Hurricanes are a common occurrence along the coastlines of the United States each year. Some years have more hurricanes than normal, some years have less. And some years have can have strong, powerful storms that cause a lot of damage. You never know what the hurricane season will hold, so it is best to know what to do in the case of a hurricane, record breaking storm or not.
The beginning of the hurricane season depends on the coast. The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1st and lasts until the 30th of November. The Pacific hurricane season begins a few weeks earlier on May 15th and also lasts until the 30th of November. The peak season in between mid-August and the end of October.
Before the Storm
The best time to prepare for a hurricane is before it even happens. If you live in the coastal areas of the United States, you are at risk of a hurricane. Start preparing during the off-season months of December through May and be ready for any storm that may come.
Have a Hurricane Emergency Kit. This can be much like a 72-hour kit and include food and water, a first aid kit, hygiene supplies, warm clothing, blankets, flashlights with extra batteries, etc. These supplies will need to last you for three days and be stocked and ready to go as soon as you need it.
Make a Family Plan. Talk to your family and make sure everyone knows what to do and where to go in the event of a hurricane. If you are in an evacuation zone, have a map of the area stored with your emergency supplies and make sure you know the evacuation route for your area.
Buy a Generator. If you do not end up evacuating your house and instead sheltering in place, it is likely that you’ll lose power if the hurricane is severe. A generator can have enough power to run a few lights in your home, as well as appliances like the refrigerator. Stock up on fuel for your generator, you never know how long the power outage will last.
Be Ready to Secure your Property. In the case of a hurricane, you’ll want to be ready with storm shutters or plywood to cover your windows. You may also want to buy a garage door brace kit and straps to secure your roof to the frame of your home. These things can easily be caught in the wind and torn from your home.
During the Storm
There are two options for you during a hurricane: evacuating your area or sheltering in place. If the hurricane is severe a mandatory evacuation may be issued. Listen to local authorities for what to do during the storm and be ready to prepare your home.
Listen to the News. Invest in an emergency radio to store in your supplies so you can keep updated on what is going on around you. An emergency radio should use an alternative power source like battery, solar, or hand-crank rather than electricity.
Secure Your Property. Put up your storm shutters, brace your garage door, and tie down your roof. You should also bring large items from your yard into your garage including grills, patio furniture, etc. This prevents them from being blown away and causing damage to your home.
Turn Off Utilities. When a hurricane is headed your way, turn off the utilities in your home, including gas, water, and electricity. This will prevent gas leaks and electrical surges that might be dangerous for your family and damaging to your home.
Designate a Safe Room. If an evacuation isn’t issued and you stay at your house, be sure to keep away from doors and windows. When the storm starts to get bad, have a room where you can take shelter. This room should be in the center of your house, preferably with no windows or exterior doors.
Gather Your Supplies. Make sure all of your food, water, supplies, and important documents (birth certificates, passports, insurance papers, etc.) are collected and ready to go. You can keep all of these items in your safe room if you are staying in your home or pack them up in your car if you need to evacuate. If you are evacuating, try to have all the necessities that you might need for a week.
After the Storm
The aftermath of the storm can be the hardest and most dangerous part of a hurricane. Being smart is the key to staying safe when returning to an area that has been hit by a hurricane.
Wait for Clearance. Do not return to an area until it has been declared safe to do so. Continue to listen to the radio to get news updates of what is happening in your area. Returning to your home too soon can be dangerous for you and your family, as unseen hazards may still exist.
Be Aware of Hazards. Hurricanes can bring many hazards to an area, downed power lines, gas leaks, contaminated water, etc. Only drive if necessary and watch for weakened bridges and flooded roads.. Do not use tap water to drink or cook and use flashlights instead of candles for light in case of gas.
Cleaning Up. Wear protective clothing when cleaning up, such as work gloves, heavy-duty boots, and goggles to protect yourself from injury. Inspect the damages to your home and perform any necessary repairs. Use caution when entering buildings as the storm might have weakened the foundation, the frame of the structure, or both.
Hurricanes can have high winds and heavy rains, but as with any disaster, you can prepare yourself beforehand and be ready for the storm. Know what to do and follow evacuation orders to stay safe. What other hurricane safety tips do you have?