Preparing for a Hurricane, Tornado, or Earthquake

Hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes are deadly and venomous weather-related incidents. Understanding how to adequately prepare for these types of incidents is critical. Various geographic locations have a high probability of weather-related incidents, subsequently causing a major impact to communities at any given time. Proper preparation is warranted to prevent loss of life and further devastation to the community. So how does an individual prepare for these types of potential disasters?  First it is important to recognize that different locations are subject to different types of weather-related incidents. Understanding the type of weather-related disaster most common to your geographical location is essential in preparing for a weather related incident.

For instance, the summer season is an ideal time for hurricanes to occur since the ocean waters are warm. Wind speeds of hurricanes can be extremely dangerous and can peak at over 150 miles per hour. This type of excessive winds can devastate communities and cause a tremendous number of injuries and casualties. In this case, individual preparedness is vital—it is prudent to listen to local authorities, stay informed of the weather forecast, and have an emergency supply kit. An emergency supply kit should consist of water, canned food, medication, flashlights, extra batteries, and other supplies. Additionally, objects that are capable of being blown by the wind should be secured or moved indoors. It is also critical to stay indoors and away from windows during a hurricane, as flying glass or debris can cause serious bodily harm.

Tornados often occur after a hurricane or serious thunderstorms, with dangerous rotating winds that have an unpredictable pattern. Wind speeds of a tornado can reach over 300 miles per hour. Unlike hurricanes, there is usually no way of predicting in advance when a tornado will occur. In the event of a tornado it is imperative to immediately seek shelter. Designate a safe room in your place of residence, ideally on a lower level floor such as a basement, and make available an emergency supply preparedness kit. Being cognizant of falling objects is also warranted in the occurrence of a tornado. In the event that you are separated from your family during a storm, it is important to have a prearranged meeting location; this will assist greatly in locating family and friends.

Another type of incident that has the potential to cause a lot of damages is an earthquake. Earthquakes are very massive and can cause a tremendous amount of destruction. An earthquake’s dangerous shakes can cause buildings and homes to shake or even collapse.  Earthquakes can range from a magnitude of 2.0 on the Richter scale, which will have minimum impact, to more than 9.0, which can cause widespread devastation.  Most injuries and deaths from an earthquake are due to falling objects and debris. It is important to protect yourself during these violent shakings: drop to your knees, cover your head under a sturdy table, and hold on to the object that you are beneath. This can assist in preventing serious injuries or even death.          

Adequate planning is necessary to mitigate the impact of weather-related disasters. Earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes can happen in a moment’s notice. Therefore, planning for these incidents should be an ongoing process and should include coordinating with your local authorities, family members, and neighbors. Additionally, checking and replenishing your emergency supply kit is relevant. Finally, it is important to be familiar with your neighbors who may need additional assistance, such as the elderly or infants. With proper planning, a person can mitigate the risk and potentially survive these devastating incidents.    

Joseph T. Moore, PhD, School of Health Sciences, Adjunct Faculty
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