June is here and with it sunshine, warm weather, and graduations but the month is also the beginning of hurricane season. From June to November our coastal cities and towns brace themselves every time someone says tropical storm—particularly since our recent memories are filled with the destructive footprints of Katrina, Rita and Sandy. But if history has taught us anything it’s that the lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common among all major hurricane disasters.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season will be an active to extremely active season. They are predicting 13 to 20 named tropical cyclones and between seven to 11 hurricanes (storms with sustained winds of at least 74 mph) and of those three to six may become major hurricanes. NOAA urges people to understand it only takes one storm to make it a bad season.
This is why preparation is needed especially if you live on the coast—in 2010 39 percent of the U.S. population lived in counties directly on the shoreline. Recently many local Community Health Centers, have been posting on social media about the steps you can take to prepare for a hurricane. NOAA has also created a preparedness guide, and a website with informative videos and posters. Another great resource for information is the Ready.gov website. There you will find information about hurricanes, and what to do before, during and after one.
A few tips for health centers include:
- Review your plan now to make sure the contact information is up to date and reflects any significant organizational changes
- Touch base with your community partners if you haven’t seen or talked to them in awhile
- Make sure your staff knows what you expect them to do to help your health center continue to provide health care if a hurricane or other disaster occurs
- Encourage your staff and patients to develop/update their own personal preparedness plan
Remember, preparation and common sense are your best tools to stay safe in a hurricane.