Hurricanes cost an average of $26 billion per year and they cause a huge amount of property damage. Make yourself aware of how to prepare for a hurricane, and how to stay safe when a storm hits.
How To Prepare for A Hurricane
Step 1: Plan
The first thing you need to do when preparing for a hurricane is make a plan outlining the information you will need and the procedures to be followed in case a hurricane hit. Your plan should include:
- Contact details – family, friends, schools, workplaces, and emergency services
- Insurance details – policy, ‘before’ photographs of your property, and claim process information
- Maps with at least two evacuation routes marked – in high-risk states, hurricane evacuation routes are signposted
- An inventory of your possessions - use as a reference in case anything is damaged
- Details of nearby shelters
Discuss your plan with family and friends to ensure everyone knows what to do when a hurricane occurs.
Step 2: Create A Disaster Kit
You should gather supplies into a disaster kit to help you stay safe during a hurricane. Your disaster kit may have to last for several days, so ensure it’s well stocked. Key items are:
- Food and water to last at least three days for each person and animal
- Medicines and first aid supplies
- Flashlights and batteries
- Portable radio and mobile phone
- Maps of the local area
- Money (cash)
- Portable generator (if in an area prone to power outages and hurricanes)
If you’re going to be at home when the hurricane hits, fill up all available containers with water beforehand, including sinks and bathtubs. Stock your refrigerator and freezer with water and ice. If the hurricane is severe (Category 3 or higher), water supplies are likely to be down or contaminated for multiple days after the storm.
NOTE: Water stored in sinks and bathtubs is safe for flushing toilets, washing dishes, and doing laundry. If you intend to use it for drinking, cooking, or brushing teeth, make sure you boil it for 3-5 minutes first.
To save room in your refrigerator, purchase non-perishables and canned foods.
Have one disaster kit prepared for your house and one to take with you should you need to evacuate. If hurricane watches and warnings are frequent in your area, consider storing a kit in your car at all times, so you are able to evacuate the area quickly. Remember to fill up the gas tank of your car if a storm is likely.
Step 3: Establish A Safe Room in Your House
Even if your first choice would be to evacuate the area during a hurricane, bear in mind that this may not always be possible. It is best to identify the room in your house that could offer the most protection if you have to stay.
The ideal safe room should have no windows or external doors and be on a low floor of the building. Store your in-house disaster kit and hurricane plan in this room so it is accessible at all times. If a hurricane approaches, move water and food into this room as well.
Unlike with tornadoes, hurricane safe rooms should not be located in a basement. Hurricanes are frequently accompanied by flooding, so subterranean shelters should be avoided. If possible, have an option in your plan to move to higher floors in case flooding occurs.