What to Expect When You Are Expecting a Hurricane

By Reader's Digest Editors

In a strange twist of fate, much of the East Coast that was rattled by a rare earthquake this week will very likely weather an uncommonly strong hurricane this weekend. As Hurricane Irene approaches land, the most important thing residents can do is be prepared. One step is to understand the rating system used to categorize hurricanes so you have an idea of the potential damage in your area. Most important of all is to follow common sense precautions: listen to your local news and follow any evacuation advice.

Below is a summary of what you can expect with each category and how to build a simple emergency kit.

Category 1: 74-95 mph

Very dangerous winds will produce some damage

  • Minor damage to exterior of homes
  • Toppled tree branches, uprooting of smaller trees
  • Extensive damage to power lines, power outages

Category 2: 96-110

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage

  • Major damage to exterior of homes
  • Uprooting of small trees and many roads blocked
  • Guaranteed power outages for long periods of time – days to weeks

Category 3:  111-130

Devastating damage will occur

  • Extensive damage to exterior of homes
  • Many trees uprooted and many roads blocked
  • Extremely limited availability of water and electricity

Category 4: 131-155

Catastrophic damage will occur

  • Loss of roof structure and/or some exterior walls
  • Most trees uprooted and most power lines down
  • Isolated residential due to debris pile up
  • Power outages lasting for weeks to months

Category 5: More than 155

Catastrophic damage will occur

  • A high percentage of homes will be destroyed
  • Fallen trees and power lines isolate residential areas
  • Power outages lasting for weeks to months
  • Most areas will be uninhabitable

Here’s what the federal government’s Ready.gov website recommends having on hand:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet

Source: Ready.gov