In June through November each year, hurricane season occurs in the United States. In spite of increasingly sophisticated technology, hurricanes remain largely unpredictable, often making dramatic movements even at the last moment. For those along the Gulf Coast and Southeast United States, preparedness is key. Here are tips to ensure your household is prepared.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Area
One of the very basic ways to prepare is to become knowledgeable of the area you live in. The closer to the coast, the more likely you will be impacted by the highest winds and storm surge. Hurricanes often bring torrential rains, meaning potential flooding dangers, especially along lakes and rivers. You should also become familiar with potential shelters and evacuation routes.
Assemble Non-Perishable Food and Emergency Supplies
Your home should have a stock of non-perishable food items and emergency supplies throughout the hurricane season. Supplies should include:
- Canned tuna and meats
- Canned soup
- Bottled water
- Pasta & pasta sauce
- Peanut butter
You’ll also want to make sure you have a manual can opener, flashlight, batteries, cell phone charger, and battery-operated radio. Keep an extra supply of propane if you have a propane grill and gas if you have a generator. Personal hygiene supplies, pillows, and blankets can also play an important role in making sure your household is prepared.
Always try to keep your vehicle’s gas tank full and keep extra cash on hand during hurricane season.
Prepare Your Property
Keeping your property prepared for a hurricane includes keeping trees properly pruned and trimmed. It is important this is done before the approach of a storm. Any lawn furniture or objects that can turn into missiles in high winds should be secured or stored in a garage or outbuilding. Store trash cans or fill them with water. Do a walk around of your property to make sure any plants, material or tools are safely secured.
Prepare Your Home
As you enter into hurricane season, inspect your roof and siding, looking for loose shingles or siding material. Repair or replace as necessary. Check windows and doors for leaks. Check gutters to make sure they allow for proper run-off of heavy rains. Consider upgrading to more hurricane resistant doors and windows. If an investment in hurricane-resistant shutters is not in your budget, consider measuring, cutting and pre-drilling plywood panels to cover larger windows. This can prevent glass breakage from flying debris and limit potential water damage. As a storm approaches, many communities will make sandbags available. If your home is in a low-lying area, these can be invaluable in preventing water from getting into a home.
Prepare a Family Emergency Plan
The time to get your family ready for an emergency like a hurricane is before one is imminent. Meet to discuss plans should an emergency occur including how and where you should try to meet-up or communicate following the storm. Perhaps designate a family member who lives outside of the area to serve as a contact person for messages should communication become difficult.
Don’t forget to include plans for a family pet during a hurricane. Check to see if shelters or potential hotels are pet-friendly. Pack up food, water, and favorite toys for your pet, including treats and a favorite blanket. Do not leave pets outdoors or unattended during a hurricane.
“Hunker Down” or Have an Evacuation Plan
if you are going to stay in a home through the storm, stay in an interior room without windows. Be prepared to act accordingly should authorities call for an evacuation. Keep personal identification and insurance papers in a plastic bag and with you. Know your evacuation route and have a sufficient amount of cash and credit cards with you.
Following the Storm
What occurs following a storm largely depends on the size and impact of the hurricane. There may be roadways closed due to flooding or debris. There may be emergency steps you need to take immediately to best protect your property from further damage like tarping a roof. If there is any damage, contact your insurance carrier immediately. Begin documenting damage and the time you have invested in cleaning or repairing your property. Take photos. If your home is not safe for occupancy, seek shelter elsewhere, keeping track of all of your expenses.
Much of the damage that occurs from a hurricane happens due to a lack of preparedness. Poorly maintained trees can fall on homes or across roadways. People don’t heed the messages of emergency authorities. Outdoor furniture and other material are left outside. There are those who attempt to use a propane grill or generator in an enclosed area.
You can limit damage, inconvenience, and confusion during a hurricane by simply knowing what to expect. Hurricane season occurs every year, and although we may not be directly affected by them annually, we can be better prepared.