Hurricane preparedness

Hurricane preparedness

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Hurricane preparedness encompasses the actions and planning taken before a tropical cyclone
Tropical cyclone
A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

 strikes to mitigate damage and injury from the storm. Preparedness may involve preparations made by individuals as well as centralized efforts by governments or other organizations.

History


Recent windstorm activity, in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in particular, has focused interest in measures that can be used to lower the likelihood of damage to structures. Billions of dollars of damages have resulted from such strong wind
Wind
Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space...

s and the manner in which structures have been built in the affected areas in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Some building codes address mitigation measures, such as the Florida Building Code, which was influenced by scientific observations and lessons learned by the Institute of the Florida International University called International Hurricane Research Center.

Individual preparedness



An important decision in individual preparedness is determining if and when to evacuate an area that will be affected by a tropical cyclone. If evacuation is not possible or necessary, other preparedness actions include storing supplies, securing a home against extreme winds and rain, and making plans with others prior to the storm's landfall.

Hurricane preparedness kits usually include drinkable water, sealed pre-prepared meals MRE
MRE
The Meal, Ready-to-Eat — commonly known as the MRE — is a self-contained, individual field ration in lightweight packaging bought by the United States military for its service members for use in combat or other field conditions where organized food facilities are not available...

, first-aid kits, prescription medications in sealed containers, waterproof battery-powered or hand-crank-powered flashlights and radios, a whistle or other sound-signaling device, a multi-tool
Multi-tool
A multi-tool is any one of a range of portable, versatile hand tools that combines several individual functions in a single unit...

 with a knife, identification and medical cards, any necessary medical records, waterproof bags or portable waterproof containers, and other supplies helpful to a survival situation.

Preparedness also may include having discussed evacuation plans and routes, and informing others of those plans before a disaster occurs.

Evacuation to hurricane shelters is an option of last resort. Shelter space is first come first serve and only intended preserve human life. Buildings designated as shelters in Florida are required to only have been constructed to meet minimum code requirements applicable at the time of design. Some shelters are expected to protect occupants from wind and water but are not expected to provide food, water, sanitation, or bedding.

Home retrofitting


An important decision a homeowner should make is to locate the building outside of range from the coast that is exposed to storm surge
Storm surge
A storm surge is an offshore rise of water associated with a low pressure weather system, typically tropical cyclones and strong extratropical cyclones. Storm surges are caused primarily by high winds pushing on the ocean's surface. The wind causes the water to pile up higher than the ordinary sea...

. Regardless of protection from the effects of wind, a building can be flooded or destroyed by storm surge waters.

To mitigate the effects of high winds and associated debris impact, the home can be examined out by an experienced hurricane mitigation professional. Many hurricane protection companies offer free consultations as part of their marketing strategy. The State of Florida has taken steps to help its homeowners in the area of hurricane preparedness through its My Safe Florida Home grant program. Qualified homeowners receive a free in-home assessment of their home's hurricane readiness. The state matches funds spent by the homeowner, up to a $5,000 limit.

When making these types of home improvements, there are two major areas of focus: the roof and the openings.

Homes may be retrofitted to withstand the extreme conditions of a tropical cyclone. Common modifications include reinforcing gabled roofs, applying additional adhesives to roof shingles, installing hurricane straps and clips to ensure the roof stays in place despite high winds. Hurricane resistant shutters, as well as impact resistant glass may help keep windows closed from driving rain, despite flying debris.

Reinforcing garage doors and entry doors is also common practice for hurricane preparing a home. Garage doors may be protected by fabric screens, made of a strong woven fabric, to keep out projectiles and to reinforce the door.

The goal of these mitigation measures and products is to decrease the likelihood of severe damage a home. There is no guarantee that these measures will safeguard any home against any kind of storm
Storm
A storm is any disturbed state of an astronomical body's atmosphere, especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather...

 and the projectile
Projectile
A projectile is any object projected into space by the exertion of a force. Although a thrown baseball is technically a projectile too, the term more commonly refers to a weapon....

s that may come with a storm
Storm
A storm is any disturbed state of an astronomical body's atmosphere, especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather...

, but a well-protected home is far more likely to come through a hurricane in better shape than a home that has little or no protection.

Organized preparation



Hurricane mitigation uses policies to make buildings and other infrastructure more resistant to the effects of tropical cyclones. In addition to facilities themselves being at risk, the internal contents of the structures can be damaged as result of exposure to water if the building envelope is breached, usually as a result of the strong wind
Wind
Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space...

s associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. Although the negative pressure caused by high velocity wind flowing over a building roof can cause the roof to fail with the building envelope intact, broken windows allow the air pressure to rise inside a building, creating an even greater pressure difference, and increasing the likelihood of roof failure. This pressure increase results after an opening, that is, a window or door, is breached after being struck and broken by wind blown debris.

Product certification


Few codes make the use of hurricane mitigation products mandatory. As the field is rather new to construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

, few standards exist to address uniform testing or product certification
Product certification
Product certification or product qualification is the process of verifying that a certain product has passed performance tests and quality assurance tests or qualification requirements stipulated in contracts, regulations, or specifications...

 of product installations.

Test facilities


There is no single test standard or facility capable of qualifying the protection of an entire building
Building
In architecture, construction, engineering, real estate development and technology the word building may refer to one of the following:...

. The Cyclone Testing Station in Australia can test building systems (e.g., roofs, exterior cladding), and indirectly test entire small buildings with structural loading to simulate wind pressures. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the test facilities at the FM Global
FM Global
FM Global is a U.S.-based insurance company, with offices worldwide, that specializes in loss prevention services primarily to large corporations throughout the world in the Highly Protected Risk property insurance market sector. "FM Global" is the communicative name of the company, whereas the...

 Research Campus includes both direct wind testing of roof components to speeds up to 160 mph (71.5 m/s), and roof uplift simulation using suction tables per industry standards.

Hurricane simulator


University of Florida
University of Florida
The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...

's team led by Forrest Masters developed “the world's most powerful portable hurricane simulator, a giant machine capable of reproducing winds in excess of 120 mph (53.6 m/s) and recreating rain.” It consists of eight large fans driven by four diesel engines, with a 5,000-gallon (19,000 litre) water tank to keep the engines cooled. The university is currently designing water-resistant windows, wind-proof tiles and altogether stronger structures.

See also

  • Emergency preparedness
  • HELPS Hurricane Expo
    HELPS Hurricane Expo
    HELPS is an acronym which stands for the Hurricane Exposition for Learning, Preparation, and Safety.The HELPS hurricane expo is an exposition intended to help the general public prepare for, endure through and recover from hurricanes and other natural disasters...

  • Hurricane-proof building
    Hurricane-proof building
    Tornadoes, cyclones, and other strong winds damage or destroy many buildings. However, with proper design and construction, the damage to buildings by these forces can be greatly reduced. A variety of methods can help a building survive strong winds and storm surge....

  • Tropical cyclone
    Tropical cyclone
    A tropical cyclone is a storm system characterized by a large low-pressure center and numerous thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain. Tropical cyclones strengthen when water evaporated from the ocean is released as the saturated air rises, resulting in condensation of water vapor...

  • Wind
    Wind
    Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space...

  • Storm
    Storm
    A storm is any disturbed state of an astronomical body's atmosphere, especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather...

  • Product certification
    Product certification
    Product certification or product qualification is the process of verifying that a certain product has passed performance tests and quality assurance tests or qualification requirements stipulated in contracts, regulations, or specifications...

  • Hurricane shutters
  • Insurance
    Insurance
    In law and economics, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment. An insurer is a company selling the...



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