Preparing for a Hurricane

It’s easy to think that you won’t ever have to deal with the destruction and horror of a hurricane. I know this, because for the longest time I didn’t think that I could ever be affected. I know now that preparing for a hurricane is not only important, but it can save your life, which is why I thought it was time to address this issue.

hurricane supplies on a table

Most of the time, you know when a hurricane is coming, which means that you will have some time to prepare and make sure that you and your family are ready to hunker down for as long as necessary. 

Not only do you need to have plenty of supplies on hand, but you also need to make sure that you are prepared in other ways, as well.

Supplies You Need

  • Food
  • Water
  • Emergency radio or ham radio
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Medical kit
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Medication
  • Cash
  • Area maps
  • Personal documentation
  • Pet food and supplies if applicable

Here is an excellent checklist from the American Red Cross.

General guidelines state that you need at minimum, one gallon of water per person per day. And for food, at a bare minimum you will need enough food for three days per person. 

To make sure that you can stay informed about changing weather conditions, you need to make sure that you have a hand crank or a battery powered radio. 

Here are my recommendations for the best emergency radios and the best ham radio base stations.

You additionally need to have flashlights. Do not rely on your cell phone flashlight as an extended power loss will leave you in the dark.

Keep plenty of batteries on hand to power your radios and flashlights. I switched to rechargeable batteries and I highly recommend you do as well. They are cost effective and will save you in the long run. 

You can also check out my recommendations on the best rechargeable battery chargers.

Keep a fully stocked medical kit that not only has bandages and medications, but also any extra vision correction devices that you need, such as glasses or contacts. 

Personal hygiene and sanitation items are also necessary. Keep in mind the needs for both men, women, and children when stocking up.

It’s also imperative that you have extra cash, a map of your area, and copies of all personal documents that you may need in case of a medical emergency, such as proof of address, proof of identification, and insurance information. 

Pack your birth certificates and homeowner’s insurance policy so that you won’t have to fight with the insurance company when the time comes.

If you have children or pets in your family, then you also need to make sure that you have supplies packed for them. 

This includes baby food, diapers, and formula for your baby. 

Your pets will need ID, food, extra water, and a collar and leash. If your pets require special medication, have extra on hand.

Finally, make sure that you have additional bedding and clothing for everyone in your family so that you can stay warm and dry. 

How to Prepare Your Home

boarding a window with plywood prior to a hurricane

In addition to making sure that you have ample supplies on hand for when a hurricane hits, you also have to make sure that you have taken time to prepare your home for potential damage. 

One of the most important things you can do is to cover your doors and windows with plywood or heavy-duty storm shutters to prevent them from being broken during the hurricane. Broken glass can cause significant injury under the high winds of a hurricane. 

You also need to make sure that you have removed all yard furniture, toys, trash cans, and other outdoor items so that they can’t be blown away or crash into your home. 

Fill your car’s gas tank, so you never know how long you may be without gas, and then park your vehicle where it will be protected, preferably in a garage or in a local parking shelter. 

I think that putting your vehicle on higher ground, when possible, will help to prevent it from becoming water damaged during the storm, and it is something that you should definitely consider, if possible. 

Inside your home, you need to make sure that all of your small appliance are unplugged and that you have taken time to turn off any propane tanks. 

Leave your refrigerator and freezer turned on, but make sure that you turn them to the coldest possible temperature and then avoid opening them so that your food will last as long as possible. 

By putting a thermometer in both your freezer and your refrigerator you will be able to tell if your food has gone bad or if it is still safe for you to eat.

Read more tips on preparing for a blackout to make sure you are prepared for an extended loss of power.

As the hurricane approaches you need to make sure that you continually check your radio, your county’s website, or the TV for updates on changes in the weather. 

Keep up to date on all emergency instructions that you need to follow. Make sure that your cell phone is charged so that you can use it even if you lose power in your home.

What to Do During the Hurricane

Leaving Your Home

It can be tempting to try to stay and stick out the hurricane, especially if you have done this in the past, but you need to make sure that your family is safe and that you evacuate if you are told to do so. 

Never ignore an evacuation notice.

If you do stay keep in mind not to drive through areas closed off by officials.

One important thing that many people forget in an emergency situation is that they should not drive around barricades.

Don’t do it.

I know that you want to get away as quickly as possible, but barricades are put up for a reason, and you can put yourself and your family in grave danger by driving around them. 

You may accidentally drive into very deep water without even knowing that it was there. 

Staying in Your Home

If you are going to stay in your home, then make sure that you and your family stay away from windows and doors, as these can easily shatter and cause terrible injuries. 

If you have an interior room in your home that is windowless, then this is where you will want to stay if you are riding out the hurricane.

Flooding can occur quickly and water levels can rise incredibly fast. 

When you notice that you have water in your home, then it’s important to get to a higher floor in your home. 

It can be very dangerous to try to stay on a lower floor, so make sure that you can easily move your survival kit with you or that it is already stored away from rising waters before the hurricane.

While waiting out the hurricane you will need to constantly monitor local weather conditions. 

This will not only tell you the severity of the storm and how much longer it is supposed to last, but will help you to more easily determine when it will be safe to leave your home. 

Make sure that you check for updated information on a regular basis, and if you are advised to evacuate, do so.

Sometimes, officials will release updated information and advise residents to evacuate. 

If this occurs, then you need to make sure that you avoid driving, swimming, or walking through flood zones, as it can be very difficult to stay on your feet and on the road. 

Trying to forge through running flood water can be deadly.

Make sure that you don’t use any kind of gas-powered generator inside your home, as this can release toxic fumes into the air. 

Instead, you need to make sure that it is set up outside and away from the windows of your home.

Here are my recommendations for the best portable propane generators

Having a generator during an extended grid down situation is a tremendous benefit.

Families with pets have to take special care of their animals to prevent them from panicking during a hurricane. 

Due to the high winds and loud noises that hurricanes can cause, many pets will be fearful and may try to escape the house or accidentally injure themselves or their owners. 

Securing animals in a crate or in a carrier is the best way to help them stay calm during the storm and to keep them contained. Make sure you keep an eye on them and ensure they are safe if you do crate them during the storm.

What to Do After the Hurricane

power line pole down across a street

Dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane can be exhausting and heartbreaking. 

You must be mentally prepared for possibility of significant damage and property loss.

Once the threat of a storm has passed and officials have stated that it is safe to leave your home, you will likely want to take stock of the damage and see what work you need to do to make repairs. 

At this stage, it is important to take stock of all damage and to follow a plan to handle any needed repairs as soon as it is safe to do so.

Document All Damage

One of the most important things that you can do after a hurricane is document all of the damage to your home and your possessions. 

Take pictures of everything on your property. 

This will make it significantly easier to file an insurance claim. 

Ensure that you write down everything in your home that was damaged and take photographs for proof.

File an Insurance Claim

After a hurricane, there are going to be dozens, if not hundreds, of families who are all trying to file a claim to have the insurance company check the extent of the damage at their home and provide them with compensation. 

It’s important that you file a claim as quickly as possible, as many insurance companies will respond to their customers in the order that they filed their claims.

Make Emergency Repairs

It’s tempting to try to make repairs to the damage that was done to your home, but you want to hold off on major repairs until after an insurance adjuster was able to see for themselves the damage that your property incurred. 

This doesn’t mean that you can ignore emergency repairs, however, as you need to go ahead and cover broken windows or holes in your roof to prevent rain from coming into your home and causing additional damage. 

Do not throw out any damaged items until your adjuster has seen everything.

Be Careful When You Clean

Never try to clean in an area that is still flooded, as you don’t know how dangerous the area is. 

Flood water can often be electrically charged by downed or underground power lines, and this is a deadly situation. 

You also don’t know what kind of glass, wild animals, or sharp metal may be in the area.

When you do clean make sure to wear gloves and eye protection. Always take precautions during a cleanup.

Find a Safe Place to Live

Unfortunately, your home may not be safe for you to stay in for a while. 

Being faced with an uninhabitable home is heartbreaking, but you need to move quickly to find somewhere safe for you to live. 

Many people opt to stay with family and friends, but there are some insurance policies that will give you money towards lodging, depending on your coverage. No what your insurance covers before the hurricane hits and prepare accordingly.

Limit Your Phone Calls

I know that the first thing that you will want to do after a hurricane is reach out to family, friends, and neighbors, but it’s important to remember that phone systems can be either very busy or completely down in the aftermath of a major disaster. 

Instead of tying the lines up, opt for using social media or text messaging to communicate with others if you have access.

Be Careful What You Eat and Drink

Tap water can be contaminated after a hurricane. Do not drink or eat anything that was prepared with tap water. 

Use only bottled water. This will help you avoid the medical problems that can occur from contaminated water. 

Additionally, you need to be very careful with any frozen or refrigerated food if you lost power, as you don’t want to accidentally eat spoiled food.

Conclusion

I know that planning for a hurricane is overwhelming, but it’s much better than the alternative of not being prepared for a major weather emergency. 

When you know what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, you are going to be prepared to keep yourself and your entire family safe during this scary time. 

I think that everyone needs to have a family plan for what you will do during a hurricane to stay safe, and this list will help you while you make your own hurricane safety plan.

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