Preparing For a Hurricane: Before, During, and After the Storm
Preparing for hurricane season in advance and knowing what to expect when one hits is one of the smartest things you can do. Below, find useful tips on how to prepare for a hurricane, how to stay safe while it's happening, and how to deal with the aftermath once the storm has passed.
Before a Hurricane
- Locate a safe room or the safest areas of your home or for each hurricane hazard. The safest areas may not actually be your home, but within your community.
- Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family and know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding, and wind.
- Stock non-perishable food supplies, a first-aid kit, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, and extra batteries in air-tight containers.
- Adjust refrigerator temperatures to the coldest settings to reduce the potential for food spoiling if the power is temporarily lost.
- Have a non-electric analog telephone or a fully-charged cell phone available in case you need to make an emergency call during a power outage.
- Take the advice of local authorities. Evacuate if ordered.
- If an evacuation is necessary, unplug all appliances, TV's and computers before leaving your home.
- Remove fuses from the air conditioning system to prevent damage.
- Turn off water to prevent flooding from broken pipes.
- Turn off gas to prevent leaks from occurring.
- Determine escape routes from your home and a nearby place to meet with loved ones. These should be measured in tens of miles when possible.
- If you have a shed, make sure its doors are closed tightly: otherwise, they could end up blowing off their hinges and becoming dangerous projectiles.
- Bring in flags, awnings and house ornaments, such as wreaths, wind chimes, or sculptures.
- Bring plants in pots into the garage. These could also become dangerous projectiles.
- Don't leave cars parked under trees, especially if you may be in the car when the storm strikes!
- Check pool covers to ensure that they are secure.
- Be alert for tornadoes.
- Be cautious with storm surge flooding. These high waves can be more deadly than hurricane winds. Leave the coast and stay away from low-lying areas.
- Do not use candles during the storm - they could cause a fire. Stick with battery operated flashlights.
During a Hurricane
If you are staying home, here's what you should do:
- Monitor the radio or television for weather conditions and updates.
- Do not go outside, even if the storm appears to have subsided. The calm or the "eye" of the storm can pass quickly, leaving you outside when strong winds resume.
- Stay away from all windows and exterior doors, and seek shelter in a bathroom or basement. Bathtubs can provide some shelter if you cover yourself with plywood or other materials.
- Evacuate to a shelter or a neighbor's home if your home is damaged, or if you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel.
- If power is lost, turn off all major appliances to reduce the chances of damaging a power surge.
- Do not handle electrical equipment and do not use the telephone except in an emergency.
Regardless of whether you stay or leave, it is important to unplug appliances and electronics, and remove air conditioner fuses to avoid damage caused by power surges when lines and power are restored.
What to do After a Hurricane
The storm has passed. What now?
- When power returns to your home, do not start all major appliances at once. Turn them on gradually to reduce damage to sensitive equipment.
- Avoid downed, damaged or loose power lines and report them immediately to the local police and fire department, as well as to the local transmission and distribution services provider in your area.
- Even if you have ventilation, never use a generator indoors. This includes garages, basements and crawlspaces. Exhaust fumes contain high levels of carbon monoxide which can be deadly if inhaled. Even when left outside, keep generators away from doors and windows and at least 10 feet away from your home. Also, allow your generator to cool off before refilling it with gas – splashing gas on hot generator components can lead to a fire.
- Do not use electrical or gas appliances that have been wet, and do not turn on damaged appliances because of the hazards of electric shock or fire.
- Never use charcoal indoors because burning charcoal produces high levels of carbon monoxide that can reach lethal levels in enclosed spaces.