(BIVN) – Today marks the start of the Central Pacific Hurricane Season, and officials are asking residents of Hawaiʻi to take action now in order to be more prepared.
The Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency and Hawaiian Electric shared media releases on Tuesday, offering tips.
The Eastern Pacific region is already active. Tropical Storm Blanca recently formed and is over 500 miles south southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. The storm is expected to weaken during the next few days.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in May announced its outlook for the Central Pacific Hurricane Season, predicting near- or below-normal tropical cyclone activity this season. That equates to about 2 to 5 tropical cyclones between June 1, through November 30, 2021. The outlook is not a forecast of hurricane landfalls, officials say.
Last year, Hawaiʻi was threatened by the approach of Hurricane Douglas, which passed dangerously close to the entire state. The storm brought heavy rains and strong winds to some areas. Damage was minimal and no lives were lost, officials say.
“Each year is a new opportunity to prepare ourselves for the many hazards we face in Hawai`i. Actions we take with our family and friends can help reduce the impacts that will come during this hurricane season,” Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) Administrator Luke Meyers, said.
HI-EMA recommended residents take these six actions:
Action 1: Know your hazards where you live, work, and play.
Are there trees, large loose objects, or other features that can blow over, causing damage to your property or injuring a person? Are there areas that collect water or are prone to flooding or sliding? Take a moment to look around and know where and what the hazards are including checking to ensure your gas pipes are in good condition and that any potential fire hazards are cleared from the space around your home.
Action 2: Sign up for county alerts.
Get up-to-date emergency alerts in your county. More information about alert sign-ups can be found here.
Action 3: Develop a plan for you and your family.
Set aside some time to gather with your family and create or go over your emergency family plan. Be sure the plan includes things like a safe and accessible meeting place if you need to reunite, the location of your nearest shelter or hurricane refuge area if you need to evacuate, and a communications plan for how you will let other family members know you are safe. And donʻt forget to be mindful of your family members, pets, and neighbors who may need assistance.
Action 4: Prepare an emergency kit.
A good emergency kit will include supplies needed to be on your own for at least two weeks, including the following items.
• Water – One gallon per person, per day
• Non-perishable food
• A manual can opener
• First aid kit
• Medications and/or special medical equipment
• A battery-operated or crank radio
• Extra batteries
• Warm clothes and sturdy shoes
• Personal hygiene items
• Toilet paper
• Pets supplies
• A fire extinguisher
• ID and important documents, sealed in water proof plastic bag
• Masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer
• Pet supplies
• Comfort and entertainment items
• Charging cords for personal electronic devices
In addition to a 14-day emergency kit, have a go-bag ready for work and your vehicle, including car tools.
Always remember to store potentially dangerous items such as gas or propane tanks in a safe, dry place out of reach of children.
Action 5: Consider flood and/or hurricane insurance.
We canʻt control storms, but we can have a little more peace of mind about our property by purchasing insurance.
The following is a public service announcement from Meyers regarding flood insurance.
“Planning for hurricane season can be stressful, but preparing now can keep your family and your home safe. This is the season of high winds and heavy rains, and the damage caused by just an inch of flood water in your home will cost a lot to fix. Flood insurance will help you repair that damage faster. Protect yourself and your family. Visit floodsmart.gov/hawaii today.”
Action 6: Take steps to strengthen your home against severe weather.
Assess and consider a hurricane retrofit or hurricane clips. Protecting your property from the damaging effects of hurricane-force winds and other natural hazards is a proactive way to keep you safer and more resilient. If your home is safe and sound after a tropical storm system, this will aid in response and recovery efforts for you, your ʻohana, and your neighbors.
“As we continue as a whole community to battle COVID-19 in addition to the 2021 hurricane season, it is important take time to refresh mentally, and be ready for whatever impacts might come our way. A collection of individual decisions to be better prepared will increase the resiliency of Hawai`i and make a safer place for us to live, work, and play,” Meyers said.
Hawaiian Electric said its crews have been working year-round to harden the company’s five island grids so they are better able to withstand the effects of powerful storms.
On Hawaiʻi island, for example, the utility says it upgraded and relocated a 10-mile sub-transmission line in the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park area. “The work was part of a collaboration to close a 22-mile gap in the island’s fiber optic loop and ensure a stable communications network for internet and wireless customers, including first responders and schools,” Hawaiian Electric said.
The utility also spent $18 million last year to clear trees and vegetation from around power lines and equipment, “resulting in fewer and briefer outages during storms”.
Hawaiian Electric says residents should develop their own emergency plans and consider these tips:
- Gather emergency supplies, such as a battery-powered radio, flashlights, lanterns and batteries. Be prepared to monitor communications over emergency broadcast radio stations.
- Store enough water, non-perishable food, medicine and personal hygiene supplies for your family members and pets to last at least 14 days.
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electric appliances and equipment during a storm or a power outage. When power comes back and is stable, plug in the equipment one at a time.
- Shut off your electricity at the main breaker or switch if you need to evacuate.
- Consider having a backup generator if you are dependent on an electrically powered life support system. Or, make plans to go to an alternate location where electricity will be available. Be prepared to take your medical equipment and medications with you.
- If your business or residence is equipped with a backup generator, learn how to properly operate the device to avoid causing damage or injury.
- Prepare a list of emergency contacts including phone numbers for insurance agents, vendors, physicians, or any other important individuals.
- If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and dangerous. Stay away from downed power lines – at least 30 feet or more (at least two car lengths).
- For updates and alerts, follow Hawaiian Electric on Twitter or via our free mobile app (available on Apple App and Google Play stores).