As part of National Preparedness Month (September), we want to help you prepare for a hurricane and know what to do during and after. Although hurricane season spans several months (Atlantic season is June 1 to November 30 and Pacific season is May 15 to November 30), the month of September sees the most hurricane activity in the U.S. According to the Congressional Budget Office, an estimated 1.2 million Americans live in coastal areas that are at risk of substantial damage caused by hurricanes.
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that build over ocean waters and move toward land. High winds, torrential downpours and storm surges – ocean water that is pushed toward shore – pose significant threats to life and property. The Department of Homeland Security provides actions you can take to prepare and respond during disasters through its Ready.gov website. Here are their recommendations for hurricanes.
Before a Hurricane
If you live in a coastal region, hurricane preparation should begin long before the hurricane arrives. Know your location’s risk and make your own plans for evacuating and sheltering in place. Regularly practice going to a safe shelter with your family and sign up for your community’s warning system.
36 hours before hurricane
Stay tuned in to weather updates and listen to all emergency instructions. Review your evacuation zone, evacuation route and shelter locations with your family so you’re prepared to leave as quickly as needed. Restock your emergency kit with at least three days of food and water, medications, first aid supplies, waterproof flashlight and batteries, cash and any other essential needs. Ensure your vehicle is ready to go with a full tank of gas and stocked with emergency supplies.
18-36 hours before hurricane
Minimize damage to your property by trimming or removing trees that are close to structures and properly cover all of your home’s windows. Bring outdoor items that could become projectiles in high winds inside, such as patio furniture and garbage cans, and anchor any unsafe items like propane tanks.
6-18 hours before hurricane
Check news outlets or local authorities every 30 minutes for the latest updates. Charge your cell phone and any other necessary devices.
6 hours before hurricane
Stay away from all windows to avoid injury from broken and flying glass. Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and avoid opening it unless necessary. This will help keep food longer if you lose power.
During a Hurricane
Always evacuate immediately if told to do so. If you are sheltering during high winds, go to a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter. If you don’t have access to these, go to a small, interior, windowless room or hallway.
- Do not walk, swim or drive through flood waters. All it takes is six inches of fast-moving water to knock you down or one foot of moving water to sweep your vehicle away. Turn around, don’t drown!
- Do not climb into a closed attic as you can become trapped by rising flood water.
- If you’re trapped by flooding, go to the highest level of the building.
After a Hurricane
Once the hurricane has passed, continue to follow information and special instructions provided by local authorities. Phone systems are often overloaded after a disaster, so save phone calls for emergencies only. Instead, send text messages and use social media platforms to communicate with family and friends.
Safety should always come first. Don’t wade through flood waters as there can be debris or worse — the water can become electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. Wear protective clothing when cleaning up and always work with someone else, never alone.
For complete information about preparing for a hurricane, visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes.
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