Hurricanes are serious business and can impact people who live both near the ocean and further inland. It is important if you live in an area that could be impacted by hurricanes that you take precautions before hurricane season and that you keep those precautions in place throughout the year. Taking precautions and planning can make the possibility of a hurricane less of an immediate crisis and more of a manageable situation!
Prior to a Hurricane
The best time to prepare for a hurricane is before it is even a possibility. Being prepared is key in a hurricane as they can arise quickly, and evacuations can be called for very quickly. One of the best ways to be prepared is to make a kit for every member of your family filled with bottled water, some food that doesn’t need refrigeration, and any medications or needed supplies. It’s also a good idea to have an evacuation plan and share it with someone outside the risk zone in case you are evacuated and have no cell signal or way to reach anyone.
- FEMA: Hurricane safety tips: learn what to do before, during, and after a hurricane
- National Weather Service: What to do before the tropical storm or hurricane
Knowing Your Risk
It is important to know what your hurricane risk is. Many don’t have any hurricane risk, and some, especially those directly on the eastern and southern coasts of the United States, have a very high risk of being at least somewhat impacted by a hurricane. Even those further inland have some risk, as strong hurricanes may impact them or they may be impacted by residual effects, like flooding.
Creating a Plan
Creating a plan is a great way to prepare and can save precious moments both during and after a hurricane. Have a plan for what preparations you will take before the hurricane, where you will evacuate if you need to leave, who you will contact, and so on. These types of plans can be very helpful, especially if you are new to a hurricane-prone. They can help you feel more comfortable with your preparedness in the event of a hurricane-related emergency.
- American Red Cross: Hurricane safety checklist
- United States Department of Labor: Hurricane preparedness and response
Being Aware of Weather and Alerts
Staying aware of any alerts that are active for hurricanes is important, as is keeping a general eye on the weather, especially during hurricane season. These types of storms can happen any time of year, so paying attention to the weather and the news is important year-round.
- National Geographic: Why this hurricane season has been so catastrophic
- Weather.org: Stormwatch
Preparing Your Home
There are many ways to prepare your home. Hurricanes can happen quickly, so these preparations should be done soon after you move in and should be checked on every few months. Having plywood ready to put over any large windows, knowing where the emergency supplies are located, and making sure you have all proper home maintenance up to date are important in case of a hurricane.
Whether you should buy hurricane insurance or not is, ultimately, up to you, but if you live in a high-risk area, it can be a comfort and help prevent costly losses if your property is damaged. Hurricane insurance may also be required in your area, so it is important to understand the needs and requirements of your region.
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners: Hurricane and named storm deductibles
- Louisiana Department of Insurance: Storm damage resource center
During a Hurricane
During a hurricane, it is important to always keep in mind that the safety of your family and yourself is more important than any material possession. Although you should protect your home, if you are advised to evacuate, you should think very strongly about doing so. If you do decide to stay and weather out the storm, you should be sure to find a safe place in your home, away from windows, and have a last-minute escape route if you need to leave later. You should also let friends and family know that you are staying.
- The University of Rhode Island Hurricane Center: During a hurricane: how to be safe
- Save the Children: 10 tips for keeping children safe in a hurricane
There are hundreds of tips for what to do during a hurricane, but the most important is to stay safe. Your home may flood, and there may be destruction, but it is important to remember that the safety of your family should come first. One great tip is to give every person in the family a job, one may in charge of the family pets, another person in charge of planning the evacuation route, and so on.
- UNICEF Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management: Hurricane and hurricane tips
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Hurricane safety tips
Protecting Your Home and Family
Protecting your home and family is paramount during a hurricane. Knowing when you should evacuate, what to do during and after a hurricane, and how to return home if you do evacuate are all important steps in this process. These should all be planned out, especially if you live in a high-risk area.
- Popular Mechanics: 8 ways to protect your home against tornadoes and hurricanes
- Centers for Disease Control: Natural disasters and severe weather: get your family, home, and car ready
When to Evacuate
How do you know when to evacuate? There is no hard and fast rule, although evacuations may be ordered, and it is your obligation to comply. If evacuations are not ordered but are suggested, it is very important to understand how to get out of your city and not to wait until the last minute, as being in a car during a hurricane can be even more dangerous than staying home. Pay close attention to the weather and any evacuation suggestions.
- United States Department of State: Hurricanes Irma and Jose
After a Hurricane
After a hurricane, whether you’ve stayed in your home or evacuated, it is likely that you will have some repairs or cleaning up to do. Any debris should be cleaned up as quickly as possible as it can create a hazardous environment for others. If you have any damage, you should report it to your homeowner’s insurance as quickly as possible.
- Federal Alliance for Safe Homes: Hurricanes: after the storm, important tips
If you do have damage, it is important to take pictures of the damage and note, with as much detail as possible, what the damage is. It may be beneficial to take “before” pictures of your home so that if any damage does occur you can compare the damage to what your house originally looked like.
- Broward County, Florida: After the event
- PETA: Will your animal companions be protected in a fire, hurricane, or other disaster?
Cleanup, Mold, etc.
If you have any cleanup to do, this should be done as quickly as possible, as debris can be hazardous, and any flooding may result in mold or mildew, an expensive and often dangerous problem to have. When cleaning up, if you have large items, you may need to rent a dumpster or be prepared to wait for city cleanup, as they are likely stretched very thin as well.
- Minnesota Department of Health: Dealing with mold problems after a flood
- Scientific American: Beyond bleach: mold is a long-term problem after flood and disasters
Safety and First Aid
It is very important to avoid dangerous situations during and after a hurricane, such as downed power lines, water over roads, and wild animals, but if an emergency does occur, it is great to have a first aid kid and some general knowledge of first aid. This includes caring for minor medical issues on adults, children, and even pets, and can help your loved ones stay safe and healthy until medical care can be provided.