If you lived in the South during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons you already know more than you ever cared to about hurricanes, how to prepare and the damage they leave behind. In case you are new to the area or just need a reminder, this is a complete resource for hurricane preparation and safety for your home, your family and your pets. We spend six months out of every year watching the Atlantic for tropical disturbances, named storms and cones of probability. Thankfully we have had quiet storm seasons the past several years (knock on wood), but we still need to stay up-to-date on how to keep our families safe. Please read this, pin it, print it, bookmark it – keep it handy. Rest assured, if you are ever told to “batten down the hatches”, this article contains everything you need to know about hurricane preparation and safety! (This article contains affiliate links)
Runs from June 1st through November 30th
Hurricane Watch: issued 24-36 hours before expected landfall
Hurricane Warning: issued when sustained winds of 74 mph (or higher) can be expected within 24 hours OR LESS. Weather and traffic conditions can start to deteriorate rather quickly.
Hurricane Categories: A hurricane is a violent storm originated over tropical waters with sustained winds over 74 mph. The winds blow in a counter-clockwise direction around the center. Storms with an organized center, also referred to as “the eye”, are generally more powerful and hit with higher intensity. Storms are categorized by the wind speed.
• Full tank of gas. Fill your gas tanks as soon as a Hurricane Watch is issued.
• Cash for a week, do not count on credit cards.
• Candles and lighters.
• Radio, battery operated.
• First Aid kit.
• Medication for two weeks.
• Cell phone chargers: solar and for the car.
• Propane gas for the grill and transformer.
• Food: non-perishable items, bread, peanut butter, crackers, canned goods (don’t forget the can & bottle opener).
• Baby care: diapers, formula, water for formula and baby food.
• Pet care: food, medications, safe place for them to stay in case you evacuate, and of course bring them inside if you stay at home. Do NOT leave pets at home unattended if you evacuate.
- Familiarize yourself with local storm shelters, hotels with emergency generators, and evacuation routes.
- Decide if/ when you will evacuate.
- Share your plan with your friends and employer. Know their plans as well.
- Complete this emergency information sheet (PRINTABLE). Keep one with you and exchange them with several of your friends.
- Put up hurricane shutters. (Don’t wait until the winds increase).
- Remove all outside furniture, potted plants, pool equipment, satellite dishes and other lose items and bring them inside.
Stay at home vs. Evacuating:
- When winds exceed 40 mph Fire rescue, Police, Medical and the power company will not travel. Therefore you must be confident that you can stay safely at home and not need emergency help during or immediately after the storm.
- If you remain at home, utility services may be disrupted during and for several days after the storm, this includes phone, cable, electrical service, water and sewer.
- All bridges will be locked in the down position. No motor vehicles will be permitted to cross a bridge until it has been inspected for safety purposes.
- If you evacuate you may not be allowed BACK into your neighborhood until the roads are cleared and safe to travel, this may take hours or DAYS.
If you stay at home:
- Place important papers in a water proof container: insurance policies, ID, stock certificates, bonds, credit cards, phone numbers, irreplaceable documents, cash for several days.
- Prepare a “safe room” in the house. This is preferably a room without any windows, such as a large closet. Plan on riding out the storm in there with the kids and pets.
- Take pictures or video of your personal belongings, and keep them in a safe place, in case you need to file an insurance claim after the storm.
- Fill your bathtub with water and small amount of bleach. Adding 8 drops of (unscented) regular bleach per one gallon of clear water makes it drinkable. This tub of water can be used for food preparation, flushing toilets and washing. This flyer from the CDC explains it all!
- Freeze bottles of water. If the power goes out, move the frozen bottles to the refrigerator and coolers to prevent your food from spoiling.
If you plan to evacuate:
- Get on the road sooner rather than later. Traffic gets increasingly worse the closer the storm gets and driving conditions deteriorate quickly.
- Do not evacuate into the projected path of the storm. Take into consideration that the expected path may change once the storm makes landfall.
- Take pictures or video of your personal belongings, and bring it with you, in case you need to file an insurance claim after the storm.
- Bring important papers in a water proof container: insurance policies, ID, stock certificates, bonds, credit cards, phone numbers, irreplaceable documents, cash for several days.
- Check all faucets and make sure they are in the closed position.
- Turn off electrical breakers and water lines. Turn off air conditioning units and appliances to prevent damage from power surges.
- Tell a neighbor about your evacuation plans and give them your contact information.
Would you evacuate or ride the storm out at home?