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Hurricane Preparedness: How to Weather the Storm

Photo showing an arrow for the evacuation routeJune to November is prime time for hurricanes. Relaxing, summer days can quickly turn disastrous, so keep you and your family safe by knowing how to get ready.

Severe hurricane damage occurs from strong winds and rain, flash flooding and potential landslides. Tornados can occur along the path of the hurricane as well as storm surges along the coast. As a result, both inland and coastal communities face risks this season. The best way for you to stay safe is to be prepared.

What do I need to do to be prepared?

Form a communication plan with your family - An emergency can strike at any time. Make sure everyone in your family has a way of contacting each other, whether it's via a cell phone or a phone card. Coordinate with your children's day care or schools, and place an emergency contact card in their backpacks. If possible, identify an emergency contact person who is outside of your area so that everyone has a back-up, central point of communication.

Know your resources - Each community has an evacuation plan, and many also offer emergency shelters. If you need to leave your home or community, learn the best exit routes. Also, find out where local emergency shelters are located.

Assemble an emergency kit - and don't wait until the last minute! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Water and non-perishable food items

  • Small amount of cash - ATMs and credit card machines may be inoperable

  • Weather radio

  • First-aid kit and family prescriptions

  • Flashlights, lanterns, and batteries

  • Blankets

  • At least one change of clothes

  • Hygiene and sanitation products

  • Copies (front and back) of your identification and credit cards

  • Full tank of gasoline

  • Cards, toys, and other small recreational items, especially if you have children

Photo showing emergency kit and suppliesAnd don't forget to plan for your pets! Make sure Fluffy has her carrier and enough food and water, too. Ideally, the supplies in the emergency kit should last at least three days and should be restocked or replaced at least once per year.

What should I do when I know a storm is coming?

Stay informed. The National Hurricane Center and local news stations issue constant weather updates. You can also sign up to receive alerts on your phone. Follow instructions issued by local officials - if evacuations are ordered, leave immediately!

Protect your home and your belongings. Safeguarding windows are a priority. If broken, strong winds may enter your house and pry open the roof. It's best to cover windows with either shutters or plywood. Taping windows doesn't prevent windows from breaking. Trim shrubbery and trees, and keep drain pipes clear. This will diminish debris and keep the heavy amounts of water from damming up. And either tie down or bring inside any loose items in your lawn. Storms spring up quickly, so there's no such thing as taking too many preventative measures.

For more information on preparing for severe weather, visit Ready.Gov.

Updated/Reviewed: August 17, 2012