Hurricane Florence, now a Category 4 storm, is approaching the US East Coast with winds of more than 130 mph.
The hurricane is expected to make landfall in North or South Carolina sometime between Thursday and Friday, just after the average peak of the hurricane season. Many areas are at risk of devastating winds, rainfall, and flooding. Governors in Virginia and both Carolinas declared a state of emergency over the weekend, and the National Hurricane Center said Monday that the storm’s effects could reach as far as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Associated Press reported that Florence could hit some places with one or two feet of rain, causing severe flooding.
Forecasters are also tracking several other hurricanes in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Hurricane Isaac has wind speeds of about 75 mph, and the NHC expects it to weaken as it gets to the Caribbean. Hurricane Helene is gaining strength behind Isaac and has reached wind speeds of more than 105 mph. And just weeks after Hurricane Lane led to major floods in Hawaii, Hurricane Olivia could hit the state as early as Tuesday.
To help people prepare for hurricanes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Red Cross, and other organizations have created guidelines about what to do and pack if a storm is approaching. Here are some of their recommendations.
Establish an emergency plan with your family.
The Department of Homeland Security says all families should come up with an emergency plan well before a disaster occurs.
Families should prepare their emergency kits (keep scrolling for a list of items to put in them) and determine what they will do in case of a necessary evacuation. Agree upon a reunion point for your family, and pick someone out of state who your family members to contact if you get separated.
Write down important phone numbers and keep them in your wallet, as cell phones may die during a disaster.
Prepare an emergency kit ahead of time.
The Red Cross recommends that all emergency kits include enough water for at least three days, with a minimum of one gallon per person per day.
Other suggested items include non-perishable food, a flashlight, a weather radio, a first-aid kit, medications, copies of important documents, cash, an emergency blanket, and a map of the area.
Jarrod Murrieta, head of claims catastrophe response at Farmers Insurance, told Business Insider that he also recommends buying a filtration device that can remove bacteria and parasites from water.