Itasca, IL — The National Safety Council encourages Americans along the East Coast to monitor the progress of Hurricane Florence, heed government warnings and be aware that other Atlantic storms may develop in the coming weeks as the country moves into the peak of hurricane season. Additionally, the Council urges Americans impacted by Tropical Depression Gordon to be aware of flash flooding.
Because severe weather and natural disasters can occur at any time with devastating effects, an impending storm is a timely reminder to review safety procedures. September is Emergency Preparedness Month, and the National Safety Council is calling on Americans to develop emergency kits and plans in the event of unpredictable, severe weather. In 2017, 59,985 weather events resulted 592 deaths and 4,270 injuries. Flash floods, tropical storms, and heat waves resulted in the most deaths during 2017.
NSC advises families to keep an emergency kit at home and in the car. Kits should contain basic needs to sustain a family for at least 72 hours. When putting together an emergency plan, families should practice various methods of evacuation or identify places to seek shelter, make emergency contact lists in case family members become separated and learn how their community alerts residents when severe weather or a natural disaster are imminent. Sample emergency kits and plans can be found at nsc.org/emergencykit.
Tips for staying safe in hurricanes and for navigating flash floods include:
- Board up windows and secure loose items like patio furniture
- Establish an assembly point for family members to meet if separated, and choose one person everyone can contact with their whereabouts and status
- Take shelter in a sturdy building; avoid isolated sheds or other small structures, open areas, hilltops, the beach or boats
- If you are driving in heavy rain, try to safely exit the road, stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers
- Never drive into flooded areas; if flood waters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground
- Avoid contact with electrical equipment, cords, metal and water
- Listen for warning sirens, stay away from windows and exterior doors, and seek shelter in a bathroom or basement
- Stay indoors until authorities tell you it's safe to go outside
- Know your proximity to rivers, streams and dams
- During heavy rain, avoid underpasses, underground parking garages and basements
- Don't walk in water above your ankles; you can be swept off your feet in as little as 6 inches of rushing water
- Turn off the electricity and other utilities