WASHINGTON -- With Hurricane Irma threatening Florida and the eastern coast of the U.S., it's up to you to be prepared. Prepare strong. Get an emergency supply kit with enough supplies for at least three days, make an emergency plan with your family and be informed about what might happen by following the tips below.


A hurricane is a tropical cyclone. Hurricanes can be catastrophic to coastlines and impact those living several hundred miles inland. The cyclone has potential to bring violent thunderstorms, waves, winds exceeding 155 mph and may further result in tornadoes. Power outage and flooding are secondary hazards that even those away from the direct path may encounter. Hurricanes can cause extensive damage through strong winds and high flood waters from rain and storm surges.


Stay informed and know your hurricane terminology:

Tropical depression -- A system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface
circulation and sustained winds not exceeding 38 mph.

Tropical storm -- A system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation
and sustained winds 39--73 mph.

Hurricane/Typhoon -- A system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and
sustained winds 74 mph or higher.

Storm surge -- A dome of water pushed ashore by winds during tropical storms and hurricanes. Storm surges can reach 25 feet high and be 50--1000 miles wide.

Storm tide -- A combination of storm surge with normal tide, increasing the amount of water
(e.g., a 15-foot storm surge with a 2-foot normal tide creates a 17-foot storm tide).

Hurricane/tropical storm watch -- Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible within 36
hours in specified areas. Stay tuned to radio or TV for further information.

Short-term watches and warnings-- Provide detailed information about specific threats
during hurricanes, such as flash flooding or tornadoes.

Understand the categorization of hurricanes:
Category 1 -- Winds 74--95 mph, storm surge 4--5 feet, minimal damage to plants and signs.

Category 2 -- Winds 96--110 mph, storm surge 6--8 feet, some flooding, minimal damage to mobile homes, roofs and small crafts.

Category 3 -- Winds 111--130 mph, storm surge 9--12 feet, extensive damage to small buildings and low-lying roofs.

Category 4 -- Winds 131--155 mph, storm surge 13--18 feet, extreme damage with destroyed roofs and mobile homes, downed trees, cut off roads and flooded homes.

Category 5 -- Winds exceeding 155 mph, storm surge over 18 feet, catastrophic damage destroying most buildings and vegetation, cutting off major roads and flooding homes.

Other tips:
Install permanent storm shutters or have supplies available to board up your windows.

Install straps or clips to secure your roof to the frame structure.

Make sure trees and bushes are well trimmed and maintained.

Keep enough fuel in your car's tank to evacuate. Expect a high volume of slow traffic.

Get an emergency kit, make and practice a Family emergency plan and evacuation procedure.

Develop a family communication procedure in case you are separated. Keep in mind phone
lines and cell phone towers may be down.


Listen to the radio or TV for more information and further instructions.

Secure your home by closing the storm shutters and bringing outdoor furniture inside.

Ensure a supply of water for household purposes.

Turn your refrigerator to the coldest setting and keep the door closed.

Turn off utilities if told to do so.

If you are told to evacuate:
NEVER ignore an evacuation order.

Follow the guidelines given regarding times and routes.

Take only essential items and your emergency kit.

Turn off gas, electricity and water if you have not already done so.

Disconnect all appliances.

Do not walk in moving water.

Do not drive in high water (as little as 6 inches can cause a stall or loss of control).

Follow the designated evacuation procedure and expect a high volume of traffic.

If you are NOT told to evacuate:
Stay tuned to emergency stations on radio or TV.

Listen for further instructions.

Stay away from windows and doors by seeking shelter in a bathroom or basement.

Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or a neighbor's home if your home is damaged.

Do not go outside until instructed to do so even if the storm is over and it seems calm. When
the eye of the hurricane passes, it is calm for a while but does not remain that way.

Once you are in a safe place, report to your command if you are military or government civilian
personnel or a member of the selective reserves.

If directed report your status using the Army Disaster Personnel Accountability and Assessment
System (ADPAAS) www.adpaas.army.mil.

Listen to news reports to make sure water supplies are not contaminated.

Avoid flood waters, standing or moving, as they may be contaminated or deeper than expected.

Beware of downed power lines.

Avoid any roads where flood waters have receded as they may have weakened and could
collapse under the weight of a car.

Be extremely cautious when entering buildings and homes, as there may be unseen damage.

Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by flood water, as it can contain sewage and
other contaminants.


Ready Army -- www.ready.army.mil

American Red Cross -- www.redcross.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/

Department of Homeland Security (Ready.gov) -- https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) -- https://www.fema.gov/hurricane-irma