If you want to bet on the hurricane season, it doesn’t look like Las Vegas can help you out. At least, my quick look online didn’t find any stories about such an option. However, it’s an apt metaphor, yes? It’s a roll of the dice. It’s a flip of the coin. It’s the turn of a card. Whatever your choice, the likelihood of a hurricane landing on your doorstep is luck, fate or destiny and there’s nothing you can do to change that.
Ahhh, but can you stack the deck? Load the dice? Use a two-headed coin? No. If a hurricane is coming for you, there’s no amount of dice-rolling or slights-of-hand that will keep the storm away. But when it comes to hurricanes, you can improve your odds in one key area: damage and risk mitigation. There are things you can do to minimize the damage, keep your home and family safer and help you return to work more quickly and more focused: hurricane preparedness.
But even here, the odds are against you. The American Red Cross says the only 7% of Americans have taken steps towards basic preparedness. That leaves 93% of us rolling the dice that a storm won’t impact our home. Another survey tells us that 29% of Americans haven’t prepared because they believe emergency responders will provide the assistance they need. Even more — 60%, according to the same survey — feel emergency responders will reach them within the first 72 hours following a disaster. FEMA, on the other hand, expects every single one of us to be able to survive without assistance from the government (that includes emergency responders) for 72 hours.
It was a year ago tomorrow that Fred Rogers published an article here on YourWeatherBlog entitled, “Hurricane Season Starts Today and You’re Not Prepared” (read it here). What was true then is likely still true today. Habits are slow to change, especially when there’s no “immediate” need to change them (“why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?”).
Tomorrow is the first day of the 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season and I’ll echo what Fred said last year: you’re not prepared. But it’s not too late — there’s still time to prepare an emergency kit, create an emergency plan, learn your evacuation routes, determine your flood risk, get your house in order and to make sure your family knows what to do in an emergency. Remember, an emergency kit doesn’t have to be 100% complete by the first day of hurricane season. (Check out FEMA’s “Disaster Preparation Series” on YouTube here.)
The true battle, to me, is not weighing the odds about being in the path of a hurricane and then deciding your course of action from there. The true battle is overcoming the mindset that it will happen to somebody else in some other place. Realizing that you have a potential risk and then deciding your course is the only winning strategy — whether you’re planning a trip to Vegas or if you live on the Gulf Coast.
All that, and we haven’t even talked about the meteorology behind this upcoming tropical season. Suffice it to say, we expect another busy season. The last three years have all been unusually busy, racking up numbers well beyond what seasonal climatology would suggest. This trend is expected to continue this year. But the number of storms in the forecast shouldn’t be your determining factor, as both quiet seasons and active seasons can have landfalling hurricanes capable of forever changing your life. Prepare for the season — each season — as best you can, then let the chips fall as they may.
YourWeatherBlog has written about emergency kits and emergency plans before. You can read a few of those article here, here and here. You can also use our search engine with keyword “emergency” or “hurricane kit” and find a full list of all our posts on this subject.
“Be prepared, work hard and hope for a little luck. Recognize that the harder you work and the better prepared you are, the more luck you might have.” – Ed Bradly
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama