Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Winds can exceed 155 miles per hour. Hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes and microbursts, create storm surges along the coast, and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.

Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on their wind speed, central pressure, and damage potential. Category Three and higher hurricanes are considered major hurricanes, though Categories One and Two are still extremely dangerous and warrant your full attention. Hurricanes can produce widespread torrential rains. Floods are the deadly and destructive result. Slow moving storms and tropical storms moving into mountainous regions tend to produce especially heavy rain.

Excessive rain can trigger landslides or mud slides, especially in mountainous regions. Flash flooding can occur due to intense rainfall. Flooding on rivers and streams may persist for several days or more after the storm. If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

• Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.

• Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.

• Turn off propane tanks.

• Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.

• Moor your boat if time permits.

• Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water. You should evacuate under the following conditions:

• If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.

• If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.

• If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.

• If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.

• If you feel you are in danger. If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:

• Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.

• Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.

• Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm—winds will pick up again.

• Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.

• Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

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