Warmer months are here, and that means hurricane season is fast approaching. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to make a plan. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, here are five hurricane-preparedness tasks to complete right now.
1. Learn about hurricanes.
The first step to preparing for hurricanes is to learn about them. Often, the more you know, the better off you’ll be. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:
When is the official start of hurricane season?
The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1 and continues until November 30.
Where do most hurricanes occur in the U.S.?
Hurricanes that start in the Atlantic tend to be significant threats to areas around the U.S.’s southern coasts, including Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. North Carolina and Virginia can also be hit by a hurricane, but with less-destructive power.
Identifying the risks of where you live and the potential impacts of a hurricane can help you prepare. Check out the flood zone map and the flood exposure map to get familiar with the chances of flooding in your area.
What’s the difference between a hurricane warning and a hurricane watch?
A hurricane watch means you should expect high winds and severe weather, possibly leading to a hurricane forming. Stay alert and keep your eye out for updates.
A hurricane warning is more severe. It signals that a tropical cyclone is in motion with wind speeds at 74 mph or higher within the past 36 hours.
2. Build an emergency kit.
If a strong storm hits your area, you’ll likely lose electricity or water. Be ready for anything that comes and build an emergency kit before the season even starts. Here are some items we recommend including in your kit:
- Water (a gallon per person per day)
- A can opener and canned food (tuna, veggies, beans, fruits, etc., that’ll last you several days)
- Prescription medication and glasses
- First aid kit
- Toilet paper and wet wipes
- Small trash bags
- Small tool kit
- Insect repellent
- Portable battery
- Printed maps
- Your pet’s food
- Whistle (to signal for help if needed)
Also, this build-a-kit checklist created by FEMA is a helpful tool to get your kit supplies in order.
3. Get your home ready.
Whether a hurricane hits or not, prepping your property will provide peace of mind.
Trim your trees and bushes.
Cut any weak trees and branches so they don’t damage your property with high winds.
Secure any outdoor furniture or items.
Furniture and loose items, like grills and potted plants, can become flying hazards. Anchor and secure these items so they stay put.
Inspect your roof, doors, siding, walls, and windows, and look for openings. Perform proper preventive maintenance and seal any gaps to keep water out.
Clean your gutters.
Clear leaves, sticks, and other debris from gutters so they don’t get clogged and cause flooding.
Verify insurance coverage.
Confirm your policy is up to date and you have adequate protection.
Locate all important documents.
Organize all your important documents and store them in a waterproof container. What forms? Think paperwork, such as:
- Social Security cards
- Marriage certificate
- Life insurance
- Power of attorney
- Birth certificates
- Beneficiary forms
- Retirement and pension plans
- Legal filings
- Adoption papers
4. Create an evacuation plan.
When disaster strikes, you may be forced to evacuate. Hurricane evacuations are ordered to protect people from life-threatening flooding and storm surges—never underestimate the power of nature! When there’s an evacuation order, immediately leave and take your emergency kit. You’ll need to get to a safe place—quickly. So you know exactly what to do and where to go, create an evacuation plan that includes:
• Your evacuation zone. Check official databases to identify your region and get current info on local disaster response, including recovery centers, flood maps, and more.
• Alternative shelter plans. Ask family or friends who don’t live in hurricane-prone areas if you can stay with them in an emergency.
• Assistance for pets, elderly, or disabled individuals. Arrange special plans for those who may need them.
• Meeting point. Evacuation orders often come as a surprise. Set a meeting point where your family can gather—and communicate the location of the meet-up spot to them.
5. Find ways to stay informed.
During a hurricane, regular lines of communication may be inaccessible. While Wi-Fi may be slower than usual or non-existent, it may be possible to get updates from websites, local radio stations, or TV channels. Here are some reliable websites you can use:
Also, hurricane-specific apps can give you updates:
Be Prepared, Be Safe
Being informed, prepared, and ready to act is crucial to staying safe during hurricane season. Make an emergency kit, get an evacuation plan, and keep an eye on the forecast. To take your hurricane preparedness one step further, check out this full hurricane guide that digs a little deeper.