In this article, we’ll discuss how to prepare for a hurricane:
- Before it hits
- What to do during
- And what to do after
The following are things you should be considering and implementing before the hurricane season arrives.
The first and most thing to do is plan ahead. 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. Start by signing up for local text and email alerts warning when a storm is coming and monitor local news and weather reports so you’re informed at all times. Next, learn the locations of local shelters where you can go to if things get bad during a storm and your home is no longer safe. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Pick a place you can meet in case you get separated from your family and have a phone number, like a friend or family member, everyone can call in the event you get separated.
Things to get now
- Let’s start with emergency supplies
- How to prepare your home
- Get flood insurance for your home. Be sure to discuss with your agent what is covered in the event your home gets flooded.
- Film/photograph everything in your house for insurance purposes and keep this information backed up in an off-site cloud backup like Dropbox.
- Have ⅝” Marine plywood already cut and stored away for each window of your home unless you have Hurricane shutters.
- Have a safe room designated and set up where you can go if you shelter in place during a hurricane.
- Consider installing “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.
- Additional considerations
- If you have family members with special needs, check with local officials to see what services are available if the power goes down.
- Learn how to shut off electricity, gas, and water.
- Keep your important documents in a central location. Prior to a storm hitting, put your important documents like passports, car titles, or other important financial, medical, educational, and legal documents in ziplock bags to prevent water damage.
- Practice good hygiene. Once a storm hits, you’ll need to maintain this to ensure diseases and illnesses do not impact your family.
- Also, consider COMFORT & PRICELESS ITEMS. You may be away from your home for an extended period and your property may be damaged. Prepare items that are irreplaceable or may provide comfort to your family, especially your children. Ask yourself, “What would I need for myself and my family if a hurricane struck?” Add any of these specific items to your Hurricane Preparedness Checklist.
What to do if a hurricane is approaching within a few days
- Bring in anything that could be tossed around by the wind in your yard.
- Close and board up all windows and doors with ⅝” Marine plywood unless you have Hurricane shutters.
- Clear rain gutters and downspouts. Clean trees and shrubs to remove limbs or branches that could be blown away.
- Put your refrigerator in the coldest setting. Fill up your freezer with water bottles and other devices to fill up your refrigerator with frozen items.
- Fill your car’s gas tank and fill up any gas cans you have. Also keep snacks, bottled water, first aid kit, flashlights, flares, jumper cables and other tools, a wool blanket, and a change of clothes in your vehicle in the event you have to move quickly. Also, if you have pets, be sure to have food on hand for them if you have to evacuate.
- If you live on a high rise on floors 1 or 2, make plans to seek refuge with neighbors on floors 3 to 10. Those living above the 10th floor should evacuate. Mobile home dwellers should also seek alternative shelter.
- Those living on a floodplain, near a river, or near an inland riverway should plan on leaving their home before the storm hits as they are a prime candidate for being flooded. You stand a high chance of being stranded or worse, having a high chance of drowning.
Shortly before the hurricane hits
- Fill your bathtub with water. Items like a WaterBOB can come in handy.
- Turn off and unplug sensitive electronic devices. Switch the main power breakers off before the storm hits.
- Turn off propane tanks and the gas line running into your home.
- Monitor your NOAA radio and follow guidelines from local authorities. If you’re advised to evacuate, grab your “go bag” and leave immediately. If you decide to stay, remember the roads leading to your home may be impassable, you may lose power and you may be stranded for a few days.
During the storm
- Stay away from windows and glass doors.
- Go to your home’s lowest level and stay in an interior room, safe room, or closet. Monitor your NOAA radio during this time.
- Have a mattress or pillow to protect your head.
- Don’t leave your safe place until local officials tell you it’s ok to do so.
- If there’s flooding, move to higher ground. Under no circumstances drive your vehicle or walk through flooded roads or through the water. Moving water while it may not look deep can quickly sweep your vehicle away. Remember the phrase, “Turn around, don’t drown.”
After the storm
- If you lose electricity, keep your circuit breakers off until power is restored. Check for any frayed wires on your house before turning the power back on. If you see any, call the power company.
- If you return to your house, do not enter your house if floodwaters still remain around the structure.
- If you see downed power lines, structural damage, or smell gas, do not enter your home until you contact a professional or structural engineer. Each year, a significant number of people are injured or killed while cleaning up after a hurricane.
- 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.
- Do not drink tap water unless local authorities say it is safe to drink. Have a simple water filter on hand to filter your water and boil it if you’re not sure. 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.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage, bacteria, and chemicals.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August and late October. The Eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30. If you’ve prepared in advance, while enduring a hurricane will be difficult, you won’t be caught off guard when the hurricane season approaches. If you enjoyed this article, please share on social media, and always, please provide feedback in the comment section below as I learn so much from the Prepper community.
As always, be safe out there.