How to Prepare for a Hurricane

By Ebony Porter, July 26, 2018, Family, Hurricane Prep

Recent storm history shows that hurricanes are becoming more and more frequent. Preparing for a storm ahead of time can dispel the stress that often accompanies hurricane warnings and mandatory evacuations. Don’t wait for that moment.

Take steps to prepare yourself, your family and your pets with these simple hurricane preparedness procedures.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane | Bounce Energy Blog

Know Your Hurricane Terminology

When internet, radio and television reports are providing up to date information, knowing the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning ensures you understand the facts.

A hurricane watch is when there are sustained winds at 74 mph and hurricane conditions are possible. These watches are issued 48 hours prior to the expected landfall of tropical force winds, where wind speeds range from 39 mph to 73 mph. This head start allows for you to secure loose outdoor items such as bikes, tools, and chairs, install storm shutters and clean up tree branches hanging too close to your house.

A hurricane warning, on the other hand, is when hurricane conditions are expected. A warning is issued 36 hours prior to the onset of high tropical force winds and allows you and your family to review your hurricane preparedness plan.

A storm surge watch is a term for those particularly close to the coast. Rising water moving inland from the shoreline can create a life-threatening situation. These warnings are given 48 hours in advance.

A voluntary evacuation encourages people living in a certain area to evacuate, but they are not required to do so.

A mandatory evacuation is when emergency management officials have placed an emphasis on leaving the area to retreat to higher ground. It’s important to heed these warnings as they are given to save lives and prevent dangerous living conditions in the aftermath of a storm.

Hurricane Preparedness Kit

Assemble a basic kit that includes everyday necessities and is small enough to transport should you become displaced. Consider a backpack for ease of carrying. Your kit should also support family members who have minor illnesses or experience other unexpected traumas.

Your kit should include at minimum:

  • Water  one gallon per person for at least 3 days, used for drinking and sanitation
  • Food – Include non-perishables such as peanut butter, canned beans, canned pastas, nuts, and energy bars. This should last for three to seven days for each person and pet.
  • First Aid Kit – stock up on fever-reducing medications as well as bandages
  • Flashlight and radio– pack extra batteries or consider a hand crank radio
  • Cash – small bills including coins
  • Cell phone and ziplock bag– pack your charger and ideally a backup battery
  • Prescription medications – enough to last 7 days
  • Wipes and bags for personal sanitation
  • Identification for you and those with you
  • Manual can opener

If evacuating by car, consider these additional items that should last you for three to five days:

  • Cash, water, canned food and a first aid kit in a waterproof box. Each person (and pet) should have one gallon of water per day and enough for five days.
  • Full tank of gas, plus an additional full gas tank
  • Car charger for cell phone
  • Maps
  • Jumper cables
  • Glasses and contact solution
  • Infant formula with bottles, diapers, wipes and medications for baby
  • Important documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, medical information, financial documents and insurance cards. Put them in large Ziploc bags to keep them dry.
  • Toilet paper
  • Water proof shoes for each family member
  • Sleeping bag for each family member
  • Fill out and carry an “in case of emergency” (ICE) card for each member of the family with emergency numbers for family, friends and public services. ICE Cards are available for download from the American Red Cross.
  • A “Go-Bag” for each individual that includes clothes, toiletries, and a variation of the above supplies.
  • Photographs. Also remember to catalog your possessions with a digital camera of some sort and upload these images or video to a photo-sharing account online. That way, if anything is lost, your insurance will have an easier time of replacing them.

How to Prepare for a Hurricane | Bounce Energy Blog

Make a Hurricane Family Plan

Akin to a fire drill, gather your family to review your hurricane plan, whether you stay at home or decide to leave. When developing a plan, it’s important to keep these steps in mind:

  • Keep a record of emergency resources. The National Hurricane Center recommends you have on hand the contact information for a variety of government agencies and local resources. Make sure you write down the phone numbers for your local utilities, preferred repair companies, insurance company, Red Cross, and other emergency agencies. Put this information in a binder or notebook and keep it with your emergency supplies for fast reference.
  • Review your emergency supplies. This is also the best time to make sure you know how to work your hurricane shutters and backup power generator and to make sure you have all the accessories you need in your emergency supplies. Check your fuel and familiarize yourself with your generator at the start of each hurricane season, and you won’t have to worry about learning to operate it when the power goes out.
  • Prepare for evacuation by determining if there are hotels that would stay open during a storm or if you have family you can visit during a storm. Make sure the destinations you are considering are still open, and check with family members to see if they can still take your family in during a storm. You should also be prepared to board your pets, or make arrangements to take them with you in advance. By taking these steps beforehand, you won’t have to struggle to decide what to do or where to go when a storm has you in its sights.

If you stay home:

  • Locate a space in the house where you will shelter throughout the storm, preferably a room with no windows in the center of the home.
  • Stay connected during the storm with a radio and download the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app.
  • Keep a wrench and other tools close by to turn off utilities.
  • Move cars that are parked under trees.
  • Fill up bathtubs for sanitary use.
  • Children and pets won’t be allowed outside – have some cards and games on hand to keep the kids busy.
  • Make a plan to check on neighbors before and after the storm, especially the elderly.

If you evacuate:

  • Contact a friend or family member days prior to ensure you have a place to go. Ask if it’s ok to bring your pet.
  • Make sure car has full tank of gas.
  • Remember the saying “Turn around, don’t drown” and avoid flooded streets.
  • Notify neighbors that you’re leaving.
  • Turn off utilities prior to evacuating.
  • Prepare your home for the storm before you leave to minimize as much damage as you can.

Pet Safety

Plan ahead for the safety of your furry loved ones with these pet safety tips. Mandatory evacuations mean you’ll need to evacuate your pets with you.

  • Ensure they have an ID collar on with current information, as well as a leash and carrier for each pet.
  • Stock up on their food and medications.
  • Have a copy of their vaccination and health records in case you need to leave them.
  • Contact your local office emergency management to find the nearest shelter for pets and owners.
  • If checking into a hotel, call ahead to make sure they allow pets.
  • Bring litter box and extra litter for cats, as well as waste bags and pads for dogs.
  • For larger animals such as goats, cows, and horses, you’ll want to evacuate 72 hours in advance. Animal trailers aren’t stable in high winds on the road, so prepare to leave sooner rather than later.
  • Remember that standing water can contain bacteria and disease. Don’t allow your pets to drink from puddles after the storm. Keep pets on a leash or in a carrier to keep them away from downed power lines and fallen trees.
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