As we all know, this time of year is hurricane season and it looks like we may be right in the path of a major storm. To be truly prepared, it is important to know what to do before, during and after a hurricane.
Before a Major Storm
In order to prepare for a major storm there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and your family:
- First, prepare an emergency kit. Your kit should include plenty of bottled water, ready-to-eat canned foods, canned juices, staples items which won’t spoil, packaged comfort foods, vitamins, food for infants, pet foods, etc.
- Design a communication plan. Figure out how your entire family will get emergency alerts. Will you have a phone tree? Email? How will you communicate if phones and internet go down? Discuss how you will let one another know you are safe. Figure out a meeting place, if possible, to get together after the hurricane is over.
- Learn your community’s evacuation route in order to find higher ground. Figure out which way you would need to go in the event of an evacuation.
- Secure your property. Cover all of your house’s windows and install storm shutters if possible. If you can’t install storm shutters, board up your windows with plywood. Installing straps and clips to your roof can help reduce damage.
- Trim the shrubs and trees around your home; clear any clogged rain gutters or downspouts.
- Reinforce your garage doors. Wind can cause expensive structural damage. Bring in all outdoor furniture and garbage cans and store in your garage.
- Purchase a backup generator and a weather radio. A weather radio will typically work even when nothing else does.
- If you live in a high-rise, take shelter somewhere below the building’s 10th floor.
During a Major Storm
During a hurricane, stay away from the windows and glass doors. Find an interior room, closet or bathroom on the main level of your home, one without windows. If you believe flooding will become a problem, turn off your electricity at the main breaker. And if the power does go out, unplug your appliances and electronics. During the storm, don’t use your computer or other electrical appliances to avoid lightning strikes. Don’t take a bath or shower during the storm, either.
During a storm, flying debris can be a safety risk. Stay indoors. Many people want to go outdoors when the eye passes over because they feel that it is safe. Don’t! You never know when the winds will pick back up. And don’t go outside just to ‘see what it feels like’. Heavy rains also produce flash floods and storm surges, which are very dangerous.
After a Major Storm
After the major storm listen to local officials for updates and instructions. They will probably advise residents to stay indoors until the entire area has been checked for safety. If the power is out, consult your weather radio for updates.
Check on family and friends by text or social media if possible. If you have been evacuated, only return home when authorities say it is safe to do so.
When driving or walking around the area look out for debris and downed power lines. Don’t drive or walk through flood waters; fast moving water can easily sweep you or your vehicle away. And those flood waters could be electrically charged from a downed power line.
Make sure to photograph the damage to your property. This will help assist you when filing an insurance claim. If you do have damage to your property, avoid further damage by covering a damaged roof with a tarp, boarding up windows, etc.
Follow these tips to stay safe this hurricane season!