How to Prepare Your Home and Family for Hurricane Season
Did you know that the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 each year?
During this time, hurricanes can cause massive destruction, power outages, flooding, fires, and more – even hundreds of kilometers from the point of landfall.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to stay informed about potential hurricanes in your area and educate yourself on how to prepare both your home and family for hurricane season.
Here are 7 safety tips on how to prepare for a hurricane:
Hurricane Safety Tip #1: Reserve Water & Supplies
While regular storms can come out of nowhere, hurricanes are, for the most part, predictable within several days of landfall.
As such, it’s important to keep track of hurricane activity by listening to your local area radio, NOAA radio, or TV stations. This way, you’ll have the latest information and a clearer understanding of the hurricane’s movements, severity, and more.
Once you know when a hurricane is expected to impact your region, it’s important to stock up on clean drinking water and fill up your bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing the toilet and washing.
This way, if the power goes off, you’ll be well-stocked with clean water.
At the same time, it’s also important to stock up on some basic emergency supplies. This means food, medical supplies, and any other necessities that you may need.
If you don’t have one already, it’s a good idea to invest in a well-stocked emergency kit. They can be found in most large pharmacies, or you can purchase one from the Red Cross. Their kits start at just $27 USD and include all the necessities, including water, food, first aid supplies, blankets, masks, and more.
Keep in mind that some of the supplies in the kit can expire and will need restocking, so make sure to do an annual update.
Finally, you may also want to consider stocking up on other supplies such as extra batteries, candles or lamps with fuel, a portable NOAA weather radio, a wrench and other basic tools, and a flashlight.
Hurricane Safety Tip #2: Prepare an Evacuation Plan
First and foremost, to best prepare for a hurricane, it’s important that you and your family have a clear and seamless evacuation plan.
In some cases, you’ll have time to evacuate your home before the storm hits. While this can be a chaotic time, you’ll feel more prepared and less stressed if you plan in advance.
Depending on the size of your family, it may take some coordination and time to consider everyone’s needs. For example, if you’re living with older adults with health concerns, they may need extra attention, medication, and health equipment.
If you have young children in the house, you’ll also need to adapt your plan to suit their needs.
Keep in mind also that with the 2020 hurricane season coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, disaster preparedness plans must also include masks and social distancing.
Finally, if you have pets in the household, you’ll want to ensure their safety before, during and after the hurricane.
For more tips, check out our post on how to create a family emergency plan.
Hurricane Preparation Step #3: Secure the Exterior & Install Storm Shutters
In order to protect your home from any damage caused by the storm, it’s important to secure the doors and windows properly.
This can be done by installing storm shutters or impact-resistant glass on windows or doors.
If you have any old door frames or windows that need to be replaced, it’s best to do this before the hurricane season begins.
This also goes for replacing old garage doors and tracks. If your garage door is not approved for both wind pressure and impact protection, wind can leak into your home and cause damage.
If you don’t have time to take these measures, you can also nail pieces of plywood to your window frames and doors as a last-minute solution. These materials can be purchased at your local hardware store.
Lastly, you’ll want to seal any outside wall openings including vents, outdoor electrical outlets, and locations where pipes or cables go through the wall. These can be pesky entrance areas for wind and water that can cause damage inside your home.
We recommend using a high-quality urethane-based caulk to cover these up and prevent any water penetration.
Hurricane Safety Tip #4: Clean Up the Backyard
During a hurricane, flying debris can cause significant damage to your home. So if you have time, it’s best to clear your backyard of any loose debris that could be picked by the wind.
This includes cutting weak branches or loose shrubbery that could be picked up by the wind and cause damage to your home.
Gravel or rock landscaping can also be an area of concern since loose rocks can break windows and cause damage to the exterior of the home. If you have time and resources, it might be worthwhile to replace any gravel or rock landscaping with shredded bark or a lighter material that won’t cause as much harm.
It’s also important to bring in items that can be picked up by the wind, such as bicycles, patio furniture, potted plants, and toys. Make sure to put these types of belongings in a secure garage or inside your home.
If necessary, you may also want to secure any outdoor sculptures or ornaments with burlap or blankets tied with rope.
Hurricane Safety Tip #5: Power Up & Unplug Appliances
Before a hurricane hits, it’s important to charge your devices and unplug anything that could cause an electrical fire.
In many cases, hurricanes cause power outages, so it’s best to prepare in advance by charging your laptops, cell phones, batteries, and if you have a generator, test it out to make sure it will work as a backup.
It’s also a good idea to fill up your car’s gas tank – you’ll want to be prepared in case you have to evacuate your area.
Before the hurricane hits, you’ll also want to unplug appliances and household fixtures and move them away from exterior doors and windows. As well as store any breakable items or valuables in secured cabinets or cupboards.
Hurricane Safety Tip #6: Staying Safe During a Hurricane
If you’re at home during a hurricane, it’s incredibly important to stay in a secure room away from windows or glass doors. The safest areas of any home are interior rooms, closets, or downstairs bathrooms.
Remember to never go outside, even if it feels like the storm is winding down. If you’re in the eye of the storm, you may experience a temporary lull before the winds pick up again.
Rather than looking out a window or going outside to check on the storm, it’s much safer to stay updated by monitoring the Weather and Civil Service Bulletins or the NOAA radio.
Typically, hurricanes will last anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, so make sure to have access to your emergency supplies, food, and water.
Hurricane Safety Tip #7: Staying Safe After a Hurricane
In addition to preparing for a hurricane, it’s also important to stay safe after a hurricane is over.
First and foremost, stay clear of any flooded areas. Wait until the authorities have deemed the storm is over and it’s clear to go outside.
As we know, hurricanes can cause power outages which oftentimes causes people to use ‘fuel-burning equipment’ such as generators, charcoal grills, and camp stoves. However, the problem with this equipment is that when used indoors, they can create deadly carbon monoxide (CO) gas.
Lastly, if you did end up evacuating your home and wondering what to do next, refer to the Red Cross’ checklist on returning home after a hurricane or flood.
Thanks for reading! We hope that you learned a few ways to prepare for a hurricane and how to stay safe.