A Guide to Hurricane Prep: What You Should Do
Hurricanes can be a terrifying prospect, and they can wreak enormous destruction when they hit. However, there are actions you can take in preparation for when a hurricane hits.
Many of these steps don’t require enormous effort, nor will they break the bank, but they can make a world of difference when the cards are down.
Listed below are some of our top tips for preparing for a hurricane so that you know what to do before and after the storm. Let’s get into it.
Develop a Plan Beforehand
Preparation in advance is key to success in almost every field, and a hurricane is no exception. The hurricane season starts on May 15th in the north Pacific and June 1st in the Atlantic and Caribbean. It usually ends on November 30th in both regions. Marking this period in your calendar and planning beforehand will put you in the best possible position to respond to a hurricane.
Everyone’s hurricane response will differ based on where they live (on the coast vs. inland). Other factors to consider include the size of their family, whether your family all live under one roof, and whether you will evacuate or stay home.
However, everyone can incorporate some common themes into their responses, which we cover in more detail below.
Know Your Evacuation Route
If local authorities instruct you to evacuate or strongly advise it, you need to move fast. It can be an incredibly stressful experience, so the last thing you want to do is rush and make avoidable mistakes.
For this reason, it’s best to plan an evacuation route ahead of time and don’t stick to the roads you know. Traffic will naturally be much busier during evacuations, so consider multiple routes.
Mapping multiple evacuation routes is even more critical if you don’t have a car and need public transportation or assistance to leave your home. Make sure that you have planned every step of your evacuation, including building a backup plan in case your first choice doesn’t work out at the time. They don’t need to be particularly extensive, but just make sure you have answered three key questions:
- How you’re getting out (car or public transport)
- Which route that you plan to take
- What you will need to take with you immediately
It can be tempting to grab everything in sight during an evacuation, but it could slow you down significantly. It is advisable to have a list of items you can quickly take with you, as it can significantly speed up your exit process. It can also prevent you from forgetting something important.
Stock Up on Emergency Supplies
In some cases, evacuation isn’t advisable during a hurricane. Sometimes, it is safer to stay home, but you need to ensure that you have stocked your home with the right supplies.
Additionally, even if you do receive orders to evacuate, it isn’t always possible. Roads become blocked, or circumstances arise where you simply cannot leave. It can happen. Preparing your home for this eventuality, even if you intend to evacuate, is a good idea.
Some essential items to consider include:
- Emergency food supply (preferably non-perishable)
- Bottled water is advisable since a hurricane can cut off your water supply for extended periods.
- Access to power—this could include a generator, but it could also extend to flashlights.
- Important documentation, such as medical documents, passports, and other forms of identification
- A fire extinguisher. Many people choose to use candles to illuminate their homes when the power goes out, but this can significantly increase fire risk. A fire extinguisher on hand can be a lifesaver.
Try to put yourself in the position of an emergency hurricane warning. What will you need when the power goes out? What will you reach for first? These questions can help you create a personalized list.
Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Ready
If you have a car, you need to make sure it is ready to make a speedy exit. Planning your route is one thing, but your vehicle needs to be in working order.
Having an emergency kit in your trunk at all times is a great idea, with or without a hurricane alert. Your vehicle emergency kit should include:
- Flares or reflective surfaces to keep your car visible if you have to pull over
- Jumper cables
- A cell phone charger that is compatible with your car
It is also wise to have your car checked out by a mechanic, especially in the run-up to hurricane season. A mechanic should pay particular attention to critical factors, such as the brakes, fuel tank, lights, exhaust system, and windshield integrity.
You should, of course, also make sure that you always have at least half a tank of fuel available to you. The last thing you need during a hurricane is an empty tank.
Ensure Your Entire Family Is Ready (Animals Included!)
Building a plan for your family is one thing, but you also need to know that everybody is on the same page. Once you have an emergency plan together, make sure everyone knows exactly where they need to be and what they need to do as soon as the hurricane alert goes out. This could include delegating specific responsibilities to particular family members so that you can enact the plan much faster.
You should also consider your pets in your plan, especially if you have numerous. While you can’t communicate your plan to your pet directly, this is an example of a role you could delegate. If a family member is responsible for the pet, you can rest assured that they won’t get left behind. If you are choosing to stay home, make sure everyone is safe in a secure location.
If you need additional help moving vulnerable people, call the hospital, police, or public health department for assistance. Knowing the contact information for local emergency assistance hotlines is especially important for older or disabled members of your household.
Prep Your Home, Indoors and Outdoors
Whether you are evacuating or staying, there are plenty of things you can do to protect your home in the event of a hurricane.
The first thing you should do is clear up your yard. Hurricanes are notorious for strong winds, so the more debris you have near your home, the more likely it is for damage to occur.
Debris isn’t just rocks and sticks, either. A hurricane is a powerful force of nature that can easily swing larger items through your windows if given a chance. Objects such as bikes, garden equipment, and even lawn furniture can all be flung around during a hurricane. Secure all of it away within your garage or similar indoor space to minimize the risk of damage.
You should also cover your windows and doors, or anywhere that’s glass, as flying debris or even strong winds can cause shattering. Storm shutters or nailed plywood can work effectively to block out the more aggressive weather.
Decide If You Need to Evacuate or Stay Home
Always listen to the advice from the authorities. Hurricane alerts vary widely, so it’s impossible to know whether you will need to evacuate or simply stay put. The situation depends on the severity of the hurricane, your location, and how risky it is to evacuate effectively.
Regardless of the specifics, always follow the advice of the authorities wherever possible. If you need to evacuate, you must leave, no matter how confident you may feel. Hurricanes can knock down even the highest quality houses, and staying back to salvage anything will only put you in danger.
Above All Else, Stay Safe
While adequate preparation is essential, nothing is more important than the safety of yourself and other members of your household. Listen to professional advice and, when told to evacuate, make every effort to do so. Your home and your possessions are replaceable, but your life is not.