According to William Gray, the world's pre-eminent hurricane forecaster, this year is shaping up to be least as active as the 1998 season, which was the most expensive, destructive and deadly in modern history. Gray expects 14 tropical storms, nine hurricanes and four intense hurricanes to form in the Atlantic this season, and he warns that there is a higher-than-normal chance of at least one of the major hurricanes making landfall in the United States.
If your are in an area at risk of hurricanes, like the Virgin Islands, your best defense this hurricane season is to be prepared. The following activities are recommended by the American Red Cross:
Before a hurricane threatens:
* Determine if you are in a hurricane evacuation zone, and plan a safe evacuation route.
* Have disaster supplies on hand including:
-Flashlight and extra batteries
-Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
-First aid kit and manual
-Emergency food and water
-Non-electric can opener
-Essential medicines and baby supplies
-Cash and credit cards
-Identification, insurance papers and other important papers
*Make arrangements for pets.
*Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a hurricane.
*Protect your windows.
*Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.
*Check into flood insurance.
*Develop an emergency communication plan in case family members are separated from one another. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." Make sure everyone in the family knows how to reach the contact person.
During a Hurricane Watch:
*Listen to a battery operated radio or television for hurricane reports
*Check emergency supplies.
*Bring in or anchor outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and garden tools.
*Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows. Remove outside antennas.
*Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest setting and open only when necessary.
*Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles and cooking utensils.
*Review evacuation plan.
During a Hurricane Warning:
*Listen constantly to battery operated radio or television for official instructions.
*If in a mobile home, check tie-downs and evacuate immediately.
*Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container.
*Stay inside, away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
*Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid using open flames (candles and kerosene lamps) as a source of light.
*If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power surge when electricity is restored.
If officials indicate evacuation is necessary:
*Leave as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges.
*Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve.
*Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going.
*Bring pre-assembled emergency supplies and warm protective clothing.
*Take blankets and sleeping bags to shelter.
*Lock up home and leave.
After a hurricane strikes:
*Stay tuned to local radio for information.
*Help injured or trapped persons.
*Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
*Use telephone only for emergency calls.
*Return home only after authorities advise that it is safe to do so.
*Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the authorities.
*Enter your home with caution.
*Beware of snakes, insects or animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. A volunteer-led humanitarian service organization, the American Red Cross annually provides almost half the nation's blood supply, trains more than 11.7 million people in vital lifesaving skills, mobilizes relief to victims in more than 60,000 disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to 2.5 million people, assists internatinal disaster and conflict victims in more than 20 countries, and transmits more than 1.4 million emergency messages to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.