When it comes to hurricanes, there’s no such thing as being too prepared. These natural disasters can cause incredible damage to homes and other property while also putting people in great danger. If you live in an area that’s at risk for hurricanes, it’s critical you make sure you’re ready to handle any situation a storm may throw your way. Check out this hurricane preparedness checklist to make sure you’re not caught off guard when a storm hits.
Know Your National Hurricane Resources
Hurricanes can leave devastating effects in their wake. Don’t wait until a storm is about to hit to figure out what resources you may need to access for assistance or guidance. Keep a list of hurricane resources handy in case internet or phone service is limited during a storm. Here are some of the most important services and organizations you should familiarize yourself with:
You can also look up state and local resources that can assist you in the event of a hurricane. Be sure to keep your homeowners insurance policy and flood insurance policy details readily available, including the contact information for your insurance agent.
Review Weather Terms
Understanding common weather terms is helpful when you’re preparing for a hurricane. The way storms are categorized depends on wind speed. A tropical depression has a maximum sustained wind speed of less than 39 mph. A tropical storm has maximum sustained wind speeds between 39 mph and 73 mph, while a hurricane has wind speeds of 74 mph or higher.
From there, hurricanes are further categorized based on how intense the winds become:
- Category 1: 74-95 mph
- Category 2: 96-110 mph
- Category 3: 111-129 mph
- Category 4: 130-156 mph
- Category 5: 156 mph or higher.
A hurricane watch is issued when a hurricane conditions are possible; the alert is escalated to a hurricane warning when hurricane conditions are expected in the area.
A storm surge occurs when the sea level rises after a hurricane or other major storm. It can be one of the greatest threats resulting from a hurricane.
Make a Plan
It helps to plan out in advance what steps you need to take before a storm hits. When you know a hurricane may be headed toward your area, you should already have detailed instructions and information you can refer to in order to get your home and your family ready.
Keep these plans easily accessible so you can get to them as quickly as possible. Have a printed copy in your home and keep a digital file on your phone or computer.
Your plan should include the following details:
- Emergency supplies to gather
- A list of tasks for protecting your home from damage
- Emergency phone numbers for federal, state, and local resources
- Contact information for close friends and family
- Items you want to take from your home if you need to evacuate.
In addition, your family should regularly review what to do in case of an emergency. Go over the escape routes in your home and where the list of emergency phone numbers is located. You can also create a calling point with a specific friend or family member in case you get separated.
Obtain an Emergency Food and Water Supply
Make sure you have an emergency food and water supply in your home before hurricane season begins. This supply should include plenty of canned foods and other items with a long storage life. Don’t forget about storing enough baby food or pet food as needed. Because you may lose electricity, gas, and water supplies during the storm, look for things that are easy to prepare with little or no cooking, refrigeration, or water. Stock up on some paper plates, cups, and bowls and consider investing in a small camp stove.
You should store 1 gallon of water per day per person and per pet. Get at least a three-day supply of water, but stock up on even more if you have room to store it.
Get Your Home Ready
To get your home ready for a hurricane, gather the following safety items:
- Battery-powered radio
- First-aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Extra batteries
You may need to turn off your utilities for safety, so make a list of all the shut-off locations in and around your home. Consider getting supplies to board up your windows and removing outdoor furniture or décor that may blow away in high winds. Fill the bathtub with water you can use for cleaning purposes if the water supply is lost.
Get Your Family Ready
Make sure your family is ready by gathering sleeping bags and extra blankets. Get some essential personal care items together as well, such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper, baby wipes, soap, toothpaste, diapers, and tampons. If any of your family members take a prescription medication, make sure you have extra in case you aren’t able to go to a pharmacy for a refill.
Place any important documents, such as birth certificates, wills, and passports, in a waterproof container. You should also put treasured items, like family photographs, in a safe place. When the storm hits, stay away from windows and do not go outside, even if it gets calm temporarily.
Prepare for Emergency Evacuation
If you do need to evacuate, prepare your car by getting a full tank of gas and making sure the car has a stocked emergency kit, maps, and a spare tire. Bring along an emergency water supply, nonperishable food, medications, blankets, cash, and important documents.
Turn off your home’s gas, electricity, and water before you leave. Follow the roads that emergency workers recommend and keep the radio on for updates. Call ahead to hotels, shelters, or friends or family members to plan for a place to stay temporarily.
Preparing well in advance will make it much easier to stay calm as a hurricane approaches. Make a detailed plan and gather important supplies before hurricane season to help ensure the safety of your family and your home.