Over the past year, our country has seen a number of extreme weather events – from the local Derecho storm that knocked out power and phone service to the tragic Superstorm Sandy and tornados that ripped through Monroe, Oklahoma, resulting in a tragic loss of life.
The severe temperatures and extreme weather events we have experienced in recent years fit the predictive pattern of global climate change, a reality on which there is almost complete scientific consensus. We know that higher concentrations of greenhouse gases over the past 50 years and increasingly unpredictable, violent weather is not caused by natural factors alone. Unfortunately, until we can greatly reduce the use of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases they release into our atmosphere, we will continue to experience these severe storms with greater frequency.
While I work in Congress to promote policies that will protect the environment and reduce the impacts we are experiencing from climate change, and support emergency aid to areas impacted by severe weather, there are steps you and your family should take today to prepare for Hurricane Season.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June through November, though we typically experience most storms from late August through October. Hurricanes can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and mircrobursts. Further, floods and flying debris from the excessive winds are often the deadly and destructive results of these weather events.
As we begin this hurricane season, I encourage every household to make an emergency kit with first aid, food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours without electricity.
FEMA has some helpful tips to prepare and endure a storm once a hurricane is forecast, including:
Before a storm:
• Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground;
• If in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor;
• Cover all of your home’s windows and reinforce garage doors; and
• Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, and anything else that is not tied down.
During a hurricane:
• Listen to the radio or TV for information;
• Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed; and
• Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
After the storm:
• Continue listening to the radio or TV for the latest updates;
• Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads. Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks;
• Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company; and
• Inspect your home for damage and if you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area.
Hurricanes usually offer warning time and being prepared for the storm can mean the difference between life and death. Please be safe this hurricane season.
You can learn more about ways to prepare for this year’s hurricane season, by visiting http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.