How to Prepare for a Hurricane: The Ultimate Preparedness Plan

The National Weather Service says there are an average of ten tropical storms each year in the United States, and six of these storms become hurricanes. So, in an average 3-year period, about five hurricanes hit the country that can kill about 50 to 100 individuals anywhere from Texas to Maine.

These devastating calamities can cause extensive property damage and disruption to everyday life. But with the right preparation, you can protect your family and property from a hurricane’s wrath.

This guide will provide the ultimate hurricane prep tips to help you prepare before and during a hurricane. It will also include information about the potential types of damage you could experience, especially if you live in a hurricane-prone area like Texas, Florida, and Louisiana.

What to Do Before a Hurricane

Make an Emergency Plan

As soon as you hear about a hurricane warning, create an emergency plan, which can include the following:

  • A list of emergency phone numbers, such as your local police and fire departments, your insurance company, the American Red Cross, and a reliable restoration contractor. Put these numbers in your phone and keep them handy.
  • A plan for evacuation, including safe places or the nearest shelter locations to go if necessary. Be sure to map out routes in advance and practice evacuating with your family before an emergency arises. 
  • Instructions on how to turn off utilities such as electricity and water if necessary. Also, make sure you know how to shut off the main power switch.

Once you’ve created your plan, share it with your family members and keep a copy in a safe and accessible place.

Make an Emergency Kit

An emergency kit includes items such as:

  • A battery-operated radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Non-perishable food (that doesn’t need to be cooked)
  • Bottled water (drinking and cooking)
  • First aid supplies
  • Copies of important documents like birth certificates and insurance policies

Tip: A fire extinguisher should always be available in case of electrical fires. Inform everyone in the household where to find and how to use it.

Secure and Reinforce Your Home

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, take the following measures to secure and reinforce your home:

  • Trim dead branches or cut down trees that may pose a danger during a hurricane.
  • Clear gutters of debris and check the roof for any loose shingles, leaves, or tiles.
  • If possible, secure all windows, doors (including garage doors), and storm shutters with strong materials like plywood. Your window frames and exterior doors should also be reinforced with metal bars or storm shutters.
  • Elevate furniture, electrical equipment, and other valuables up off the floor in case of flooding.
  • If you have a generator at home, an electrician should properly install it before operating it.
  • Check your carbon monoxide (CO) detector and ensure it works properly to avoid CO poisoning.

Ready Your Car

If you own a car, ensure it is ready for an emergency. Have your vehicle checked by a mechanic to ensure it is working correctly, and have an emergency kit in the trunk with essentials like jumper cables, a flashlight, road flares, basic tools (like a tire repair kit), and water. Also, make sure your car’s gas tank is full in case you need to evacuate quickly.

Stay Informed About a Hurricane Watch or Warning

It’s important to stay informed about the weather conditions leading up to and during a hurricane. Listen for updates on the radio, television, or online for information about any potential evacuation orders. Follow official channels to get the most accurate and up-to-date information.

What to Do During a Hurricane

Listen for Evacuation Orders

Tune into local news channels or visit your county’s website for potential evacuation orders. Keep tabs on the storm and listen carefully to instructions from emergency personnel.

Turn Off Utility

If instructed by your local government, turn off your home’s main power switch and water and gas valves to prevent further damage.

If Told, Stay Home and Away From Windows

When a storm hits, remain calm indoors in an interior room away from windows or glass doors. Seek shelter in a basement if possible, and stay away from flood-prone areas. Floodwaters may contain hidden hazards that are dangerous when in contact with your skin.

Evacuate if Advised

If you are instructed by the local authorities to evacuate immediately, follow the designated routes provided. If you have time before evacuation, double-check if all windows, doors, and shutters in your home are secured, and do so if not.

Also, when driving, remember the phrase, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!” and avoid flooded roads. This means that if you come upon a flooded road, turn around and choose an alternate route.

Don’t Forget Your Pets

If you plan on evacuating, make sure to bring your pets with you. They are also at risk during a hurricane and must be taken care of. Remember to include emergency supplies for them, such as:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Leashes
  • Beds
  • Medical records
  • Toys

Check Your Family and Friends

Check your family and friends during the storm with the communication channel you agreed upon beforehand. This can help ensure everyone’s safety and provide a sense of comfort during the storm.

What Could Happen After a Hurricane

When a hurricane hits, it could cause any or all of the following:

Injuries and Deaths

Unfortunately, some people are killed in hurricanes due to strong winds, floods, or flying debris. Injuries can be minor scrapes and bruises to more serious wounds, such as broken bones.

Power Outages

Hurricane-force winds and flooding can damage power lines and equipment, resulting in lost power. This can disrupt daily life, as you may be without electricity or internet access for days or weeks.

Infrastructure and Property Damage

One of the most visible effects of hurricanes is infrastructure and property damage. The powerful winds, flooding, and storm surges from hurricanes can damage buildings, destroy homes, uproot trees, and topple power lines. This damage can take a toll on people’s lives, homes, and neighborhoods, with many struggling to rebuild after the storm.

In addition, flooding can cause significant damage to homes, businesses, and personal property. That’s why many homeowners and business owners call water damage restoration professionals for help. These professionals are trained to inspect and remediate water damage, often using specialized techniques like dehumidification, drying, and mold removal.

Economic Impacts

Hurricanes can also significantly affect local economies, with businesses and industries suffering significant damage. This damage can mean people are out of work, and economies stay in recession for months or even years. The long-term economic impact can be significant, delaying local growth and investment.

Moreover, you may have to foot the bill yourself if you don’t have insurance to cover your property’s restoration costs. This can be a financial burden for people already struggling to rebuild their lives.

Long-Term Health Effects

While it may seem like the immediate impact of hurricanes causes the most damage, the long-term health effects can be just as devastating. Floodwaters can carry hazardous materials and cause structural damage to buildings, leading to respiratory infections, skin rashes, and other health issues. 

Studies also show that hurricanes can cause an increased risk of mental health disorders in some people.

Environment and Wildlife

Hurricanes affect the environment and wildlife, with a storm surge and a severe tropical storm leading to a loss of vegetation along the coast and damage to wetland habitats. Also, hurricanes can cause water pollution and threaten wildlife populations, leading to long-term ecological hazards.

The Bottom Line: Preparation Is Key to Stay Safe Before and After a Hurricane

While hurricanes are a fact of life for many people who live in areas prone to these storms, the impact of the storms can be felt for years to come. However, with proper planning and resilience, you can protect yourself, your family, your pets, and your house or business from the devastating effects of these disasters. So, before the next hurricane season, review these hurricane safety tips to ensure you’re prepared for whatever comes your way.

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