National Preparedness Month: How to Prepare for Hurricanes

For the second week in National Preparedness Month, we would like to discuss preparing for a hurricane from an environmental standpoint by ensuring that all hazardous materials are secured and properly stored before a storm hits.

Often times we associate the summer months with hurricane season and now as the summer comes to a close and we edge towards fall, hurricanes might not be on our minds. However, we should not forget that hurricane season extends through November and it is important that we stay vigilant and prepared. Just this week, Humberto was the named the first hurricane of the Atlantic season.

Hurricanes can devastate a community, but high winds and flooding can further cause pollutants to be released into the environment.  Boats are frequently sunk and garages sustain flood damage releasing fuels, oils, and other chemicals into the environment.  The Department’s Office of Emergency Response recommends storing materials above the flood zone and in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines, as well as state and federal regulations.  We also recommend storing these items away from windows to reduce the likelihood of exposure.  Placing materials on secure shelving can limit the opportunities of spillage during a storm.

Prior to a hurricane season, it is a good idea to get rid of any unwanted hazardous waste.  We suggest checking garages, boats, sheds, and other recreational vehicles to identify any unwanted waste.  These materials should be disposed of in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines on the container or at a county hazardous waste facility.  You can visit the DEP Hazardous Waste Website to locate a facility in your area and obtain more information about disposing of it.

Here is a list of hazardous materials that should be secured or stored properly:

  • Paints
  • Pesticides
  • Waste Containers
  • Chlorine Cylinders for Swimming Pools
  • Compressed Gases

Here are also some additional tips for boat owners:

  • Develop a severe weather preparedness plan and ask your marina for their site specific preparedness plan.
  • Remove portable containers and cans of paint, fuel, oils and cleaners. Either properly dispose or store securely.
  • If it is possible and still safe, remove boats from the water and onto the upland. If this is not possible, move vessel out of slips and into open or highly protected waters.
  • All boats, whether in the water or on a trailer, should be secured with extra safety lines. Boats in the water should be secured with extra lines and additional fenders.
  • Remove portable marine sanitation devices, loose gear and equipment.
  • Secure all hatches, doorways and windows to prevent water intrusion.

In case you missed it, here is last week’s entry that details the function and responsibility of the Department’s Office of Emergency Response.

Check back next week when we will discuss responsible parties.

Also, check out the FEMA website for more information on National Preparedness Month.

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