Preparing for a Hurricane
Recent hurricanes that have battered the gulf and eastern coastal states highlight the importance of preparedness – especially during hurricane season. They serve as reminders to get evacuation plans in place and ensure any needed supplies are stocked and ready to go. Whether you’re at home or on the job when one hits, the best time to prepare for a hurricane is before it strikes.
The National Hurricane Center indicates that being prepared in advance for potential risks and acting on those preparations when alerted by emergency officials are vital to being safe in a hurricane. It’s important to know how and when to prepare and what to bring with you in case of evacuation.
Ways to Prepare
When a hurricane hits the situation can be tense and dangerous, so that’s not the time to begin planning your evacuation or gathering supplies. Evacuation decisions should be made ahead of time and supplies stored in an easy-to-locate spot. Here are some helpful suggestions of how to prepare for a hurricane:
1. Plan for Evacuation
Prior to a big storm, it’s smart to have an evacuation plan in place and know where shelters outside the evacuation zone are located. Identify different evacuation routes and test them in good weather. Check that your vehicle is in good working condition and full of gas. Pro Tip: ensure you also have an evacuation plan for your pets, whether it’s taking them with you or identifying shelters that allow pets (i.e., not all do).
2. Load up on Supplies
Keep a hurricane kit handy that you can grab on your way out the door during evacuation. You may need this in your car, at your next destination, or if you find yourself at a temporary shelter. More on what to pack in your kit below.
3. Gather Documents
Make copies of important documents such as birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, proof of ownership of houses, boats, and cars, and insurance paperwork. Store the documents in the hurricane kit. You can also digitize these files and upload to the cloud where you can retrieve them later. Pro Tip: ensure you have good photos of your home and its belongings and your cars; in case of damage, having good photos of your assets can speed up the insurance process.
4. Batten Down the Hatches
Cover exposed windows with plywood and pick up any debris in the yard that could cause damage in hurricane-force winds. Secure outdoor furniture or objects that could be picked up during high winds. Check your roof for loose shingles and clean the gutters.
5. Power Up
Electricity is sure to go out in a hurricane and there’s no telling where your next charge could come from. Ensure all electronics are fully charged and have extra batteries and chargers. You may want to invest in a portable power solution like the Goal Zero Yeti lineup. Back up computer files and photos to the cloud or on external drives. If you live in an area with regular hurricanes, consider purchasing a generator. Pro Tip: as you prepare to evacuation your home, unplug appliances and, if possible, check with authorities regarding whether to turn off utilities.
Pack an Evacuation Kit
Whether you evacuate to relatives in the next county or at a temporary shelter, you will need certain essentials. This ‘go bag’ or ‘evacuation kit’ should be prepared and packed before a hurricane hits and stored somewhere that’s easy to grab as you leave. Everyone should know where it is and what’s inside. The following items should be in stored in your evacuation kit:
- Important documents, cash, checkbook
- First aid kit
- Battery powered or hand-crank radio
- Flashlight and batteries
- Local maps
In addition to the contents of the evacuation kit, you should also load up and bring the following essentials as you evacuate:
- Water (one gallon per person per day)
- Blankets and/or sleeping bags
- Extra clothing (don’t forget socks and underwear)
- Toiletries and toilet paper
- Non-perishable food (pet food if needed)
Being prepared up front is the best defense for facing hurricanes. Keep up to date on weather conditions from the National Weather Service , the National Hurricane Center, and your local weather information center. Give yourself enough time to evacuate and don’t try to ride the storm out if local authorities have told you to evacuate. When it’s time to go, use the checklist to ensure you have packed and gathered the right essentials and can evacuate safely.