Hurricanes are strong storms that can cause severe hazards including flooding, storm surges, or high winds and can even be life-threatening. A few small steps you can take now will help make hurricane season less stressful. For those living in hurricane-prone areas, preparation is key!
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30 each year. The 2021 hurricane season will occur during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may affect your hurricane preparation and planning, but also makes it even more important to do so. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it is to prepare for the unexpected. It’s much easier to prepare for a hurricane while the weather is still normal rather than waiting until the last minute during an already stressful time.
Here are a few actions you can take now to prepare for the next hurricane season.
Create an Emergency Plan
During and after a hurricane, you will be under additional pressure, therefore having a plan set in place will reduce your stress and allow you to focus on your recovery.
- Talk with your family about what you will do during a hurricane. Especially for younger children, discussing hurricanes ahead of time will reduce stress and fear.
- Understand the different types of alerts. The two types of alerts are a hurricane “watch” which can be announced 48 hours before tropical-storm-force winds are expected and the more serious hurricane “warning” which can be announced 36 hours prior.
- Write down emergency phone numbers and program them into your cell phone.
- Have a family communication plan. If you get separated and can’t reach one another, you will need to know how to get back in touch. You can designate a friend or family member to call and check in with.
- Print or save electronic copies of important documents including emergency phone numbers and insurance information.
- Locate the nearest shelter and map out the different routes you can take to get there from your home. Factor in any health or medical concerns, especially for older members of your family. If shelter locations in your area have not been identified, learn how to find them in the event of a storm.
- Pet owners: Pre-identify shelters, a pet-friendly hotel, or an out-of-town friend or relative who can take care of your pets in an evacuation. Call your local animal shelter for advice on what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate your home.
- Create a financial preparedness plan. Understand what is covered in your current homeowners’ policy and add additional coverage (such as flood insurance) if needed. Add to a savings account to cover the potential short and long-term expenses and any deductibles. Consider parametric insurance as a useful building block for your hurricane preparedness plan. With Parachute Insurance, you will receive emergency cash within hours after a hurricane hit.
Assemble an Emergency Preparedness Kit
A hurricane can cut off your power and water supply. Your car may be damaged, and roads may be blocked or flooded. Therefore, you should ensure your home and cars are stocked with emergency supplies. Create a checklist to make sure you include everything for your kits.
For your emergency kit, stock up on:
- Emergency food. Choose foods that require little or no cooking, water, or refrigeration and have a long storage life. Consider any family members who are on special diets, babies, and pets. Avoid salty or spicy foods that would increase the need for drinking water (which may be in short supply).
- Emergency water. Store at least 1 gallon of water per day for each person and each pet and at least a 3-day supply. The CDC offers advice on how to store and clean water containers.
- Emergency medicine supply. It is recommended to keep a 2-week supply of any medications and medical supplies needed.
- Make sure you have extra batteries available.
- ATM’s and banks may be inaccessible during a storm.
- Cell phones, chargers, and spare batteries.
- Cleaning products. Store hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, toilet paper, feminine products, face masks, first-aid kits, soap, and any supplies needed for children such as baby wipes or diapers.
- A battery-powered or hand-crank radio. Purchasing a radio will allow you to access local news and weather broadcasts. You can also receive weather alerts from your cell phone alerts, NOAA Weather Radio, or (@NWS) Twitter alerts.
- A fire extinguisher. Ensure that members of your family know where to find the fire extinguisher and how to use it.
Get Your Home Prepared
In the event of a hurricane, you will need to prepare your home. Even before hurricane season, you should make sure you have the supplies and practice how to get your home ready for an oncoming hurricane.
- Purchase storm shutters or pieces of plywood to cover up windows and doors during a hurricane.
- Know how to turn off your power. If flooding occurs, power lines are downed, or you must leave your home, you will need to switch off your power.
- Have clean water containers to fill with drinking water in case you lose your water supply during a storm.
- Check your carbon monoxide (CO) detector’s battery regularly to prevent CO poisoning.
- Plan where to store outdoor items. Lawn furniture, toys, gardening tools, and trash cans should all be stored away to prevent them from being moved by high winds and possibly causing harm to someone.
- Clean loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts. This will prevent flooding in the event of heavy rains.
For those living in hurricane-prone areas, it is never too early to prepare. The important thing is to take the actions needed to keep yourself and your family safe!