The 2009 Hurricane season began June 1 and lasts through Nov. 30 and forecasters at Colorado State University have predicted that 12 named tropical storms will form in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, with six developing into hurricanes and two becoming major hurricanes with winds faster than 110 mph.

Federal, state and local emergency managers agree that now is the time to prepare.

Ready Army means prepare, plan and stay informed

The Ready Army Web site encourages Soldiers and their Families to prepare for disasters ahead of time, make and practice a family emergency plan and stay informed about threats, hazards or events that can trigger emergency situations.

Get a kit, make a plan, be informed

Ready Army is the Army Emergency Management Program's communication campaign to increase the resilience of the Army community by creating a culture of preparedness for our Soldiers, civilians, contractors and their families to save lives and strengthen the nation.

Get a kit

To prepare for an emergency, assemble one or more emergency kits that include enough supplies to meet the family's essential needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical aid) for at least three days. Keep a kit prepared at home and consider having kits in the car and at work. These kits can be useful whether evacuating or sheltering-in-place.

Suggested basic items:

- Water: at least one gallon per person per day for three days.
- Food: nonperishable food for at least three days; consider items that do not require cooking and that will stay fresh such as energy bars, freeze dried, dehydrated and canned foods.
- Formula and diapers for infants.
- Pet foods, water, documents and other supplies.
- Manual can opener
- Flashlight, NOAA battery-powered weather radio, battery-powered cell phone charger and extra batteries of hand-crank powered devices.
- First aid kit with dust masks, rated to at least N95, disinfectant and garbage bags.
- Sanitation supplies such as moist towelettes, disinfectant and garbage bags.
- Important documents in watertight packaging.
- Family emergency plan, local maps, command reporting information.

Make a plan

Make and practice a family emergency plan. Consider the range of potential emergencies and all the places you and your family might be. Some emergencies require different responses than others but a family communications procedure will be helpful in any case.

When making a plan, consider the five W's:

- Who: Gather input from all family members to consider all possibilities and make them more likely to remember important steps when an emergency happens. Choose a contact person, a family member or friend living somewhere else whom everyone can contact if an emergency strikes when you are separated.

- What: Plan for all hazards that could affect your family, considering potential hazards and weather patterns in your region. Think through each possible emergency situation and determine how your family should respond.

- Where: Think about all the places you and your family may be throughout the day, such as home, office, school and in transit. Establish meeting places and discuss situations to use them.

- When: Because emergencies can happen at any time, make your family emergency plan immediately. Review the plan annually and whenever there are major changes in your family situation schedule or activities.

- Why: Emergencies can be scary. By establishing and practicing a family emergency plan, you and your family are more likely to find each other quickly and help one another get through the emergency situation safely and with less worry.

Practice your plan

Making an emergency plan is just the first step; you should practice it at least twice a year. Describe to family members a hypothetical event and tell them to follow the family emergency plan.

Practice gathering your emergency kit and important documents, communicating with one another and meeting at a designated place. Afterward, discuss the actions you took and how the plan would change in a different type of emergency.

Be informed

Emergency situations come in many forms. Give consideration to hazards likely to affect your local area, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes or severe winter weather. Hazards such as power outages or disease outbreaks can happen at any time. Keep in mind that most of what you address in your family emergency plan or put in your emergency kits will be useful regardless of the hazard.

Notification and emergency actions

You should understand the local mass warning systems and when notified be prepared to evacuate, move to a shelter or designated safe haven or shelter-in-place.

Each year, averages of 11 tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Many of these remain over the ocean and never impact the U.S. coastline. In an average, 3-year period, roughly five hurricanes strike the U.S. coastline anywhere from Texas to Maine. Of these, two are typically "major" or "intense" hurricanes - Category 3 or higher.

Estimated hurricane damages by strength

In general, wind speed, precipitation, duration, and other factors can be expected to inflict certain amounts of damage to the environment and structures according to the strength of the hurricane.

Category 1 Hurricane, winds 74 to 95 mph
- No real damage to buildings.
- Damage to unanchored mobile homes.
- Some damage to poorly constructed signs.
- Some coastal flooding and minor pier damage.
Examples: Irene 1999 and Allison 1995.

Category 2 Hurricane, winds 96 to 110 mph:
- Some damage to building roofs, doors and windows. Considerable damage to mobile homes.
- Flooding damages piers and small craft in unprotected moorings may break their moorings.
- Some trees blown down.
Examples: Bonnie 1998, Georges 1998 and Gloria 1985.

Category 3 Hurricane, winds 111 to 130 mph
- Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings.
- Large trees blown down.
- Mobile homes and poorly built signs destroyed.
- Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by floating debris.
- Terrain may be flooded well inland.
Examples: Keith 2000, Fran 1996, Opal 1995, Alicia 1983 and Betsy 1965.

Category 4 Hurricane, winds 131 to 155 mph
- More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences.
- Major erosion of beach areas.
- Terrain may be flooded well inland.
Examples: Hugo 1989 and Donna 1960

Category 5 Hurricane, winds 156 mph and higher
- Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings.
- Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away.
- Flooding causes major damage to lower floors of all structures near the shoreline.
- Massive evacuation of residential areas may be required.
Examples: Andrew 1992, Camille 1969 and Labor Day 1935.

2009 Hurricane names

The names assigned for the Atlantic 2009 hurricane season are Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Joaquin, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor and Wanda.

The names assigned for the 2009 Pacific hurricane season are Andres, Blanca, Carlos, Dolores, Enrique, Felicia, Guillermo, Hilda, Ignacio, Jimena, Kevin, Linda, Marty, Nora, Olaf, Patricia, Rick, Sandra, Terry, Vivian, Waldo, Xina, York and Zelda.

(This information about Hurricane Preparedness was compiled from the Assistant Chief of Staff for Information Management's Ready Army Web site and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hurricane Center.)