Typhoons and Hurricanes are huge oceanic tropical storm systems that form over warm ocean waters. The Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 to November 30. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. Overall September is the most active month of the year.
As these storms move they often head toward land and can affect areas more than 100 miles inland. Potential threats from hurricanes include landslides, tornadoes, powerful winds, heavy rainfall, coastal and inland flooding, storm surges, and rip currents. They can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.
If You Get A Hurricane Warning In Your Area Seek Shelter Immediately
As soon as you find out you are under a hurricane warning get indoors immediately. The first thing that you want to do is to turn on your local television or radio station, and listen to what your local authorities are telling you do do. This will also give you a chance to watch the weather and see satellite images of the storm, as well as damage it is causing in areas it is hitting before it hits you.
Evacuate If Told To
By far the most important thing to do is to evacuate if you are told by authorities to do so. Houses and possessions can be replaced, lives cannot. If you have the option of going to a designated storm shelter, this may be the best option. This is especially true if you live in a highly congested population and the highways are jam packed. Weigh out your options depending on your situation. The main thing is to evacuate if you are told to.
Remember to only use power generators out doors. And be sure to keep them away from windows so that the exhaust does not come inside your home, which can be deadly. When evacuating remember the safety adage “Turn around, don’t drown!”, meaning do not ever walk, swim, or drive through flood waters.
Sign up for your city’s or state’s local warning system. (The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.)
Be sure to know your area’s risk of hurricanes, and its related problems that go along with these large storms. If you are at risk for flash flooding you will want to pay particular attention to warning signs (such as heavy rain predictions).
You will want to find out what local shelter options are in your area as a last resort. This includes such things as a FEMA safe room as well as an ICC 500 storm shelter. The best protection is to get a hotel room or stay with family in a different city not in the path of the storm. But if you end up having to take shelter locally it is important to know these options ahead of time, not just before the storm.
Identify Local Shelter Options
If you have to shelter locally, and can’t make it to a public shelter you know is safe, the next best shelter is to get to a small interior windowless room in a building you know is sturdy. You will want this room to be on the lowest level that is not subject to danger of flooding.
Make & Practice A Family Hurricane Plan
Don’t just depend on your local community plans for everyone’s safety. Be sure to make plans of your own family. Plan how you will evacuate and where exactly you will go for shelter. It is wise to even do occasional family drills so that you are certain everyone knows the family plan, and can remember it without effort in a real emergency.
Family Hurricane Emergency Kits
Put together family “72 hour emergency kits” also sometimes called “bug out bags”. You can buy these pre-made (See Top 10 Premade 72-Hour Kits) kits, but you will also want to add your own items to each kit keeping in mind each person’s specific needs such as medication etc. Remember to include pets in this planning. The time of a hurricane evacuation is not the time to be trying to gather these supplies. This should be prepared for well in advance.
Prepare Your Home & Documents
When purchasing a home, try to buy one in areas that don’t have a history of flooding in previous storms. Try to find some higher ground if possible. Also protect your property itself by keeping drains and gutters clean and free of debris so that storm water can leave your property as obstruction free as possible. This would include installing check valves in plumbing where possible to prevent backups.
Install hurricane shutters as well for extra protection from wind and flying debris. Finally, have a fire & water proof safe where you can store your valuables, especially insurance and other critical documents. Be sure your insurance coverage is adequate and up to date.
Hurricane 36 Hours Out
Always have your TV or Radio news on so that you can hear the latest weather emergency instructions and updates. Now is also a good time to double check and re-stock your family emergency preparedness kits. Be sure things like food is not expired, and flashlight/radio batteries are fresh and full of charge. You will also want to make sure you have at least 3 days worth of cash on hand. Also make sure your kit first aid supplies are full and adequately stocked (including individual medications).
Go Over Family Emergency Plan
This is also a good time to go over your family emergency plan with everyone to make sure you all know what to do. Make sure everyone knows how to communicate with each other. For example text messages is usually more reliable than cell phone calls during times of high use such as emergencies. Plan for things like your cell phones not being operable. Perhaps you can have battery operated short wave radios in each kit, and make sure each family member is trained on how to use them.
Be sure your vehicles are in good working condition, gas tanks full, and stocked full of emergency supplies and changes of clothes.
On the off chance that you have NFIP flood protection, your policy may cover to $1000 in flood protection measures, such as sandbags and water siphons, to secure your property. You should keep duplicates all things considered and a record of the time spent playing out the work. They ought to be submitted to your protection agent when you record a case to be repaid. See www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/137860 for more information.
Other Safety Measures
Do a quick search around the outside of your home and bring in any lightweight or loose objects that could become projectiles in high wind situations (such as yard or patio decorations or furniture, garbage cans etc.) Secure and anchor (or take down) things that could be dangerous that you cannot bring inside such as propane tanks, swing sets, trampolines etc.
It is important to cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters are the best protection for windows. And they are the easiest to use, once they are installed. However the next best option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood or exterior grade plywood.
Hurricane Is 6-15 Hours Out
This is the time to make sure all of your batteries, particularly things like your cell phone batteries, are charged up so that you have them when your power goes out. Again continue to check the latest TV/Radio news reports ever 30 minutes or so you stay up to date with predictions and authority instructions.
Close your storm shutters or finish up installing any remaining windows you need to cover with plywood. If your area is not one where they are recommending you to evacuate, be sure and stay at home and get in touch with friends and family to make sure you have a head count and know where everyone is.
Turn your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings and only open when absolutely necessary so that your food will last as long as possible in case of a power outage. It is a good idea to keep a thermometer in the refrigerator so that you can check the temperature once the power has been restored. This will help you know how likely it is that any food may have spoiled.
Safety During The Storm
As before the storm, during the storm it is important to continue to listen to TV and Radio news reports so that you are aware of increasing dangers and orders to evacuate. If told to evacuate do so immediately but be careful not to drive around any barricades. Listen for current emergency information and instructions.
If you find yourself trapped in a building by flooding, be sure and go to the highest level of the building, that is not an attic. You never want to go inside a closed attic or you could be trapped in there as the water rises. Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.
Being Safe After Storm
After the storm it is important to continue to listen to TV and radio news report for safe areas and areas and hazards to avoid. If you find any dangers such as downed power lines to report them to the authorities immediately so that they can make everyone else aware to avoid them.
Be very careful during clean-up. Always wear protective gloves and other clothing, and try to buddy up and work with others around. Do not touch any electrical appliance or equipment if it is wet, or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so be sure and turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to avoid getting an electric shock.
Avoid wading in flood water which can contain dangerous debris and animals. Also underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water and make it extremely dangerous. Only make phone calls in emergencies. Many people will be needing to make calls and if everyone only makes calls that are for emergencies the lines will be more free and likely to go through. Texting is generally more reliable than voice phone calls during times of emergency. Contact your insurance company for any insurance claims. Be sure to document any property damage with photographs.