In this Hurricane Guide, we compiled some of the best expert-approved strategies to prepare for hurricane season, as well as what you should do to stay safe if a hurricane is headed towards our area. Here’s what you need to know:
Making Sure You’re Ready
The best way to weather hurricane season or an actual hurricane successfully is to have preparations done ahead of time. That way, you’ll be ready to take the proper actions if a hurricane does hit.
- Have a plan. Education and communication are key to staying safe during a hurricane. Make sure your family has a plan of what to do in the event of a hurricane warning, including how to communicate with one another, where to meet up and other key details. If your community has a storm shelter or a hurricane evacuation route, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with those details so that you can take assertive action to keep your family safe if needed.
- Gather supplies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’ll want to have at least a three-day supply of food, water, medications and other important items on hand in case you end up stuck at home for an extended period. Focus on non-perishable items that require minimal preparation in case the power goes out, as well as at least a gallon of drinking water per day for each person and pet in the home. In addition, make sure you have all medications, first aid supplies and other important items like flashlights and batteries.
- Consider home improvements. Simple steps like cleaning out your drains and gutters and bringing your outdoor furniture into the garage or indoors can help minimize damage if a hurricane strikes. Also make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector with a fresh battery.
- There are also more extensive updates that can make your home even more prepared for a hurricane, such as installing hurricane shutters or plywood over windows, or upgrading your home with stronger, more wind-resistant materials. Investing in a backup generator or a solar system with a battery backup are other potential upgrades that can keep your house’s electricity running if the power goes out.
- Have your car ready to go. Evacuation is always a possibility before a hurricane, so you’ll want to have your vehicle ready to roll if you get the call. This includes a full tank of gas, an emergency kit and food, water, device chargers and other supplies so that you can “grab and go” if you need to.
- Take care of others. If you have other friends or loved ones in your area, particularly seniors who may need assistance, it’s always a good idea to reach out to them and ask if they need help in their preparations. Make sure to include them in your plans if they are unable to take care of themselves. Also, be sure to have a plan for your pets during the hurricane.
If a Hurricane Hits
If a hurricane is approaching your area, it’s understandable for anxiety to increase. Being prepared and having a plan beforehand, of course, can go a long way towards decreasing that anxiety. This is the time to stay tuned to the news and follow the instructions of local officials for next steps.
- Understanding the advisories. According to the National Weather Service, both hurricane watches and warnings are worthy of your attention, but warnings are much more serious and may require action on your part. A hurricane watch is typically issued 48 hours before a storm might reach your area, while a hurricane warning comes 36 hours before a storm is expected to reach an area. Warnings are often accompanied by recommendations for the public, such as evacuating or sheltering in place.
- Follow your officials’ instructions. It’s understandable to be hesitant about evacuating your home and property during a storm, but as the CDC explains, this isn’t a decision that local officials take lightly. Even the strongest, most well-built homes can sustain damage and pose risks during strong hurricanes, so be sure to follow your officials’ advice. You also may be directed to shelter in place during a hurricane.
- If you evacuate. In the event of an evacuation, make sure to gather everything that you prepared for your car before you hit the road. Unplug appliances and turn off the electricity, water and gas if you have time. There may be a lot of traffic but avoid the urge to take a shortcut or a route other than the recommended one. It’s quite possible that they may be blocked or flooded in the event of a storm.
- If you stay home. For those that are told to stay home and shelter in place, good preparation will ensure that you have what you need to weather the storm. Be sure to stay inside, stay away from windows and stay tuned to the radio, TV or internet for local updates. Be prepared to leave quickly if the news changes.
Weathering the Storm
If you’ve ever experienced a hurricane yourself, then you know it can be a scary and challenging experience for everyone involved. But you can go a long way towards minimizing risk and ensuring safety for you and your loved ones by taking the proper steps both before and during the storm.