Hurricanes pose a serious danger to coastal areas. The key to staying safe when a dangerous storm is headed your way is not rushing to your local hardware store to buy wood or dashing to your local grocery store to stock up on water and other food items.
The key to hurricane safety is:
1: Plan Ahead
2: Listen To Authorities
3: Remain Calm
How do you know if the hurricane risk is serious in your area? Listen closely to the local weather reports and know the difference between advisories in your area.
- Hurricane Watch – This means hurricane conditions are a threat within 48 hours. Review your hurricane plans and be ready to act if a warning is issued.
- Hurricane Warning – This means hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Complete your storm preparations and leave the area when directed to do so by authorities.
- Tropical Storm Watches and Warnings – This means a tropical storm, which has lower wind speeds than a hurricane, is a threat in your area. Flooding and dangerous winds could occur. Take these advisories seriously.
Living along the coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean, and especially if you live in one of the top 10 danger zones which include counties in Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana, puts you at high risk of hurricanes and the dangers they bring. Remember these safety tips to help protect your family and home:
- Pack a “grab and run” backpack that includes food, water, protective clothing, medications, batteries, flashlights, cell phone chargers, battery-powered radio, personal hygiene items, disposable camera, and road maps. Be sure to pack baby and pet supplies if this applies to you.
- Place important papers, such as medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies, in a waterproof container you can grab quickly. Also, have extra cash on hand for emergencies; credit and debit cards may not work after the storm.
- Establish a plan for where you will go if you evacuate, when you will leave, and how family members will contact each other once out of the area. Keep your gas tank full on vehicles so this is not a worry when you need to leave quickly.
- Keep the outside of your home prepared. For example, remove weak or dead trees, keep limbs and bushes trimmed, store trash cans and other items securely, bring lawn furniture and bicycles inside, and anchor swing sets and other equipment to the ground.
- Prevent safety hazards by turning off propane tanks and unplugging small appliances in your home. Set your refrigerator and freezer on the coldest setting and keep them closed so that food lasts longer if the power goes out.
- Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters as you leave. If you do not have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood you have readily available for this purpose.
Listen to Authorities
- Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates on the storm.
- If you evacuate, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- Remember that a calm in the storm often signifies the storm’s eye – not its end. If someone is riding out a hurricane, they should wait for authorities to announce that the danger has passed to come out of cover.
- If you live in a mobile home, or a house that isn't sturdy enough to stand up to the wind, evacuate early to avoid the stress of traffic jams.
- Acknowledge that it is normal to be afraid during a hurricane. Remember to take slow, deep breaths to help lessen the physical reaction to stress and keep anxiety in check.
- Practice your hurricane escape plan ahead of time to minimize confusion and calm fears during an actual event.
- Never take unnecessary risks. Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Refer to your road maps to find a safe way to escape.
- Provide games, books, and music players with headphones to children and reassure them that everyone will stay together.
American Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes
National Weather Service National Hurricane Center, http://www.nhc.noaa.gov