Preparing For a Hurricane: Before, During, and After the Storm
How to Prepare Your Home to Weather the Storm and Keep Your Family Safe
Preparing for hurricane season in advance and knowing what to expect when one hits is one of the smartest things you can do, whether you need to remain in your home or create and follow a hurricane evacuation plan. Below, find useful safety 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.
What to do Before a Hurricane
If You Stay Home:
- 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, bottled water, a first-aid kit, a battery-powered radio, flashlights and extra batteries in air-tight containers. Use our hurricane grocery list to ensure you have everything you need.
- 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.
- Fill bathtubs and sinks with water to ensure you have enough to flush the toilet, cook, etc. in case of a power outage.
If You Need to Evacuate:
- 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.
- If possible, move important items to a higher floor or surface such as a counter or shelf to protect expensive equipment from flooding.
- 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.
- Ensure your car is in good running condition and has a full tank of gas, extra emergency supplies and a change of clothes.
- 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.
Necessary Precautions to Protect Your Home
- 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 potted plants 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 deadlier than hurricane winds. Leave the coast and stay away from low-lying areas.
- Keep important documents (passports, deeds, insurance information) in a stormproof container in case of flooding.
- Back up important digital assets and keep them on a USB or other portable device to keep with you if you need to quickly evacuate.
How to Prepare Your Pets for a Hurricane
- As a general precaution, ensure your pets are micro-chipped and have up-to-date tags on their collar in case of separation.
- Create an emergency kit that includes necessary medications, medical records, clean-up items, leashes and food, and keep it near or inside a carrier for evacuations.
What to do During a Hurricane
If you are staying home, here's what you should do:
- Monitor the radio or television for weather conditions and updates.
- 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 damage in the event of a power surge.
- If flooding nears your home, turn off the electricity at the main breaker.
What NOT to do During a Hurricane
Avoid these dangerous actions and stay safe:
- Do not handle electrical equipment and do not use the telephone except in an emergency.
- 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 intense winds resume.
- Do not use candles during the storm - they could cause a fire. Stick with battery operated flashlights.
- Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. Six to twelve inches of water is all it takes to take you down or flood your car.
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 utility 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.
- Follow post-storm food and water safety precautions to protect your family from contamination.
- Stay away from flood waters as they can contain harmful contaminates and hide dangerous debris.
- Take photographs of any damage incurred.
- If flooding or water damaged occurred, begin cleaning up and repairs as soon as possible to avoid mold and be sure to wear protective gear.
Read more weather preparedness tips in the Learning Center.