Hurricane Safety Tips
How to prepare for a hurricane
Hurricanes are among the most powerful severe weather events found in nature. These fearsome storm systems can originate in any ocean – Atlantic, Pacific or Caribbean – and pack a punch of 150-170 mph winds. And when they hit land, they can spawn tornadoes, tropical storms, torrential rain, flooding, landslides and horrific destruction in general. So it's never too early to think about hurricane preparedness – and how you can protect your family, home, property and business. Here are some essential hurricane safety tips to help you prepare for a hurricane.
Long-range hurricane planning
Make sure your home meets or exceeds current model building codes for regions often impacted by hurricanes. You may also want to do the following:
- Talk with your family members about what to do in case of a hurricane. Designate an emergency meeting spot and have a plan for your pets.
- Show adult and teen family members where electrical, gas and water shut-offs are – and how to turn them off. Make sure the proper tools are nearby.
- Have a well-stocked first aid kit, flashlights and plenty of batteries.
- Install impact-resistant windows.
- Be sure your doors have at least three hinges and a deadbolt lock with a bolt at least 1 inch long.
- Install permanent wood or metal stiffeners on your garage door. Or contact the door manufacturer about temporary supports you can easily attach and remove.
- Make sure your roof covering and sheathing beneath it can resist high winds.
- Consider replacing gravel and rock landscaping with mulch or shredded bark, which can be less deadly in high winds.
- Trim trees and shrubbery. Pay particular attention to weak or dead branches that could fall on your home or your neighbor's home.
- Decide how and where to secure your boat.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.
- Learn the elevation level of your property (above or below sea level) and whether the land is flood-prone. This gives you a better idea of how your property might be affected by a storm surge or tidal flooding.
- Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
- Learn hurricane evacuation routes. Figure out ahead of time where to go and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
Before a hurricane hits
If conditions are right for a hurricane in your area, this is how you can prepare:
- Stay tuned to local radio and TV for warnings, safety announcements or instructions.
- Invest in a portable battery-operated or hand-crank radio.
- Turn off all utilities, including propane tanks.
- Cover all of your home’s windows with storm shutters or 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Even duct tape – amazing as it is – doesn’t prevent windows from breaking.
- If it’s safe, move outdoor furniture and grills inside. They can be deadly flying debris.
- If emergency officials haven’t directed you to a public shelter, get your family to the basement, a closet, a small room or a hallway away from windows. The more walls between you and the outside, the better.
- Lean a mattress against the wall of the room you're in.
- Don't open your windows. Keep the wind and rain outside.
- Hand out flashlights. The hurricane will probably disrupt electrical service.
After a hurricane has passed
If you and your family were forced to leave your home – or if it has been severely damaged from the hurricane – wait for authorities to give the all-clear to re-enter. Then:
- Look for flooding in the wake of a hurricane. Rising water can produce dangerous conditions hours or even days later.
- Check for structural damage before going inside.
- If dark, use a flashlight – not matches, a candle or a lighter. An open flame could ignite leaking gas.
- Listen for reports to see when drinking water is safe.
- If there is water damage, consider hiring a professional water damage cleaning service like SERVPRO.
- Use your cell phone or camera to take pictures of the damage that can be used to document your insurance claim.
- Once you’ve gathered necessary documents and evidence of your claim, contact your insurance company or agent.