The Essentials of Hurricane Preparedness
Learn the fundamentals of preparing for a hurricane, from securing doors and windows to stocking supplies to avoiding hazards after the hurricane.
If you’ve been through a hurricane, you know the brutally powerful force with which it impacts land. Winds capable of exceeding 150 mph, torrential rains and surging ocean waters have the potential to cause severe flooding and collateral damage to coastal and inland properties. Properly preparing for a hurricane not only helps protect your home, but most importantly, your family.
Before Hurricane Season
Make an evacuation plan
The most important part of hurricane preparedness is knowing where to go in the event of a hurricane. If you have a local shelter, learn the quickest route there with and without a vehicle. If you have friends or family within reasonable distance in a safer area inland, ask if you could stay with them in an emergency. Also, make sure everyone in your home knows the plan.
Stock emergency supplies
If you’re preparing for a hurricane that’s imminent, the last place you want to be is standing in line to get emergency supplies. Grab them well ahead of hurricane season, when prices are down and lines are short. Here are some essentials you’ll be glad to have on-hand:
- Water - one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- Extra batteries for all emergency supplies that require them
- First aid kit
- Whistles to signal for help
- Dust masks to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Printed copies of local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Prepare the home
Trees and branches are prone to falling during a hurricane. Long before it arrives, trim them shorter or remove damaged trees and limbs to help minimize potential damage. Loose rain gutters and downspouts may also create unnecessary debris during the storm. Secure these ahead of time so they are not an issue later.
Check insurance coverage
Whether you live near the coast or not, check your insurance to see if you’re insured against flooding. Many people don’t realize flood insurance isn’t standard and find out after it’s too late. Simply contact your insurance provider to see if you’re covered. Flood insurance is well worth it in the event flooding impacts your home.
It’s also good to know what type of insurance coverage your vehicles have. You may not be able to take every vehicle with you to a safer area, and they could be at risk. Know how to respond should something happen to your vehicle during a hurricane.
When the Hurricane is Near
Know a hurricane watch versus a warning
During a hurricane watch, hurricane conditions of sustained winds 74 mph or higher are possible. Hurricane watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the estimated onset of tropical-storm-force winds (39 mph to 73 mph) in an area. This is the time to prepare your home and review your plan for evacuation in case the weather escalates to a tropical storm or hurricane conditions. Stay aware of changing weather conditions at all times.
When a hurricane warning is issued, it means hurricane conditions are expected within the specified area. The warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the estimated onset of tropical-storm-force winds. At this time, it’s critical to complete all storm preparations as quickly as possible and evacuate the area, if directed by local officials.
Secure the home
Look around the home’s exterior to see if there is anything that might be susceptible to damage from extreme wind, flying debris, or flooding. If so, take precautions to secure it, either moving it inside or covering with a secured tarp. Next, outfit windows and doorways with added defenses, such as plywood or reinforced shutters. If you have a garage, make sure it’s locked shut to prevent high winds from incidentally opening the door.
Back up electronics
This is possible before hurricane season, although you may have new files to back once the storm is near. Keep data at an offsite location, far from the potential damage caused by the hurricane.
Evacuate the area
If you live in a high-risk area, it may be convenient to “ride out the storm,” but it’s seriously dangerous. You may be putting your life at risk by staying home. Instead, play it safe, and stay with someone close to you who lives in a lower-risk area, or stay at a local shelter.
During the Hurricane
In the hours during landfall, there may be areas of extreme damage from winds and flooding. Most will have evacuated the area already. However, if you chose to stay in a high-risk area, your number one priority during this time should be your safety. Stay inside at all times, preferably in a well-constructed building and away from doors and windows. Even if they are covered, they could be hazardous.
Know what’s happening with the storm by tuning into local emergency alerts, on TV or radio, for weather updates, emergency instructions and direction from local officials.
After the Hurricane
When the most extreme weather conditions have passed, there may still be dangers nearby, such as sharp debris and downed power lines. If you remained in the home during the storm, don’t go outside until authorities deem it safe to do so. Use this time to check in with family and friends, and make sure everyone is accounted for.
If you were away from the home during the hurricane, return home only when it’s been indicated safe to do so by local officials. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters, as they could be electrically charged by downed power lines. Hidden debris underwater could also puncture tires and leave you stranded.
If your home has been damaged, photograph the property to help with insurance claims. Take steps to prevent further damage as well, such as tarping a leaky roof. Lastly, call a professional for help with home restoration. At Resolve, we can connect you with highly qualified contractors who can help you get your home back to normal.
The information and advice contained in this article is intended as a general guide for informational purposes only. It does not take into account your personal situation. While we at Resolve have significant experience and history operating in the home restoration industry and working closely with construction contractors, we are not licensed as a general or specialty contractor. We encourage you to consider the information we’ve provided but urge you not to rely upon it in place of appropriate professional advice from a licensed, experienced construction contractor.