Hurricane Preparedness Guide

hurricaneEvery year starting on June 1st, hurricanes become a threat to many people living on the Eastern Seaboard and in the Gulf Coast of the United States. In recent years, hurricanes seem to have been increasing in severity, causing high winds, flooding and a large amount of damage. If you live in an area that is subjected to hurricanes, being prepared by taking the necessary steps beforehand can prevent property damage, injury, and can even potentially save your life.

As we have seen in recent history, most notably in places like New Orleans, not taking a hurricane seriously or ignoring the warnings can prove disastrous. Aside from evacuation, there are also several steps you can take to better prepare your home, belongings and even your family for hurricanes.

Even if you don’t live directly in a hurricane prone area, knowing what to do before, during and after one occurs is never a bad idea. For instance, what if one day you find yourself on vacation in an area where a hurricane is predicted to make landfall. Knowing what to do now can help protect you if you’re ever faced with one. Below we’ll go over the best, and most recommended ways to prepare for a hurricane.

Preparing for a Hurricane

Because Hurricanes can be tracked by weather experts, they will generally leave you with enough time to take the necessary steps to become prepared. Though the exact path is often not 100% accurate, it should be enough to provide you with ample warning that there is a possibility of one making landfall near your home. This is somewhat of a good thing, especially when compared to other natural disasters like earthquakes, which provide very little (if any) warning.

The main hazards of a hurricane that generally cause the most damage include high winds, flying debris, storm surges, flooding and heavy rain. As such, these are usually the most important aspects to prepare yourself for. In short, you will want to secure any outdoor furniture or other items that can become potential projectiles, board up your windows, make sure your trees are properly trimmed, and in some cases, secure your roof to the house frame.

Hurricane Watch vs Warning

Before we get into more details on preparation, we’ll go over some basic weather terminology so you can better understand warnings beforehand. Below we outline some common terminology related to hurricanes:

Hurricane Watch: A Hurricane Watch means that hurricane conditions are possible to affect your area within the next 48 hours. If you are given a hurricane watch, be sure to take the following steps:

  • Look over possible evacuation routes in preparation for a hurricane warning and listen to your local officials for updates.
  • Check your emergency kit, and add any additional items if necessary.

Hurricane Warning: A Hurricane Warning means that the hurricane is expected to affect your area within the n ext 36 hours. If you’re area is under a Hurricane Warning you should take the following steps:

  • If you have received an evacuation orders, follow them accordingly.
  • Check in with and update friends and family to let them know your plans.
  • Follow a hurricane preparedness checklist. We provide them below, or you can find them at ready.gov/hurricanes/.

What To Do 36 Hours Before A Hurricane

Below are the steps recommended by Ready.gov to follow 36-hours prior to a possible hurricane.

  • Turn on your TV or radio to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Make sure you have the following supplies:
    • flashlight
    • batteries
    • cash
    • first aid supplies
  • Plan how you will communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.
  • Review your evacuation plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.
  • Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.

What To Do 18-36 Hours Before A Hurricane

  • Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.
  • Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (ex. patio furniture, garbage cans etc)
    • Anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks)
    • Trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

What To Do 6-18 Hours Before A Hurricane

  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.

What To Do 6 Hours Before a Hurricane

  • If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.
  • Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.
  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

What To Do After A Hurricane

Once you have prepared for a hurricane and it has passed, there are several additional steps you should take to ensure your safety. Be sure to stay in-the-loop by listening to your local officials via television, radio, social media or whatever other methods you have available. You should also make sure to keep an eye out for downed power lines and potential hazards in your neighborhood, and don’t drive through flood waters.

You may also want to check in on your family to update them on your status, and see how they’re doing. Once you have done all of this, it can be a good idea to photograph and document any damage that occured to your home or other belongings. Below we have outlined these steps in more detail, as recommended by Ready.gov.

  • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
  • Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
  • Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
  • Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.
  • Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
  • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips

Now that you’re informed on what can be done before, during and after a hurricane we’ll offer a few helpful tips regarding preparedness that you can act on long before one occurs. To start off, you should learn the risk of a hurricane affecting the area you live or work. Having a general awareness of your risks and knowing what to do during a hurricane long before one ever occurs can go a long way. If hurricanes pose a risk to your location be sure to do the following:

  • Make a plan
  • Test your plan
  • Build an emergency kit
  • Review the information provided on this page
  • Look into getting flood and other related types of insurance

Hurricane Preparedness Kits

Having a hurricane preparedness kit can ensure that you always have supplies on hand to help you face the aftermath that is often associated with hurricanes. A hurricane kit will include an array of supplies like extra food, clean water, flashlights, survival gear and more to ensure that you are equipped with everything you need. These types of survival kits can be bought in complete packs, or pieced together from items in your home to fit your individual needs.