Preparing for a Hurricane
A Hurricane is a severe rapidly rotating tropical storm occurring in the North Atlantic Ocean. These storms typically form over large open bodies of warm water and contain heavy rainfall, high winds and can spawn tornadoes once over land. Hurricane hazards can also affect coastlines, including rip currents, storm surges and inland flooding. They can cause heavy damage and devastation in and around their path.
Check out the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale which is used to rate hurricanes from 1 to 5 based on sustained wind speed. This will give you an estimate on the potential for property damage. Storms above a category 3 are considered major hurricanes because of their significant damage and potential loss of life.
When you know the hurricane is coming
Hurricanes give you time to prepare before they get near land. Stay tuned to local radio and TV stations, the The Weather Channel and the National Hurricane Center for risk information in your area. Know if you live in an evacuation area and make sure you know your evacuation route(s) before the storm approaches. Assess your risks for damage from storm surges, flooding and wind, and plan your evacuation if necessary. Have a meeting place, or designated phone contact if separated.
- Have a location away from home setup. Be sure to inform family/friends if you are leaving your home.
- Check to see if there are local shelters setup for the storm event.
- Check on your elderly or disabled neighbors and see if they need any assistance.
- Have a plan for your pets. Check with hotels or friends if it is ok to bring your pets.
- Have supplies ready to board up your windows and doors.
- Secure any loose outdoor furniture and items.
- Make sure your vehicle’s gas tank is full. Many stations may be closed if you wait for the evacuation order.
- Prepare your boat and be aware of marine safety information.
- Store gasoline for your generator. Power outages may occur for several days and even weeks.
- Keep an ice chest on hand with ice or freezer packs to keep medications and other needs cold.
- Turn off propane tanks and unplug any small appliances.
Basic supplies should be prepared in case you need to leave, or are planning to stay in your home as the storm passes. Chances are the power will be out as well as other services for several days or longer.
- Weather radio with extra batteries
- At minimum a 3-day supply of bottled water and non-perishable foods. Note: An average person needs about one gallon of water per day. Be sure you have enough on hand.
- Make sure that you have a BBQ and lots of charcoal or propane, so you can cook and heat foods for meals.
- Change of clothing
- Cash on hand – ATMs and banks may be closed or without power once the storm approaches.
- Important documents, insurance papers for home/business/property/vehicles.
- Important phone numbers and contacts such as utilities, hospitals, law enforcement and fire, government numbers, TV and radio stations, your insurance agent and the American Red Cross.
- Any medications
- First Aid Kit
- Flashlights, lanterns, emergency candles and batteries for at least 3 days
Be ready when an evacuation is called for your area. Roads and highways will be crowded so leave early if possible. Make sure you have a full tank of gas before hitting the road.
Taking Shelter during a Hurricane
If you decide to not evacuate, make sure you are prepared to ride out the storm. Stay off the streets and either stay at home or move to a designated shelter. STAY AWAY from windows and doors. Even lower category storms can toss debris around that could break through a glass window. STAY INDOORS until the storm is over. Do not use your generator until after the storm has passed. Even minor hurricanes can produce torrential rainfall, high wind and tornadoes when they make landfall. Once on land these storms can travel for hundreds of miles. Stay in tune with your local radio station and be aware of changing conditions for the possibility of flooding and tornadoes.
Secure your pets before the storm approaches. Pets can become panicked during the storm, so a small interior room with a blanket can comfort them. If you have a pet carrier, make sure you secure the carrier in a safe place, give your pet a blanket or familiar toy inside the carrier to help keep them calm. Make sure they have fresh water available. When the calm “eye” of the storm passes, it may seem like the storm is over, but after the eye passes, the winds will change direction and quickly return to hurricane force again. Stay tuned to local radio for information. Heavy rainfall and flooding can still occur even after the hurricane has passed. Use the telephone only in case of emergency.
- Always listen to evacuation information and evacuate as directed, there may be no one around to help once the storm arrives.
- Phone lines may not be working, or the storm is too dangerous to risk emergency responders going out during the height of the storm.
- Have your emergency kit ready at all times.
- Always use a flashlight or battery operated lanterns during the storm if the power is out.
- If flooding is occurring, get to higher ground or a second level of your home, but make sure you have an escape route.
- Do NOT use any electrical appliances, outlets, switches, etc. if flooding is occurring.
- Only return home when emergency officials have deemed it safe to return and roads are passable.
- When returning to a storm damage area, make sure you have the necessary documents to prove you own a home, property or business in that area, or the authorities may not let you through.