A hurricane can cause widespread devastation during and after it occurs. This guide designed to help you properly prepare for a hurricane and know how to protect yourself during and after one.
Planning and preparing can make a big difference in safety and resiliency in the wake of a hurricane. The ability to quickly recover following a hurricane requires a focus on preparedness, advance planning, and knowing what to do in the event of a hurricane.
How to Prepare for a Hurricane
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over ocean water and often move toward land. Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes.
The heavy winds of hurricanes can cause damage or destroy homes, buildings, and roads, as well as cause power, water, and gas outages. These effects can injure or kill people, disrupt transportation, and pollute drinking water. Hurricanes cause deaths and injuries primarily from drowning, wind, and wind-borne debris. The impact of hurricanes can extend from the coast to several hundred miles inland.
- Sign up for local alerts and warnings. Monitor local news and weather reports.
- Prepare to evacuate by testing your emergency communication plan(s), learning evacuation routes, having a place to stay, and packing a “go bag.”
- Stock emergency supplies.
- Protect your property by installing sewer backflow valves, anchoring fuel tanks, reviewing insurance policies, and cataloging belongings.
- Collect and safeguard critical financial, medical, educational, and legal documents and records.
Emergency Home Readiness Checklist
- Be prepared to cover all of your home’s windows by installing permanent storm shutters or plan to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
Note: Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Reduce roof damage by installing straps or additional clips to fasten your roof to the frame structure.
- Trim trees and shrubs so they are more wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Reinforce your garage doors with a counterbalancing kit.
- Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
- If you have a boat, determine how and where to secure it.
- Follow guidance from local authorities.
- If advised to evacuate, grab your “go bag” and leave immediately.
- For protection from high winds, stay away from windows and seek shelter on the lowest level in an interior room.
- Move to higher ground if there is flooding or a flood warning.
- Turn Around Don’t Drown. Never walk or drive on flooded roads or through the water.
- Call 9-1-1 if you are in life-threatening danger.
If a Hurricane is Coming
- Shut off utilities and propane tanks
- Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and leave the doors closed.
- Fill a tub with water.
- Unplug appliances and electronics.
- Listen closely to advise from local and state emergency officials.
- Fuel and service vehicles.
- Notify neighbors and a family member outside of the warned area of your evacuation plans.
- Stay with friends, relatives or at an inland hotel or as a last resort go to a designated public shelter outside of the flood zone.
- Leave mobile homes in any case.
- Return to the area only after authorities say it is safe to do so. Do not enter damaged buildings until they are inspected by qualified professionals.
- Never walk or drive on flooded roads or through floodwaters.
- Look out for downed or unstable trees, poles, and power lines.
- Do not remove heavy debris by yourself. Wear gloves and sturdy, thick-soled shoes to protect your hands and feet.
- Do not drink tap water unless authorities say it is safe.
- Continue listening to an NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- Stay out of any building that has water around it.
- Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.
- Use flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
- Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls
Stay informed: Emergency Notifications
You can receive alerts and warnings directly from the National Weather Service for all hazards with an NOAA Weather Radio (NWR). Some radio receivers are designed to work with external notification devices for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Sign up for emergency alerts and notifications that your community may offer.
Take Action to Protect your Property Against Wind and Water Damage
Planning and preparing before a hurricane strikes can help you manage the impact of high winds and floodwaters. Take the steps outlined below to keep you and your family safe while protecting your home and property. If you are a renter, talk with your landlord or property manager about the steps you can take together to protect yourself, your family, your home, and your property.
The best way to reduce the risk of damage to a structure from hurricane winds is to reinforce or strengthen the building including doors, windows, walls, and roofs. The best way to protect yourself is to consider either constructing a safe room or a storm shelter that meets ICC 500 criteria.
Bring loose, lightweight objects (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans, and bicycles) inside; anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., gas grills and propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on buildings.
There are steps that you or your property owner can take now to make your home or business more flood-resistant. Some improvements are simple and inexpensive; others require more of an investment.
As your budget allows, take these steps to protect your property from flood damage and manage your risks.
- Keep gutters and drains free of debris.
- Install a water alarm and sump pumps with battery backup.
- Install “check valves” in sewer lines to prevent floodwater from backing up into your drains.
- Stockpile emergency protective materials such as plywood, plastic sheeting, and sandbags.
- Elevate the heating system (furnace), water heater, and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.
- Waterproof the basement.
- In areas with repetitive flooding, consider elevating the building.
Most property insurance policies do not cover flood losses, so you will need to purchase separate flood insurance if your property is at risk for flooding. Talk to your insurance agent about buying flood insurance.
Flood insurance is available for homeowners, renters, and business owners through the National Flood Insurance Program in participating communities. Keep in mind that a policy purchased today will take 30 days to go into effect, so act now!
Deciding to Stay or Go
If authorities advise or order you to evacuate, grab your “go bag” and leave immediately. If you are not in a mandatory evacuation zone, you may still decide to leave the area, you may need to move to higher ground, or you may choose to stay in your home. If you decide to stay home, remember that even if the high winds and floodwaters do not reach your home, you may lose power and water, and you may not be able to leave your home for several days if the roads are impassable.
If you are in an area that is flooding (e.g., on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway), move to a location on higher ground before floodwaters reach you.
Stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors. If you are in a temporary structure, safely move to a sturdy building and go to a windowless room on the lowest level that is not likely to flood.
Never use a generator, gasoline-powered equipment, and tools, grill, camp stove, or charcoal-burning device inside or in any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outside and at least 20 feet from doors, windows, and vents.
Post-Disaster Tips to Stay Safe
If you’ve evacuated the area, wait for public officials to say it is safe before returning. Each year, a significant number of people are injured or killed while cleaning up after a hurricane. As you begin cleanup, keep these safety tips in mind:
Do not wade in floodwaters, which can contain dangerous debris like broken glass, metal, dead animals, sewage, gasoline, oil, and downed power lines.
Do not enter a building until it has been inspected for damage to the electrical system, gas lines, septic systems, and water lines or wells. Wear appropriate protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, rubber boots, and masks to protect you from debris and airborne particles, e.g., mold and dust.
Do not use electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. Protect your pet following a hurricane.
Throw out any food including canned items that were not maintained at a proper temperature or have been exposed to floodwaters. Do not eat food from a flooded garden. When in doubt, throw it out.
Avoid drinking tap water until you know it is safe. If uncertain, boil or purify it first.
Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage, bacteria, and chemicals.
Five Steps for Post-Hurricane Clean-Up
Use appropriate personal protective equipment to avoid injury from possible exposure to mold and bacteria including gloves, goggles, rubber boots, and N95 masks.
By opening all doors and windows whenever you are present. Leave as many windows open when you are not present as security concerns allow.
Move out saturated porous materials such as mattresses or upholstered items, especially those with visible fungal growth. Tear out flooring, paneling, drywall, insulation, and electrical outlets saturated by floodwater.
Clean out and disinfect any remaining debris and mud. Dry out the building and any remaining contents.
Here is the checklist you should take note when preparing your family for a hurricane:
- Drinking water (one gallon per person per day for 14 days)
- Water for cooking and hygiene (one gallon per person per day)
- Water for pets
- Non-perishable packaged or canned food tolast14 days
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
- Canned or boxed juice
- Canned or boxed milk
- Bread, crackers, and cookies
- Special food for babies and the elderly
- Powdered coffee or tea
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Granola bars
- Trail mix
- Cooler for ice and food storage
- Flashlights with extra batteries or hand-crank
- Car charger for cell phones
- Battery operated digital TV with car charger adapter
- Grill with extra propane, charcoal or Sterno
- Waterproof matches
- Paper plates, bowls, and cups
- Napkins, paper towels, and toilet paper
- Water purification tablets
- Outdoor extension cords
- Plastic eating utensils
- Cleaning supplies
- Work gloves
- Duct tape
- Waterproof tarps
- Plastic sheeting
- Basic tool kit
- Moist towelettes
- Two week supply of prescription drugs
- Two week supply of vitamins
- Over the counter pain reliever
- Toiletries and hygiene items
- First Aid Kit
- Mosquito repellent
- Plastic garbage bags
- Antibacterial hand soap
For your pets
- Non-perishable food
- Documentation and license
- Crate or pet carrier
Pack your Hurricane Survival Kit Now
Two-thirds of hurricanes that have hit land struck the Gulf Coast. It’s not a matter of if you’re going to need it, but when. Thus, it is highly recommended that you include these items in your survival kit.
Get it all together now and keep it all together in one safe place. Hurricane season is here. Are you now ready?
EcoBlueLife.com is a replacement water and air filter company located in the United States. The views and opinions contained herein are solely those of the original author and do not represent Eco Blue Life or its affiliates. This article was originally published on TheBerkey.com