Hurricanes are among the most destructive and expensive natural disasters known to man. But how do you survive a hurricane? Preparing your home and family for a hurricane and learning how to react after a storm has passed are critical to protecting your property and keeping you and your loved ones safe and secure.
While we can’t predict when or where a hurricane will strike if you reside on the Gulf or East Coast, you may be more vulnerable. There are a few things you can do before the rain and winds start to keep you and your family safe. Following hurricane safety recommendations before the storm means you’ll be safer, from making an escape plan to checking supplies and protecting your property. Here are some hurricane preparation dos and don’ts.
What is a Hurricane?
A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone that can generate torrential rainfall, powerful winds, storm surges, and flooding over open water for two weeks or more and can travel the whole length of the eastern seaboard, including its coastal areas and barrier islands. According to the National Hurricane Center, a hurricane is defined primarily by its wind speeds, which must be 74 mph or greater (anything less, and the cyclone is classified as a tropical storm).
Hurricanes are monitored as they form in the Atlantic Ocean for six months of the year. While a storm can strike anytime, hurricane season along the East and Gulf Coasts begins in June and lasts through November 30th. However, the peak of hurricane season is from mid-August to mid-October, with most storms starting in September.
What Are the Potential Causes of a Hurricane?
Hurricanes are large storm systems that arise over the ocean and can move onto land. Three things must occur for a storm to form:
Hurricanes form only in tropical waters with ocean temperatures exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The warmer the water temperature, the more moisture churns and becomes storm fuel. When a hurricane crosses land, its fuel from moisture runs out, and the storm weakens. The longer a storm remains over water, the more likely it is to develop into a powerful storm system.
- When warm, moist air rises over the lake, it is replaced by cooler air. Clouds, rain, and thunderstorms develop until the storms increase and spin.
- Wind shear is the change in wind speed or direction that occurs vertically through a cyclone. A hurricane’s growth is aided by low vertical wind shear, and horotizal winds do not break it down.
Safety Guidelines for Hurricanes
First, you should understand the distinction between a hurricane “watch” and a hurricane “warning.” Knowing the distinction can assist you in comprehending the importance of the situation and the plans you’ll need to make.
- A hurricane watch indicates that hurricane conditions are expected, with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or higher. Hurricane watches are typically issued 48 hours before tropical storm-force winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour are expected to begin.
- A hurricane warning indicates that hurricane-force winds are imminent, and this warning should be regarded carefully. Hurricane warnings are issued 36 hours before tropical-storm-force winds are forecast to begin. This gives residents plenty of time to prepare for the storm.
You should and should not do some things when preparing for a hurricane. These are only a few of the most significant.
Before a Hurricane.
- Protect your property. Permanent storm shutters provide the best window and door protection. Another option is to board up your windows with 5/8″ marine plywood that has been trimmed to fit and is ready to install. Tape does not keep window glass from shattering.
- Use straps or additional clips to tie your roof to the frame framework. This will help to reduce roof damage.
- Trim the trees and shrubs near your property to reduce the possibility of broken branches and trash.
- Clear away clogged and loose rain gutters and downspouts to avoid misdirected floods.
- Determine how and where to secure your boat if you own one.
- Keep your basement products raised to avoid damage from even slight floods.
- Place valuables on high shelves or on your home’s second or third story. Photograph albums and valuable souvenirs are examples of this.
- Store any household chemicals on high shelves with tight-fitting lids. Chemicals that interact with floodwaters are highly hazardous.
- Consider constructing a safe room.
- Purchase a fire extinguisher.
- Ensure that all pets have identification tags.
- Make a file of documents to take with you in case you need insurance later! Driver’s licenses, social security cards, passports, prescriptions, tax statements, and other legal documents should be photographed or scanned. Upload the photographs to the internet for safekeeping. Hard copies should be kept in a watertight container that you will bring with you.
- Keep an emergency survival kit on hand in case of a power outage. This includes any prescription medications, three days’ worth of food and water (even for pets), and money.
- Find a list of all area emergency shelters. Know your escape route. If necessary, have a “to go” bag on hand.
- Fill plastic bottles halfway with water. Consider what you would require if you are isolated for several days and must endure a power outage.
- Fill up your vehicles completely.
- Install the Red Cross Emergency App on your iPhone or Android device. Alternatively, text “GETCANE” to 90999.
If you live in an area that experiences hurricanes, you should always have an emergency kit packed and ready to go. The kit should include the following:
- Water (at least one gallon per person per day for several days)
- Food (a supply of non-perishable food)
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio
- A seven-day supply of medications
- Baby and pet supplies (if needed)
- Swiss army knife
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape
- Manual can opener (for food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone chargers and a backup battery
- Copies of personal documents (medical information, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc.)
Make sure you have enough supplies for your entire family to last at least three days. If you can put together a longer-lasting emergency kit, do so. The sooner you can put this kit together, the better. You don’t want to be racing to the grocery store with everyone else who is only prepared for the hurricane when it’s closed at your door.
During a Hurricane
First, evacuate if advised to do so or if you believe it is unsafe to stay in your home. If you stay at home, follow these precautions to keep you and your family safe throughout the storm:
- Listen to a portable radio for critical storm updates, information, and instructions.
- Stay inside and keep all windows, skylights, and glass doors closed. Go to a secure location, such as an inside room, a closet, or the basement restroom.
- Never leave the safety of your home or refuge before receiving confirmation that the storm has gone. The storm’s eye may provide a brief and deceptive respite, with severe winds still on the way.
- If the power goes out, keep the refrigerator closed to preserve cold air confined and perishable food from spoiling.
- Follow all of the manufacturer’s directions if you use a portable generator. Generators should always be properly grounded to avoid electrical shock, and they should never be used inside, in garages, basements, or near windows, doors, or vents. Because generators emit carbon monoxide (CO), ensure sure your home has a functional CO detector.
After a Hurricane
After officials confirm that the storm has gone and it is safe to return home, you can begin to examine any potential damage to your home and property. After the storm has passed, follow these recommendations:
- If you were evacuated, do not return home until authorities say it is safe to do so.
- Avoid electricity lines that have fallen. Never touch anything that has come into contact with electricity lines, including water or puddles near downed power lines.
- Board up damaged windows to deter vandalism or extra weather damage and protect your property from further harm. Arrange for interim repairs that are reasonable.
- Be cautious of any gas lines that may have been damaged or broken as a result of the storm. Stay away from the property if a gas leak is detected until the utility company declares it safe.
- Be wary of storm-related risks such as flooding water, sharp or broken objects, damaged tree branches, or other structures that may have been damaged by high winds or water.
- Keep detailed records of your costs and keep all bills and receipts from interim fixes. (Avoid making permanent repairs until your Claim specialist has thoroughly examined the damage.) Keep detailed records of any other expenses.
- Any damaged personal property should be separated and inventoried. Make a record of any damaged contents, including a description of the item, the name of the maker, the brand name, the age, and, if known, the location and date of purchase. Include any photographs, videotapes, or personal property inventories that you may already have.
- If you believe your house is hazardous due to storm damage, contact your insurance carrier to discuss temporary housing options.
After the storm has passed, do not enter any structures unless you are certain they are structurally sound. Do not enter a building if you smell gas, see flood waters around it, or it has been destroyed by fire and has not been deemed safe by authorities. Keep an eye out for electrical sparks or frayed wires as well.
As you may have gathered, surviving a hurricane is not the most difficult undertaking in the world. However, there are other elements that might have a significant impact on the intensity of the issue, and you don’t want to be caught off guard by any of them. So, if you want to survive a hurricane and recover quickly from material losses, protect yourself by staying indoors. If you have the option, remain away from windows and in your safe room. When it comes to hurricanes and tornadoes, safe rooms are your best choice. Always have a supply store in the room and make sure you have a way to communicate with others. You’re undoubtedly carrying your phone, but you’ll want to save the battery until the power is restored. Put it on airplane mode and wait for the worst. After that, exit the shelter, assess the damage, and prepare to restart in the worst-case situation. This is how you get through a hurricane.