New Jersey isn’t a state traditionally associated with a high risk for hurricanes, but with recent weather events like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Joaquin, New Jersey residents and tourists should be ready for heavy rains and winds and the problems associated with them.
This is especially true this hurricane season, which officially began June 1st. Forecasters have predicted the worst hurricane season in three years with 14 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes due to the reappearance of La Nina, an unusual cooling in the Pacific Ocean near the equator that often brings violent weather to the Atlantic.
To prepare for dangers like flooding, wind damage, power outages, food shortages, and more, here is a list of Jersey shore hurricane safety tips both residents and tourists can use to stay safe this upcoming season.
- Track storms.
Pay attention to local weather reports, especially the time a storm is expected to hit your area and when it will be at its strongest. Plan any necessary errands or activities around this time. You would never want to be caught outdoors in a hurricane! Keep track of any media outlets to which you have access.
- Clear your lawn (if you have one).
Anything on your lawn can be blown away by strong winds, including large objects like grills and lawn furniture. In fact, those items are the most risky because they are often the most expensive to replace and can cause the most damage if blown far away. Bring outside objects inside your house or, if that isn’t plausible, secure them to a deck or patio. Do not use outdoor appliances like grills inside the house.
- Secure everything else.
Doors and windows should be locked up tight in case of strong winds! Nailing plywood over the windows would help even more.
- Move your furniture.
If your area is in a high risk flooding zone, it might be a good idea to either move basement and first floor furniture up to the second floor, or place whatever you can on sturdy tables, ledges, or countertops. Make sure expensive items are in a safe place and that you have cash on hand, since bank cards will not work in the event of a power outage.
- Stock up.
A lot of people make fun of the people who run out to the store the day before a big storm and come home with dozens of water bottles, batteries, canned goods, and other emergency supplies, but they are the exact group of people who will survive not only the next hurricane or Nor’easter, but the any apocalyptic event. You should have approximately 3 gallons of water per person in your household, 3 days worth of non-perishable food, a supply of medication, and food for pets as well. Also make sure you have scanned or digital copies of important government and financial documents
- Prepare an emergency kit.
Fill it with flashlights, batteries of all types, medical supplies, blankets for all housemates, a radio and can opener that don’t require an electrical outlet, and a fire extinguisher.
- Get gas and plug in your phone.
Make sure your gas tanks on all of your vehicles are full (but do NOT drive during the storm!) and make sure your phone batteries are full. Only use it when absolutely necessary. You can download weather tracking, disaster preparation, first aid guide, flashlight, and emergency services apps and sign up for social media updates if you have a smartphone.
Make sure that your refrigerator/freezer are at the lowest possible temperatures. That way, if the power goes out, perishable food will stay cold longer.
- Remember everyone else!
Make sure people you know like older family members, friends, and neighbors are prepared for the storm. Make sure you have an emergency contact list as well, including at least one person living in an area unaffected by the storm and emergency officials.
- Make a plan.
What if there’s a power outage? What if the basement starts flooding? What if the roof flies off the house?! These scenarios are possible during a hurricane, so it’s important to prepare for them with a plan the whole family agrees on. Where will you meet? What will each family member do to mitigate the damage or keep one another safe?
- Check your generator and sump pump.
If you have a generator, you’ll still have power if the grid shuts off. The sump pump will help prevent flooding. Check that both are functional before the storm. Unplug appliances if the power goes out, and disconnect from the grid before using them if you have a generator.
- Be prepared to evacuate.
If the forecast is particularly bad, the state may ask you to evacuate. You should make doubly sure you have gas and ensure that each family member has contact information on their person. Unplug all appliances, turn off the electricity, and shut off the water valve if you have to leave. Know your evacuation route before you have to drive it!
- Stay away.
Avoid contact with downed wires, flooded basements, and the smell of gas.
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, so be sure to do your own research, listen to authorities, read up on local emergency management, and change your plans depending on the situation. We hope you don’t get caught in a hurricane, but if you do, stay safe, and follow these Jersey shore hurricane safety tips!