Hurricanes can cause some serious damage. The can produce winds exceeding 155 miles per hour as well as tornadoes and microbursts. Storm surges along the coast can occur and cause destruction from heavy rainfall. Floods and flying debris from high winds can be devastating and deadly. Heavy rains from hurricanes moving to mountainous region can trigger landslides or mud slides.
Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November 30. Follow these tips to prepare your home and family for a possible emergency.
To prepare for a hurricane, you should:
- Build an emergency kit.
- Make and practice a family emergency plan. Learn the community hurricane evacuation plan and practice with your family.
- Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood prone. This way, you will know if your property will be affected when a storm surge or tidal flooding are forecasted.
- Identify levees and dams in your area. Determine if they posed a hazard to you.
- Secure your property:
- Cover all your home’s windows. Consider permanent storm shutters which offer the best protection. Or board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape will NOT prevent windows from breaking.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure to reduce roof damage.
- Keep tree and shrubs around your home well-trimmed – this will make them more wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Reinforce your garage doors – if wind enters the garage, it can cause serious damage.
- Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans or anything else not tied down outside.
- If you have a boat, plan how and where it will be secured.
- Install a generator for emergencies.
- If you are in a high-rise building, prepare to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
- Consider building a safe room.
- Get flood insurance to protect your family and property from flood damage.
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or television for information.
- Secure your home, close storm shutter and secure outdoor items or bring them indoors.
- Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise turn refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Avoid using the phone, unless it’s a serious emergency.
- Secure your boat, if you have the time.
- Ensure you have a supply of water for sanitary purposes (cleaning and flushing toilets).
- Fill the bathtub or other large containers with water.
- Keep food safe during and after an emergency.
Evacuate under the following conditions:
- If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Follow their instructions.
- If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure – they are particularly hazardous during a hurricane even if they are well fastened to the ground.
- If you live in a high-rise building – hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
- If you live on the coast, floodplain, island waterway or near a river.
- Learn more about evacuating yourself and your family.
If you are unable to evacuate, go to a wind safe room. If you don’t have one, follow these guidelines:
- Stay indoors during a hurricane and stay away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
- Close curtains and blinds and keep them closed. Stay put if things seem quiet, it may be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
- Avoid elevators.
Returning to your home
- Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
- If you are separated from your family, use your family communication plan or contact FEMA.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Watch out for fallen objects – downed electrical lines and weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.
- Walk carefully around the outside of your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
- Inspect your home for damage and take pictures of any damage you find. If you have any doubts about safety, have a qualified building inspector or structural engineer inspect your home.
- Use battery-powered flash lights in the dark. DO NOT use candles. The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering your home, as the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
- Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Keep an eye out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until it is confirmed that it is not contaminated.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Wear protective clothing when cleaning up.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar enclosed areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up and linger for hours, even after the generator has been shut off.
If you cannot return home and need immediate housing, text SHELTER + your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
If you need longer-term housing, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources.