How Do You Prepare For A Hurricane? 9 Vital Steps
Last Updated: 04 Aug 2022
Disaster Relief & Emergency Servicesecho $minutes. " Minute Read"?>
Hurricane Season runs from June to November, and preparing properly could save your life.
Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30. In 2021 alone, the United States experienced 21 major storms, including hurricanes. The safest way to approach hurricane season is to expect a hurricane. If you live in a hurricane zone, knowing how to prepare for a hurricane is key for minimizing potential damage and loss.
UNDERSTAND THE THREAT LEVEL
When do you need to keep an eye on the news, and when do you need to act? Let’s break down what you need to do when you’re under Hurricane Advisory, Hurricane Watch, and Hurricane Warning.
PREPARING FOR A HURRICANE
1. Know Your Zone
If you live near the Gulf or Atlantic Coast, you might be located in a Hurricane Evacuation Zone. Visit your state’s disaster or emergency preparedness website to see if your address falls within a designated evacuation zone.
2. Build an Emergency Prep Kit
When a hurricane hits, residents can be cut off by floods or damaged roads and stranded for days until the water recedes or emergency responders can reach them. You need to be prepared for prolonged isolation without running water or electricity. What do I include in my emergency prep kit? Great question—everyone’s needs will be slightly different based on location and household.
In addition to the items listed above, make sure you stock up on medications and pet food. Generators, portable cell phone chargers, and extra clothing are also a great idea. Collect these items now. Once a hurricane advisory or warning is announced, the stores will be swamped and critical supplies will sell out immediately.
3. Protect Your Property
Bring your patio furniture, plants, and bikes inside. Trim your larger trees and shrubs to minimize damage if they fall. Move your cars to higher ground or park them in the garage. Secure indoor wall hangings, and move furniture and other valuables to the second floor. If you live in a single-story home, elevate your belongings with cinder blocks. Board up windows with plywood, and purchase a few large blue tarps to have on hand in the event of roof leaks. Once the storm hits, you won’t be able to get to the store for last-minute supplies (and even then, they’ll likely be sold out).
4. Photograph and Video Your Home
Take pictures or video of your home and property before a potential storm hits. If you need to make insurance or FEMA claims after the storm passes, this visual documentation will be crucial. Your phone will capture the date and time the photos and videos were taken, which you can offer as proof to your insurance company.
5. Review Insurance Policies
Not all homeowner’s insurance automatically covers hurricane damage! Make sure you are closely reviewing your insurance policies regularly to know what you will and won’t be able to claim. To fully cover your home for hurricane damage, you will likely need flood insurance in addition to homeowner’s insurance. And depending on your location, you may also need a separate windstorm policy.
6. Identify Nearby Shelter Locations
If you’re ordered to evacuate before a hurricane, or forced to leave home after the storm hits, you may need to find a nearby shelter. But emergency shelters are not all-size-fits-all. Some are very specific about the residents they will accept (ie. some shelters specialize in caring for people with disabilities.) This interactive tool from the American Red Cross shows emergency shelters operated by them and their partner agencies.
7. Enable Weather Alerts on Your Phone
Whether you have an iOS or Android phone, you can set your phone to notify you with emergency weather alerts so that you know whether you need to shelter in place or evacuate. Here are some ways to get emergency weather alerts:
- Go into your Weather app and enable notifications. Make sure to toggle on your location.
- Sign up for email weather alerts from the National Hurricane Center
- Download the FEMA Weather App
8. Plan for Your Pets
If you have a pet, make sure you know how you’ll care for them in an emergency. Your emergency preparedness kit should include pet food and care supplies:
If it’s not safe for you to stay in your home during a storm, it’s not safe for your pet, either. If you can’t take your pet with you, plan ahead and evacuate them before the storm hits. Consider fostering or boarding until the storm threat passes. Many hotels and shelters do not accept pets unless they are certified service animals.
9. Make an Emergency Binder for Vital Documents
Collect and organize all identifying documents, deeds, and insurance paperwork in a binder that you can store in your Emergency Preparedness Kit. This includes:
10. Write a Family Emergency Plan
Plan ahead and write it down. Where will you evacuate to? How will you evacuate if your family is not together when the storm hits? Where will pets go? Are your emergency supplies up-to-date, or are they expired? Who will be responsible for each hurricane prep task?
Use this Ready.gov Family Emergency Communication Plan form, print it out, and put it in the front of your home binder for easy reference.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A HURRICANE
Tend to Your Mental Health
A natural disaster can be a traumatic event for people of all ages and backgrounds. After a storm, be cognizant of your family’s mental wellbeing and consider counseling, a support group, or non-talk therapy wellness activities.
Beware Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Generators are great to have on-hand during a hurricane or natural disaster, but they can also be dangerous. Remember that all fuel-generating appliances release carbon monoxide, which is toxic (and can be deadly) to humans and pets. Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. Never use a generator indoors, and pay attention to flu-like symptoms. If you suspect carbon monoxide exposure, move outside immediately and call 911.
Build a Recovery Plan
Assess your property damage thoroughly. Document everything with photos and detailed notes, and submit insurance claims and FEMA emergency assistance applications.
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.