Home Hurricane Preparedness
The South and East coasts of the United States are prone to hurricanes, as are the islands of Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. The hurricane season runs from June to November. “Hurricane watch” means there is a hurricane under observation, and “Hurricane Warning” means that the threat is becoming clearer. This warning system is also valid for tornadoes and floods.
Local emergency management resources will keep you updated on local action plans:
Sign up to receive emergency alerts on your smartphone :
Alabama : http://alabamasaftnet.com/
Georgia : https://gema.georgia.gov/plan-prepare/alerts-and-warnings
Mississippi : https://www.msema.org/about/mema-mobile-application/
North Carolina : https://www.readync.org/stay-informed/emergency-alerts
South Carolina : https://www.scemd.org/stay-informed/emergency-alerts/codered-alerts/
Tennessee : https://www.tn.gov/tema/ready-tn.html
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Practical information for individuals
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services
- The American Red Cross
How should I prepare for a hurricane?
Have a plan to evacuate ahead of time. You should plan where you will go and how you will get there, and if there are any nearby shelters offering help to the public. You should especially plan in advance if you require public transportation to leave the area of risk, or if you live in mobile/manufactured/trailer homes or a recreational vehicle (RV) that cannot protect you from severe weather.
Plan to shelter safely. Be prepared to live under potential conditions of having no power, water, internet, gas, and electronics for an unexpected amount of time. Prepare to stay in a place with the best protection possible—a small, windowless, interior room on the bottom floor of a sturdy building/house is the safest space. And if you live in an area prone to flooding, try to move to higher grounds.
Have your kits ready. Upon evacuation, you should have a “go kit” that includes non-perishable food, water, chargers/batteries, toiletries, pet food/supplies, and medicine that could cover you and your family for at least 3 days. Make sure to keep personal, financial, and medical records safe.
How can I protect my home from a hurricane?
Prepare for wind. Anything that could be displaced due to high winds, such as lawn furniture and trash cans, should be secured as they could hit and injure someone. Propane tanks and gas grills should be anchored to a much heavier object. You should also trim or remove any trees close to your home that could damage the roof and windows, which can also be protected with storm shutters or pre-cut plywood.
Prepare for flooding. You should clean out drains, gutters, and downspouts, and consider installing a sump pump with battery backup to collect any water that makes its way into your vicinity. You may also consider investing in plastic sheeting and sandbags to prevent water from entering your house in the first place.
What should I do during a hurricane?
Follow all evacuation advisements. If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately and bring all your prepared kits and essential belongings. If evacuation is not ordered, decide whether to evacuate based off elevation and weather severity. Even if high floodwaters and winds do not affect your place of living, be prepared to lose water and electricity for several days. Be prepared for blocked roads and inability to travel.
How can I stay safe after a hurricane?
Continue to follow all official orders. Once officials say it is safe to return home, be sure to avoid damaged or fallen power lines to prevent yourself from getting electrocuted. Also try not to touch floodwaters to avoid bacteria and sewage.
Be safe when cleaning up hurricane destruction. Wear as much protective gear as possible, including goggles, boots, gloves, etc. Make sure you are trained to use the proper equipment to handle heavy and sharp objects such as debris. If you need to use a power generator, do not place it inside your house or garage and check if it reaches dangerous levels as this could cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Bring in items that are likely to fly away (garden furniture, flower pots and anything that could be carried away by a strong wind); put your documents, valuables and clothing in waterproof bags, if possible at height. Close your shutters. - If you evacuate, take your documents (insurance, titles, birth certificates, passports...).
- Store water. Fill empty water bottles, sinks and bathtub.
- Refuel your vehicles and keep them safe.
- Prepare an "evacuation kit". Gather needed supplies for at least three days. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets.
- Set your refrigerator to the coldest setting. Freeze water bottles that can be used later to keep food cool if there is no electricity.
- If you are not in an evacuation zone, find a safe area in your home to shelter (a room without windows, ideally a bathroom, hallway or large closet).
COVID-19 Hurricane Tips:
- If staying with others, be wary of COVID-19 by getting tested and vaccinated beforehand and keeping as much distance from each other as possible, especially if staying with older or medically at-risk individuals.
- Don’t forget all your COVID-19 supplies—make sure to include at least 2 masks for each person, hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, disinfecting supplies, and personal soap.
- If someone in your household gets sick from COVID-19, be prepared to accommodate for this by creating a “sick room” or staying as far a distance as possible.
- Once finished cleaning up, clean and disinfect everything used—this will not only prevent the spread of COVID-19, but will rid of any other infectious diseases transmitted through wet or damp areas.