A hurricane is barreling toward the coast, and you’re trying to decide whether you should evacuate or hunker down at a home.
The decision-making process should be driven by information being provided by local emergency managers, who are in charge of managing evacuations.
Most emergency managers agree that you should hide from the wind and run from the water. In other words, if you live in an area that will become flooded during a storm, you should evacuate. If the storm’s impacts will primarily be from the wind, you may decide to ride it out.
The best advice: If you’re being told to evacuate, you should heed those warnings and stay safe.
If you opt to stay home during the storm, here are some hurricane safety tips to help you weather it.
A kit of emergency supplies is the foundation of any disaster plan, but it becomes an even more critical part of the strategy if you opt to stay at home during a hurricane.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, some items in your safety supply kit should include:
You can get a much more exhaustive list of supplies for your emergency kit in the sections below and here.
This is so important, that it needs to be said twice.
According to FEMA, you should have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food in your emergency kit. You might want to add more if you decide to ride out a storm at home as you may be cut off from a reliable food supply for a while.
If you are planning on eating canned goods that have been in your pantry for a while, be sure to check how long they've been there. FEMA advises consuming canned foods within a year or by the expiration date on the can. Also be sure that the canned food hasn't been stored in or near extreme heat, which could cause the food to spoil.
As far as water goes, FEMA recommends that you have a gallon of water per person per day and the supply should be enough to last several days. When storing water, be sure to keep it away from direct sunlight and in a cool location.
According to FEMA, the safest and most reliable emergency supply of water is commercially bottled water. Be sure to keep bottled water in its original container, and do not open it until you need to use it.
If you are planning on preparing your own containers of water, FEMA recommends that you use food-grade water storage containers or re-use two-liter plastic soft drink bottles. Do not re-use plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Find more information about storing water here.
Also be sure to include the following food- and drink-related items in your emergency kit:
Again, do not forget to gather enough extra food and water for your pets, too.
If you decide to hunker down, making sure that your property is ready for the hurricane ahead of time is critical. Any damage to your home can put the people inside at a health and safety risk:
Bottom line: if you've been told to evacuate, you should. If you need help finding your evacuation zone, check out this guide.
If you’ve been told to evacuate and you don’t, you’ll likely be on your own during the hurricane. Most emergency agencies will be staffed during the storm, but conditions won’t allow them to respond to emergencies in a safe way.
Once the storm lets up, emergency crews will usually start fanning out across the area to address issues stemming from the storm. Keep in mind that fallen trees or power lines could block the roads that emergency crews would use to get to you. It could be a while before the roads have been cleared enough for them to reach you during the disaster.
As stated earlier, you’ll want to have a first aid kit on hand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any minor injuries should be quickly treated in order to prevent infection. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible for major injuries.
Other medical supplies and hygienic products to keep on hand:
Losing electricity at your home during a hurricane is almost a given. Before the storm hits, be sure to do the following:
You’ll also want to have some activities that don’t require power on hand when the lights go out, especially if you have children. Here are a few suggestions:
It’s imperative that you have a way of getting information and news reports during and after the storm. Some suggestions on how you can stay informed include:
Don’t expect to be able to run out to the grocery store and replenish your supplies or fill up your gas tank after the hurricane has passed. Long-term power outages, damaged utilities and blocked roads will likely lead to disruptions in the supply chain. It may be several days before stores and gas stations can restock and reopen. Plan accordingly.
To help you and your family get back on your feet after the storm, consider including the following in your emergency kit: