A child is helped by a Red Cross member as he is disembarked from a navy ship in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta May 22, 2014. More than 100 children were among the 488 migrants rescued by the Italian Navy off the Sicilian coast on May 21, 2014 as the influx of arrivals continues, spurred on by the unrest in Syria and the unstable political situation in Libya. REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello (ITALY - Tags: SOCIETY IMMIGRATION POLITICS)
The American Red Cross has urged families and communities in the U.S. to review and renew their emergency kits and evacuation plans in light of the forthcoming hurricane season which officially starts on June 1st.
"The massive destruction hurricanes can bring has been seen in recent years from the Gulf Coast up through the Northeast," Richard Reed, senior vice president of Disaster Cycle Services, said in a statement.
"The good news is that you can take steps now to help keep your loved ones safe. Preparedness begins at home with our families around the dinner table creating an evacuation plan and discussing what to include in an emergency kit."
As the hurricane season approaches, the organisation said it is important to know and understand the difference between threat levels "Hurricane Watch" and "Hurricane Warning;"
- A Hurricane Watch is when conditions are a threat within 48 hours. It's then time to review your hurricane plans. Get ready to act if a warning is issued, and stay informed.
- A Hurricane Warning is when conditions are expected within 36 hours. It's then time to complete your storm preparations and leave the area if directed to do so by authorities.
Powerful and dangerous storms, hurricanes sometimes bring heavy rains that trigger off major flooding, along with destructive winds that uproot trees, topple power lines and damage homes. They also bring storm surges that travel several miles inland, demolishing everything in its path.
"If a hurricane strikes your community, it won't matter whether the predictions were for a season above or below average. What will matter is what you did to prepare yourself and those who count on you," Mr Reed said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on May 22 said the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season will have 8 to 13 named storms. From those, 3 to 6 could become hurricanes, with 1 to 2 of those possibly becoming a Category 3 or higher hurricane. While the hurricane outlook may be normal, it only takes one storm to deliver a devastating blow, the American Red Cross said.
The organization urged residents to start building their emergency kits and evacuation plans.
A 2013 survey by the American Red Cross and The Weather Channel found that few Americans living in coastal counties have taken necessary action to prepare for severe tropical storms and hurricanes. Only about half of those surveyed have an evacuation plan or a plan for communicating with family members if they are separated. Nearly a third of people did not have an emergency kit with supplies.