A Hurricane is a strong storm and one of the most devastating natural disasters on the planet. On average, at least one strikes the U.S. annually, causing injuries and loss of life in many cases, as well as millions of dollars’ worth of damage to homes and other structures.
While it’s impossible to stop, it is possible to prepare for one and minimize the risk of injury or death, especially when the storm category goes higher than 2. Here are a couple of things you should include in your checklist, so you’ll know what to do and what you’ll need with you before and during a hurricane.
Before the Hurricane Strikes
Look out for critical information and listen for the latest announcements about the incoming hurricane. This could include the direction the hurricane is travelling, ground speed, how much wind it packs, flood warnings, evacuation plans by the local government and more.
Check Your Supplies
See if you have enough and replace or restock if needed.
Check with Your Family and Your Emergency Plan
Make sure everyone knows their role. Practice your evacuation plan and make sure everyone knows what they are supposed to do and what they need with them (like medications) in the event of an emergency.
Bring in Your Stuff
Things that can be easily picked up by the wind and become a projectile during a hurricane, like lawn furniture and ornaments should be taken inside the house.
Close the Windows and Doors
If you don’t have hurricane shutters, reinforce your doors and windows by boarding them with plywood.
Adjust the Refrigerator and Freezer to the Coldest Setting
Expect interruptions to your power supply. Minimize opening the refrigerator door to keep the inside of your refrigerator cold and its contents fresh when the power goes out.
Turn Off Gas Lines and Unplug Small Appliances
As a precaution against fire, turn off your propane tanks or natural gas connection before a hurricane. Ask a professional before you turn it on after the hurricane has passed so you can be sure there are no damage and leaks.
Make Sure Your Car’s Fuel Tank is Full
In the event of an emergency evacuation, whether it’s voluntary or not, one of the worst things that can happen is running out of gas in the middle of your trip.
Check with Your Community
Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan, including evacuation routes and centers.
If an evacuation is announced, evacuate immediately and proceed to evacuation centers or people you know who are in a safe area where you can stay until it’s safe to go back to your home.
Things You’ll Need During a Hurricane
Make sure you have enough clean and potable water. How much is enough? The average adult will need at least a gallon per day, so if you have four people in your family, you’ll need at least 12 gallons of drinking water on standby in case water services become unavailable and you’re going to be hunkering down. Storing more will allow you to maintain basic hygiene. Don’t forget water for your pets as well!
Stock up at least three days’ worth of non-perishable and easy-to-prepare food. Don’t forget to include some sweets in there for the kids!
First Aid, Medication and Personal Hygiene Kits
Check your first aid kit regularly. Make sure medicines aren’t expired and replace them and any missing supplies if needed.
Important Files and Documents
Create copies of important files and documents (medical information, birth certificates, insurance policies, mortgage, passports, etc.) and keep them in a waterproof plastic bag or envelope. You can also scan them and make additional copies in a thumb drive that you can easily bring with you in case of a forced evacuation. A map of the area as well as important contact details should be included in these files.
Flashlights, Radio and Extra Batteries
There are also hand-cranked flashlights and radios available, so you won’t have to rely on batteries (and save on some weight in case you need to move).
Cell Phone and Chargers
Fully charge your cell phones before the hurricane strikes and keep the chargers (as well as the charger for your other important devices, like your laptop) in your bag in case you need to move someplace safer. You can also consider investing in a portable power bank—They’re relatively cheap and many models can fully charge your phone up to three to four times before it completely runs out of juice (they can even be used to power some of your other electronic devices).
Whether you’re staying or going, make sure Fido has enough supplies as well. Aside from food and water, check on your pets’ leash, collar, carrier and other things they might need in case you’ll need to take them with you during an evacuation.
Clothing, Undergarments and Extra Blankets
While it’s tempting to take as much clothing as you can with you, be sensible and consider how much you can carry and the other supplies that you’ll be bringing with you in case you’ll need to move out. Opt for function, durability and ease of care when making your choices.
Cash and Keys
While this one seems obvious enough, these items are also easy to forget, especially in a society that’s increasingly becoming “cashless”. It would also be a good idea to bring with you credit cards and checkbooks so you can have other options in case you run out of cash.
Make sure you have duplicates of your house and car keys as well.