Before a storm rolls in, create a hurricane evacuation plan. List the routes you will need to take to evacuate and designate a place to stay.
Also, make a plan for communication. Determine how your family and friends will stay in contact and how you will get emergency alerts. In addition to television and radio notifications, your community may offer text or email emergency notification systems.
And if you haven’t already, create a disaster supplies kit, stocked with items like food, bottled water, first aid supplies and a flashlight.
It’s important to make sure you and your family are prepared to weather a storm, but you’ll want to ensure that your home is prepared as well. Trim or remove trees that could potentially fall on your home, install storm shutters, inspect your roof and consider purchasing a generator.
When you first get word of a hurricane watch or warning, keep your TV or radio on to get the latest updates. A hurricane watch is issued if a hurricane is possible in your area within 48 hours. A hurricane warning is issued if a hurricane is expected in your area within 36 hours.
Fill up your gas tank, charge your cell phone and pack emergency supplies and a change of clothes in case you need to quickly evacuate. If you’re staying at home, make sure you have food, water and emergency supplies.
Bring items like outdoor furniture and garbage cans inside and anchor down anything that would be unsafe or difficult to bring inside, like a gas grill or playhouse. Then, make sure all windows are covered. If you don’t have permanent storm shutters installed, cover your windows with 5/8-inch exterior grade or marine plywood.
When the storm is about to hit, take shelter and stay away from windows. Check in with friends and family to let them know where you are and that you’re safe. During disasters, it’s recommended to communicate via text, and if a phone call is necessary, keep it short. Texting is quicker and more reliable than phone calls. Also, texting minimizes network congestion, which makes it easier for emergency phone calls to be completed.
Whether you evacuated or stayed at home, wait for updates and instructions from the authorities before returning or leaving your location.
When it’s safe to enter or exit your home, avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Fast-moving water can sweep your car away, and even 6 inches of flood water could knock you off your feet. In addition, flood water may be electrically charged from fallen power lines and could contain other harmful debris.
If there’s damage to your property, take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage and save any repair estimates or receipts. If you need to file an insurance claim, take pictures to assist in the filing process. However, your safety is the number one priority, so take caution when taking pictures. Finally, compile a list of damaged personal property to help expedite the claim process.