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Hurricane Safety Tips: Stay Safe Before, During & After

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Hurricane season generally runs from June through November, with September being the most common time for hurricanes to hit land. The spring and early summer might be a good time to take stock of the following list to see much you can do ahead of time (when you have the time, and there are no lines).

As the old proverb goes, forewarned is forearmed – and if you live in an area (ahem, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, etc.) where hurricanes are a risk, there are many steps you can take to prepare in the event of a hurricane. Taking reasonable pre-season precautions is an excellent way to reduce anxiety as well as stay safe in the event of a big storm. Read on to learn some useful hurricane safety tips to help you stay safe during storm season.

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Pre-Season Hurricane Safety Tips

Hurricane season generally runs from June through November, with September being the most common time for hurricanes to hit land. The spring and early summer might be a good time to take stock of the following list to see much you can do ahead of time (when you have the time, and there are no lines).

Assemble an emergency preparedness kit

Find a box or a large tote and stock it with supplies you could use to “grab and go” if you needed to evacuate with short notice. Basic supplies would include:

  • Battery or hand crank radio
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Week’s worth of prescription medications
  • Whistle to signal or call for help
  • Moist towelettes and small plastic bags for personal care
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Local map
  • Basic tool kit
  • Small supply of cash

You can also find a corner of a closet to store larger items so you can “grab and go” in case of an emergency. These items include:

  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Food (a 3-day supply, and don’t forget the can opener)
  • Disposable Tableware (paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils)
  • Pet food and a portable bowl, leash
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing, including shoes
  • Books, games, cards, etc.

Put a portable emergency bag in your car

You never know where you’ll be if an emergency arises, so it’s a good idea to keep a portable emergency supply kit in your car.

Create an evacuation plan

Sit down with the members of your household and discuss how you would gather supplies and what route you would take in the event of an evacuation. Delegate responsibilities to each household member and make sure everyone understands what to do. Plan a meeting spot as well – family members may not all be together when a storm hits, and cell phones may not be working either. Consider leaving a note in an easy-to-spot location for family, friends, and emergency responders. This way they’ll know you are safe and not in your home.

Having a plan will reduce panic and uncertainty if an evacuation becomes necessary.  

Stock up on nonperishable foods

It’s a good idea to stay stocked up on canned and boxed foods that require little or no preparation. If you end up using them, not a problem – just remember to replace them. Grocery stores always take a big hit when a storm is in the forecast and may not have much on the shelves.

Keep a few extra coolers stowed in the garage

Coolers are great extra (and portable) refrigerators in the event of a power outage.

Properly store important documents

Keep all your important paper documents stored safely in a fireproof/waterproof container like a safe. You can also scan important documents and records and save them to a cloud or flash drive. These may include:

  • Identification records (passports, social security cards, etc.)
  • Important certificates/documents (marriage, adoption, etc.)
  • Insurance policies (both property and medical)
  • Prescription information

FEMA provides a document checklist that will help you organize everything you would need to save, and the Department of Homeland security offers tips on how to encrypt sensitive documents.

Sign up for emergency alerts

Be forewarned by signing up for emergency alerts to receive notifications and status reports on threatening weather conditions.

Look at Your Home Security System

With Mother Nature on a rampage, the last thing you want to worry about is a human threat. Unfortunately, the chaos (and empty homes) that come with a hurricane are a perfect mix for looters and burglars. Confirm that your home security system has a backup power supply so it won’t go down if the power or internet goes out.

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When a Hurricane Warning is Issued

When a hurricane is gearing up and making its way inland, there are a few things you can do to help keep yourself safe – depending on how much time you have. Here are some great hurricane safety tips to keep in mind.

  • Fortify your windows with storm shutters or plywood boards to protect your home from shattered glass.
  • Clear the yard of large limbs and debris. Put away bikes, outdoor furniture, trash cans, etc. Make sure everything outside is removed or secured so it doesn’t become a dangerous projectile.
  • Check your stock of water and fuel. Fill tubs and sinks with water for bathing and flushing. Fill all your vehicle tanks with fuel.
  • Make sure you have several days’ supply of food and water for each family member and put it on the highest shelves (in case of flooding). Bottle water and freeze food – packing things tightly to help them keep cold. The FDA recommends switching your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings.
  • Secure the lids on household (and garage) chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and drain cleaner to make sure they’re tightly closed and stored in a high area. Chemicals released into flood water can be hazardous to your health and are a fire/explosive hazard as well.
  • Move electronics and small appliances (along with valuables) to high places in the event of flooding.
  • If called to evacuate, do so immediately. Keep tuned in to local area radio, NOAA, or TV stations for updates. If they give you a time frame to evacuate, don’t wait too long to leave–you never know what “roadblocks” both literal and figurative, you might face.
  • Download this FEMA mobile app for iPhone and Android phones for a list of open shelters in your area.

How to Stay Safe During a Hurricane

If you’re facing the effects of a hurricane and haven’t been called to evacuate, here are a few things to remember so you can ride out the storm safely.

  • Remain in a secure, interior room.
  • Stay away from any windows.
  • Do not use the phone or candles.
  • Stay tuned to NOAA radio (you can purchase these at retail outlets or through the Red Cross).
  • Remain inside your home as the calm of the eye moves over your area because the storm will shortly resume.

Post Storm Tips

  • If you were forced to evacuate, remember to wait for the “all clear” before returning to your home. Depending on the level of the storm and damage, it may take a while to put your home back together.
  • Make sure the storm – and not just the eye – have completely passed before going outside.
  • Report downed power lines – and stay far, far away from them.
  • Use stored water and food.
  • Avoid walking or driving in flood water. It can be electrically charged or have debris, dead animals, raw sewage, or even venomous snakes in it. It may also be surprising to know that just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and a foot can destabilize a vehicle.
  • Wear gloves, eye protection, and a face mask when doing any cleanup. Air out and remove any water-logged items from your house to reduce mold growth.
  • Wear gloves, eye protection, and a face mask when doing any cleanup. Air out and remove any water-logged items from your house to reduce mold growth.
  • Remember things will take a while before they get back to normal – so try to be patient.

Protecting What is Precious

If you live near a hurricane-prone coast, there’s the danger of wind and flooding—and those living further inland may need to deal with high winds, power outages, and torrential rains that lead to flooding, so it’s a good idea to brush up on your hurricane safety tips. Preparation will ensure a greater degree of safety in the event of a future hurricane – and in every circumstance, your safety is our priority.

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