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Hurricanes: Science and Society
During a Hurricane: How to Be Safe
Image of flooded roads in TX after Hurricane Dolly.
South Texas suffered severe flooding and wide spread power outages after Hurricane Dolly (2008). Many avoidable deaths occur due to hurricane flooding when motorists drive into floodwaters thinking they can safely drive through the water. As little as one foot of moving water can sweep a car off the road. Six inches of moving floodwater can sweep an adult off their feet. The Turn Around, Don’t Drown national campaign initiated by the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) is an excellent public safety movement that has saved lives across America by reminding motorists to NEVER drive through flooded streets if they cannot see the road. Photo credit: Patsy Lynch/FEMA.

The greatest threat to personal safety exists during a storm and in the immediate aftermath when high winds can topple trees and produce deadly flying debris. Heavy rain can produce flash floods and storm surge can present another deadly threat. To stay safe in a home during a hurricane, it is suggested that individuals follow these steps:

  • Stay inside and away from windows, skylights and glass doors. Find a safe area in the home (an interior room, a closet or bathroom on the lower level).
  • If flooding threatens a home, turn off electricity at the main breaker.
  • If a home loses power, turn off major appliances such as the air conditioner and water heater to reduce damage.
  • Do not use electrical appliances, including your computer.
  • Do not go outside. If the eye of the storm passes over your area, there will be a short period of calm, but at the other side of the eye, the wind speed rapidly increases to hurricane force and will come from the opposite direction. Also, do not go outside to see "what the wind feels like." It is too easy to be hit by flying debris.
  • Beware of lightning. Stay away from electrical equipment. Don't use the phone or take a bath/shower during the storm.


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