rushing to empty store shelves, officials urge people to buy items over time.

"This helps to protect those who are unable to procure essentials beforehand and must shop more frequently," ready.gov said on its list of hurricane preparation tips. "Only take the items you and your family may need so that others who rely on these products can also access them."

Here are some of the items the website and other resources recommend adding to your shopping list, if you don't have them already:

— Non-perishable food and can opener

— Water for sanitation and drinking

— Medicines

— Face masks

— Flashlight with extra batteries

— Hand- or battery-powered radio

— First aid kit

— Hand sanitizer and disinfectants

— Paper map

— Whistle in case you need to call for help

— Chargers for electronics

— Tool to turn off home utilities

Staying alert

This hurricane season is forecast to be "well above average," with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting up to 20 named storms, including six to 10 that become hurricanes.

"We do not expect the 2021 hurricane season to be as active as 2020," said Matthew Rosencrans of NOAA's climate prediction center, according to the Miami Herald.

If a hurricane is in the forecast, it's best to listen to updates and evacuation instructions from local authorities.

"They will provide the latest recommendations based on the threat to your community and appropriate safety measures," the ready.gov website said.

When a storm is approaching, forecasters may issue hurricane watches or warnings. Of the two, warnings pose a more imminent threat of 74 mph or higher sustained winds within the next 36 hours, McClatchy News reported in September.

"A Hurricane Warning means that hurricane conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area," forecasters said. "Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion."

An area is under a hurricane watch when sustained winds over the next two days have the potential to top 74 mph.

Storm surge and flooding are possible in areas under hurricane watches and warnings, according to the National Weather Service.

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