June 1st officially kicks off hurricane season in Alabama. The Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. Forecasters at National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predict this will be another year with above-average hurricane activity. They are forecasting three to six severe hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or higher.
Planning ahead, before a hurricane hits, can protect you and your loved ones. Ask yourself these five questions to find out if you are ready for hurricane season:
Are you setup with emergency alerts and warnings?
Check the settings on your mobile phone to see if you are set up to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). These alerts can inform you about emergencies such as tornadoes, evacuation orders, and Amber alerts. Cell phone service providers do not charge for these alerts, but some phones require you to enable them manually.
Sign up for Alabama Power outage alerts to receive information about power outages that may affect your location during a storm. You may also want to bookmark Alabama Power's outage map that provides live updates and estimated times for power restoration.
Developing an evacuation plan is a smart way to ensure you can leave quickly during an emergency. Plan at least two routes from your home to a safe location, such as a friend or family member's home that isn't in an evacuation zone. If you have pets, be sure to include them in your evacuation and shelter plan. Most public emergency shelters do not permit pets.
Do you have a communication plan for your household?
Do your children, people with disabilities under your care and other loved ones know your phone number and where to meet up if you get separated during an emergency? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends writing the phone numbers and email addresses of everyone in your home on a wallet-sized card, along with the addresses of important locations such as medical facilities, doctors and schools. Everyone in your family, especially children and people with disabilities, should have one of these cards in their wallet, purse or backpack. This simple precaution can help keep you and your family members connected during a storm. Check out FEMA's emergency communication checklist for more tips!
Have you updated your emergency preparedness kit?
A hurricane can leave your home without power for extended periods. Creating an emergency preparedness kit can ensure you and your family have enough food, water and supplies to get you through the storm. The most important supplies to include in your storm kit are flashlights, water, medicine, nonperishable food, batteries and a hand-cranked or battery-powered weather radio. Be sure to charge cell phones and other devices before the storm arrives.
Will your insured cover flood or hurricane damage?
Standard homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies don't cover flood damage. Flood insurance is a separate policy, and includes a 30-day waiting period before it takes effect. If you aren't sure whether you have flood insurance, call your insurance company or agent to find out.
We hope these five questions have prompted you to develop a thorough emergency plan for hurricane season. For more information about how to be prepared for severe weather, visit Alabama Power's Storm Center at AlabamaPower.com/storm.