What you should do now to prepare for hurricane season

Hurricane season is here, and if you live in an area that’s prone to these devastating storms, it’s important to take some time now to prepare. From stocking up on supplies to creating an evacuation plan, read on for everything you need to do to get ready for hurricane season.

Below are some tips on what you should do as hurricane season gets underway.

Make that plan

Having a plan in place before a hurricane threatens is important. Here are a few things you need to do before a storm is headed your way.

  • Decide if you are likely to shelter in place or if you are close enough to the coast that it is wise for you to evacuate.

If you plan to evacuate, download this FEMA app for shelter information. If you decide to go to a hotel instead of a shelter, get a list of hotels in the area to which you would likely evacuate. If a storm threatens, call the hotel early to get a reservation. They will fill up fast. Use this checklist to help you prepare an evacuation plan.

Research your evacuation route

If you intend to evacuate ahead of a hurricane, do you know the best way to get out of your area? Use the links below to get evacuation route information for your county and state.

Sheltering in place

  • If you plan to stay home, use the tips below to prepare your home for a potential storm. Remember, do this now. Do not wait until a storm is approaching. If you plan to ride the storm out at home, make sure you have a "safe room" to go into when the storm hits. Ideally, if you have a storm shelter, you should ride out the hurricane there. If you don't, you should be in an interior room of the house (no outside walls, if possible).
  • Keep up to date with conditions in your area by checking with your state's emergency management agency. Click here a link to all the states agencies.

Protect your property in advance of the storm

From the Insurance Information Institute, here are steps to take to prepare your home:

  • Consider replacing gravel or rock landscaping materials with shredded bark, which is lighter and won't cause as much harm.
  • Cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house and keep shrubbery trimmed.
  • Install storm shutters to protect your windows from breakage. Alternatively, fit plywood panels to your windows, which can be nailed to window frames when a storm approaches.
  • Make sure exterior doors are hurricane-proof and have at least three hinges and a deadbolt lock that is at least one-inch long.
  • Sliding glass doors should be made of tempered glass and, during a storm, covered with shutters or plywood. These types of doors are more vulnerable to wind damage than most other doors.
  • Replace old garage doors and tracks with a door that is approved for both wind pressure and impact protection. Wind coming into your home through an opening this large poses grave problems for the rest of your home—especially your roof.
  • Seal outside wall openings such as vents, outdoor electrical outlets, garden hose bibs and locations where cables or pipes go through the wall. Use a high-quality urethane-based caulk to prevent water penetration.
  • If you live in a mobile home make sure you know how to secure it against high winds.
  • If you have a boat on a trailer, know how to anchor the trailer to the ground or house.
  • Consider purchasing a generator.

Pets

Make a communication plan

  • Devise a family communication plan. It can be difficult to keep in touch with family members during a storm. Make a checklist to help you put together a plan that will keep you in communication with family or friends.

Financial and other important records

Make an inventory of your belongings

  • Click here for tips on creating a home inventory to help with insurance claims.

Check your insurance policy

What do you need to have on hand?

Begin gathering supplies you need should a hurricane threaten your area. Below is a list of supplies it would be good to have on hand.

Click here for a checklist of supplies provided by FEMA. The Red Cross offers this list.

  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
  • Can opener for food
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Click here for a list of food that doesn't need refrigeration.
  • Household chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper. Dilute nine parts water to one part bleach to use as a disinfectant.
  • Identification and bank account records; store them in a waterproof, portable container
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Local maps
  • Matches in a waterproof container, or waterproof matches (look for them at places that sell camping equipment)
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Paper and pencil
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Sheeting and duct tape
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
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