In the wake of the widespread devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria across the continental United States and Puerto Rico last year, many of you may be wondering how you can prepare yourself, your family, and your home for the upcoming hurricane season.
The best way to prepare for any natural disaster, including a hurricane, is to create a plan for every eventuality well in advance, from how you will ride out the storm at home to how you will handle evacuation.
If you haven’t thought about hurricane preparation, discussed an emergency plan with your kids, put together a disaster kit, or researched evacuation routes, now is the time to start. Waiting till the day of the storm or the days immediately preceding, when anxieties are running high, lines are long, and supplies are short, will only make it harder to acquire essential supplies, find the information you are seeking, or get where you need to go.
When is hurricane season?
The exact timing of hurricane season depends on where you live:
Atlantic: June 1-November 30, peaking between mid-August and late October.
Hurricane season typically affects:
Essential Emergency Preparedness: Hurricane Preparation List
This list of basic tips will get you and your family prepared for hurricane season, as well as other natural disasters:
- Stay aware: Sign up for alerts and warnings from the National Weather Service, and pick up a battery-operated radio that you can tune to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio for ongoing updates if your cell phone loses power or service during the storm.
- Know where to go: If you live in an evacuation area, do your research so know where to go if you are ordered to evacuate, and have a plan in place for where you’ll stay. If you don’t know whether you live in an evacuation area, you can find out here. For maps to evacuation zones across the country, check out this list by flash.org.
|TSI TIP: If you know a hurricane is coming, make sure your gas tank is at least half full so you can leave without waiting to fill up. Lines may be long, prices may be higher, and gas supplies may run out in the rush to evacuate.|
- Prepare a go-bag: Create a “go-bag” that you can grab if and when you need to evacuate quickly. It should contain a disaster supply kit, flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, and copies of important personal paperwork. Check out ready.gov for a full list of what to include in your disaster kit.
- Accumulate supplies: If you aren’t required to evacuate and opt to weather the storm in your home, you may not be able to leave your home for several days due to flooding or blocked roads. Store enough food and water for three days for each member of your family, focusing on shelf-stable, ready-to-eat foods like canned goods, granola, protein bars, nuts, and other nutrient-dense, high-energy foods.
- Communicate with your family: Create a family communication plan, and choose an out-of-state contact you can call to check in with to let know you are safe. If you don’t live in a storm surge area but your parents do, make a plan for how you’ll keep in touch if they need to evacuate.
- Collect important paperwork: Make copies of important documents, such as proof of ownership documents, insurance paperwork, and personal identification, in case the original gets lost or destroyed. Store originals and copies in separate watertight containers.
- Make a plan for your pet: This includes setting aside pet supplies, creating an emergency kit for your pet, and what you’ll do if you need to evacuate. Check out PetMD for vet-approved hurricane safety tips for pets.
How to Prepare your Home to Weather a Hurricane
When a hurricane hits, there are two main dangers you will need to protect your home from: wind and flooding.
How to protect your home from wind damage
- Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to protect your car and house from falling branches.
- Secure and reinforce your roof, windows, and doors, including your garage door. If you don’t have hurricane shutters, board up doors and windows with plywood.
- Bring in loose, lightweight objects like patio furniture or bicycles, and anchor objects that are unsafe to bring indoors, such as propane tanks, so they don’t become projectiles in the wind.
Get more tips for how to protect your home from wind damage.
How to protect your home from flood damage
- Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts, and clear any clogged pipes to prevent unnecessary backups.
- Install a water alarm and sump pump with battery backup, as well as check valves in sewer lines, to prevent flood water from backing up.
- If you have the resources and ability, waterproof your basement.
If you don’t live in a storm surge area or you live in a high rise apartment building, you may not feel as concerned about flood damage. However, you should still take steps to prepare and protect your home and belongings against flooding. There is always a risk of flooding if it’s raining, and high rises are still subject to high winds that can cause significant damage to items left outdoors, as well as indoors if glass doors or windows break during the storm.
Beyond preparing for wind and flood damage, there are a number of other things you can do to protect your home and stay safe during a hurricane.
- Install a generator, or invest in a portable generator in case you lose power.
- Unplug electronics and gas appliances before you evacuate.
- Photograph the inside of your home, as well as valuable furniture or belongings, so you can document damage.
Protecting your Belongings
You will usually have a couple of days notice when a major hurricane is approaching. Your safety, and the safety of your children, pets, and other loved ones, should always be your first priority when it comes to hurricane preparation, but if you have advanced notice of an impending storm, you may be able to take steps to safeguard your belongings as well.
The simplest way to prevent flood damage is to move any valuable or sentimental pieces of furniture or artwork to higher floors in your home, but the most effective way to keep your belongings safe is to ship them out of the affected area using same-day moving services. If you don’t live in a flood risk or storm surge area, or you live in a high rise apartment or condo, shipping your treasured belongings, such as artwork, to safety can also help protect them from wind damage, including damage caused by broken glass.
With TSI’s same-day or next-day service, you can ship your valuables and other belongings to family and friends in a safe location, or to a storage facility to weather the storm.
If it’s raining, it can flood. Most home and auto insurance policies won’t cover flood damage, which is often the most significant cause of damage during a hurricane. Before disaster strikes, check your policy to see if you’re covered. If you aren’t, you may wish to look into purchasing additional flood insurance.
Before Disaster Strikes
For more information on how to create an emergency plan and get ready before a hurricane strikes, check out this guide from FEMA.