Learn how to protect your family and your home from hurricanes.
Getting to know a hurricane on a first-name basis is no friendly task, as proven by hurricanes like Sandy, Katrina and Irene.
Hurricanes inflict devastation from strong winds (including tornados), torrential rains and storm surges, which can lead to coastal flooding. Even inland, hundreds of miles from the water, flooding is a problem in low-lying areas near much of the Atlantic and Gulf coastlines.
The tropical storm season runs June through November for the Atlantic Seaboard, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea and Hawaii. When a hurricane is forecast, play it safe. Plan your response before the warnings come:
- Be in the know: Find out your vulnerability to flooding, wind and storm surge and whether you live in a mandatory evacuation zone. Visit the FloodSmart.gov website to see updated flood maps.
- Plan your escape: Map out several evacuation routes away from known flood areas. Your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter is a good source of help.
- Stock up: Keep materials on hand such as sandbags and plastic sheeting. Be prepared to board up doors and windows, and secure or remove loose items that are outdoors. Make an emergency kit and store it in a safe place.
Your emergency kit should include:
- A three- to seven-day supply of water (1 gallon per person per day)
- Nonperishable food or cooking tools, manual can opener, portable cook stove and fuel
- A change of clothing, seasonal gear and sturdy shoes
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- A first-aid handbook and kit, including prescription medicines
- Tools to turn off utilities, if you live in a hurricane surge zone
- Emergency tools, including a NOAA weather radio with battery backup and a portable radio (ideally hand-cranked and/or solar), flashlight, extra batteries and light bulbs, fire extinguisher, and a highway map of your county/parish
- An extra set of keys, cash and a credit card
- Important documents — stored in a waterproof container — including insurance, medical records, bank account numbers and Social Security cards
- Tune in: Monitor radio and local TV stations for evacuation orders. Act without delay to avoid traffic.
- Shut it off: If you are in a hurricane surge zone, keep written instructions on how to turn off your home’s utilities in a central location. For safety, gas, water and electricity should be shut off before you evacuate.
- Stay out of floodwaters: Just a few inches of moving water can sweep vehicles and people away.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also offers additional hurricane preparedness tips.