How to Prepare for a Hurricane

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Every year, starting mid-May until the end of November, residents worry about how to prepare for hurricane season. This period is a testing time for those living around the coastal zone or in high-risk areas.

While many U.S. coastal regions are most affected – flooding and winds can wreak havoc in the inner parts of the country, too.

Hundreds of people lose their lives, and properties get destroyed due to storm surges in the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. The windfall and rains create disruptions to essential services like transportation and communications.

These tropical depressions may cause water, electricity, and gas outages. And drinking water may get polluted, as you face the dangers of drowning, wind-borne diseases, etc.

What You Should Include in Your Disaster Preparedness Plan

When thinking about how to prepare for a hurricane, know that authorities issue a hurricane watch. Be aware of this imminent threat and take certain precautions ahead of time.

Staying prepared with an emergency plan is one of the best solutions in this situation.

Stay Informed and Recognize the Warnings

There are various ways you can stay updated about the adverse weather conditions. Reliable sources like the National Weather Service provide real-time notifications with the NOAA Weather Radio.

You can also get information from the Emergency Alert System (EAS) or sign-up for local community alerts. Familiarize yourself with the terms these sources use to describe the changes in the conditions.

Download the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) app and take the appropriate steps. When a warning gets issued, it means the hurricane can hit within 36 hours. So, have your evacuation plan ready.

Plan for Evacuation Before a Disaster Happens

Time is scare when you plan to prepare for a hurricane, so you cannot be fidgeting for things to bring along when you evacuate. You should have an emergency kit for your entire family long before hurricane season arrives. Make plans for kids, persons with disabilities, seniors, and pets.

During a major storm event, the government will give you evacuation instructions. But creating the plan months ahead will take you to the nearest shelter sooner. Use the FEMA app to locate a shelter close to you and an emergency route.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane: Tips to Be Disaster-Ready

  1. Stock up on emergency supplies, such as medicine, pet supplies, batteries, water, and canned food. Make sure they do not go bad by replacing them with new ones.
  2. Stock your vehicle with tools, flashlights, first aid kit, jumper cables, warm clothes, protective gear, etc. Remember to fill the gas tank.
  3. Don’t leave important documents at home, where it can flood. Carry them in a waterproof container to keep them dry. You can even upload them to a cloud service or an online storage site.
  4. Carry your smartphones or laptops that allow you to communicate with your family or out-of-state contacts. In case your family gets separated, this contact can reconnect you. So, practice this emergency communication plan with your household.

Protect Your Personal Property

Wind and flooding can cause trees to uproot or fell the branches on your property. So, cut weak branches or remove the trees. Likewise, you can replace rock or gravel landscaping with concrete, which is more stable in high winds.

Reinforce the elements of your building like doors, windows, the roof, and so on. Use storm shutters or fit plywood panels to the windows to prevent them from breaking. Or, you can build a FEMA-complaint safe room at your house to protect yourself without having to evacuate.

Make your home or business flood-resistant by sealing wall openings, electrical outlets, and vents. Install a garage door that offers impact protection. Clean your gutters and use “check valves” in sewer pipes for proper drainage and prevent flood water’s backflow.

Review Your Flood Insurance

Have a hurricane season insurance checklist to understand what is covered. Review if it will be sufficient to help you replace your belongings. How to prepare for a hurricane depends on the extent of damage you may expect. Think of the possibility that you may have to repair or rebuild your property from the bottoms up if you face storms every year.

If your property insurance does not cover flood losses, buy flood insurance separately. Since it takes effect 30 after the purchase, it is vital to act soon.

Businesses also get affected by hurricanes; so, you must have an emergency business response and continuity plan. Augment your insurance policy if what you have now is not adequate to help you recover the losses.

Staying Safe During the Hurricane

Even if you do not receive the mandatory evacuation order, you may still want to move to higher ground. If you have livestock, it is better to move the animals before things turn this bad. Stay on the routes designated by the authorities to reach a shelter. Don’t take shortcuts as smaller roads may be impassable.

If you stay home, close all the windows and glass doors, and know that you may lose power and water supply. Go to the lowest level of the building, which is not likely to flood. Stay in a room without any windows.

Do not operate a generator, grill, camp stove, or gas-powered tools in enclosed areas. Place them outside, at a distance of at least 20 feet from vents or entrances. If roads are blocked, you may not leave the premises for days. So, make arrangements for food, water, and other necessities.

Returning Home After a Hurricane

Once you hear an announcement from the public officials, you may return to your home. But you should follow some safety precautions, such as:

Avoid floodwater: Do not wade in dangerous debris or drive through floodwater. The water may contain metal, glass, sewage, or downed power lines that discharge electricity.

Be careful with electricity: Do not use electrical equipment while standing in wet areas. Better yet, turn off the fuse box until you get a thorough property inspection.

Clean up: Wear protective clothing to limit your exposure to fungal growth. Follow safety protocols while cleaning out your home. Throw out food items exposed to flood water.

Document the losses: Click pictures of the damaged areas on your property. Keep your policy number handy and call your insurance company as soon as you can.

Since the communication lines will most likely remain down after the hurricane, save your calls for emergencies. Let a few contacts know that you are safe and keep in touch over social media or text messages.

If your roof or other structures have sustained damage, make temporary repairs. Save these bills and records of other expenses that are tax-deductible.

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