A Hurricane Watch means a hurricane has become a threat to coastal areas. When a hurricane watch is issued, everyone in the area covered by the watch should listen for further advisories and be prepared to act promptly if a hurricane warning is issued.

A Hurricane Warning indicates that hurricane winds of 74 miles per hours or higher, or a combination of dangerously high water and very rough seas, are expected in a specific coastal area within 24 hours. Precautionary actions should begin immediately.

North Smithfield residents who have internet access can log onto the Town website for Emergency Management at www.nsema.org and get up to the minute situation reports as part of the new Emergency Information Network.

If a hurricane threatens and before local alarms are sounded, you should keep listening to your local radio station (WOON, WNRI or Cox Cable channel 17) for the latest Weather Service Advisories as well as special instructions issued by Emergency Management authorities.

Hurricanes can cause power or water supply failures. Check battery powered equipment such as flashlights and radios now. Your battery radio could be your only source of information in a hurricane emergency. Store a supply of drinking water in a clean bathtub , jugs and cooking utensils because your town’s water supply could be contaminated by the storm or not be able to supply water if the system water pumps do not have power to run them. If you have your own private well your water supply maybe cut off if you have an electric powered well pump.

Fill your car’s fuel tank to be prepared in case evacuation should occur. Also there is a possibility that service stations may be inoperable after a storm if power is cut off.

Board up windows or protect them with storm shutters or tape. Danger to small windows is mainly from wind driven debris. Larger windows may be broken by wind pressure. Although tape may not prevent flying debris from breaking windows, it will prevent flying glass from causing injury to persons in the home or outside.

Secure outdoor objects that might be blown around. .Garbage cans, garden tools, toys, signs, porch furniture and a number of other harmless items become weapons of destruction in hurricane winds. Boats should also be moored securely or moved to a designated area before the storm arrives.

Residents living near small streams or rivers should keep on guard for flash floods caused by high rainfall caused by the storm.

If local authorities or Emergency Management officials advise evacuation of your area, do so immediately. Keep your car radio on to listen to further instructions, such as the location of North Smithfield’s Emergency Shelters.

As you monitor Weather Service Advisories be alert for tornado watches or warnings. North Smithfield has already experienced a tornado in recent history, no area is exempt from this severe wind storm. Tornadoes are often caused by hurricanes. Should your area receive a tornado warning , seek inside shelter immediately , preferably below ground level.

Once the hurricane has reached your area, remain indoors. Blowing debris can injury you or kill. Travel is extremely dangerous. Be especially wary of the “eye” of the hurricane. If the storm center passes overhead, there will be a lull in the wind blowing lasting for a few minutes to half an hour or more. At the either side of the “eye” winds will increase rapidly to hurricane force and will come from the opposite direction.. If the hurricane forces you into public shelter stay there until the storm passes.

Keep tuned to your local radio or television station for advice and instructions from local government about emergency medical, food, housing and other forms of assistance.

Do not drive unless you must. Debris filled streets are dangerous and roads should be left clear for emergency vehicles. In addition your presence in the disaster areas might interfere with essential rescue and recovery work. Along the coast, soil may be washed from beneath the pavement, which could collapse under the weight of a car.

Avoid loose or dangling wires and report them immediately to your local power company, your local police or fire department. If you have a citizens band radio you can contact REACT on CB channel (9) to report any storm related problems you may encounter on the road or highway. Report any broken sewer or water mains to the water department. Be particularly careful to prevent fires as lowered water pressure may take away necessary water pressure from mains for fire fighting.

Be careful of water which may have become contaminated. If the power has been off, check refrigerated food for spoilage. A freezer should keep food in satisfactory condition up to 36 hours, provided it is kept closed. Wrapping the freezer in blankets will help insulate the cold.

Discuss this article with your children. Explain your family’s plans and preparations. Share your ideas with friends, neighbors and relatives. Hurricane preparedness is a job for everyone in the community . Additional information on hurricane preparedness is available at the public safety center or from your local Emergency Management Officials.

In North Smithfield you can call our office at (401) 767-2206 for info or help during a storm or after the storm. Visit our website at www.nsema.org for more information on-line. by Colonel Peter E. Branconnier Director Emergency Management/Homeland Security.