Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. Although it is one of the last things you want to think about, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared in the event of severe weather.
Here are a few hurricane readiness tips to prevent you from getting caught off guard when a storm is on the way.
Sign up for storm alerts
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mobile app will send you National Weather Service notifications on up to five locations and locate emergency shelters. You should keep an eye on local news and weather reports as well.
Pack a bag
If you have to leave your home on short notice, you’ll want some essentials for you and everyone in your family. FEMA recommends packing things like medications, food and water, clothing and a first-aid kit. Your bag should be easy to carry and kept where you can grab it quickly.
Plan for evacuation
State or local officials may issue evacuation notices in advance of dangerous storms. Check with your local department of transportation or emergency management office to familiarize yourself with your area’s evacuation routes.
Keep your car’s gas tank at least half-full and carry a kit of basic emergency supplies including snacks, bottled water, a first-aid kit, flashlights, flares, jumper cables, tools, a blanket and a change of clothes.
Establish a communication plan
Figure out how your family will stay in touch if you’re separated or lose power. You can choose an out-of-state contact for everyone to contact and choose a spot for everyone to meet up later.
You can build an emergency stockpile over time, but remember to replace items with a limited shelf life, like food and batteries. Your emergency supplies should include:
- One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.
- At least a three-day supply of nonperishable food.
- Battery or hand-crank radio and extra batteries.
- Flashlight with extra batteries.
- Whistle to signal for help.
- A wrench and/or pliers.
- Dust mask to filter contaminated air.
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape.
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
- Can opener if your food kit contains cans.
- Local maps.
- Prescriptions and reading glasses.
- Infant formula and diapers.
- Pet food and extra water for pets.
- Important family documents, such as insurance policies and bank account records. Store these in a waterproof container.
- Sleeping bags or warm blankets.
- Cash or traveler’s checks.
- Complete change of clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
- A fire extinguisher.
- Matches in a waterproof container.
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene.
- Paper cups, plates, plastic utensils and paper towels.
If you’re not ordered to evacuate, stay indoors, away from windows and glass doors. Never use a generator or gasoline-powered equipment like grills indoors or in partially enclosed areas. Such equipment should be outside, 20 feet away from doors, windows and vents.
Prepare your home
Powerful winds and floods are two of the greatest dangers presented by hurricanes. Ready your home by reinforcing doors, windows, walls and the roof. You should also bring loose, light objects like patio furniture and garbage cans inside and anchor objects you can bring inside, like grills. Trim or remove trees that are close enough to fall on buildings.
To prepare your home for heavy rains or flooding, keep gutters and drains free of debris. If possible, install a water alarm and sump pump with battery and battery backup. Stockpile plywood, plastic sheeting, sandbags and other emergency materials, too.
Remember that flood damage is not covered by standard homeowners insurance. You should talk to your insurance agent about purchasing coverage, which might have a 30-day waiting period before it takes effect. Learn the ins and outs of hurricane deductibles here.