Before a hurricane
If conditions are right for a hurricane in your area, this is how you can prepare:
- Stay tuned to local radio, official news and/or community websites, and TV for warnings, safety announcements or instructions.
- Have a bag ready and plan your evacuation route so you’re prepared if leaving the area becomes necessary.
- Stock up on emergency supplies but be aware others will need supplies, too.
- Reinforce the outside of your home, particularly doors, windows, walls and roofs.
- Move anything inside that could become flying debris in high winds, but only if there’s enough time and it’s safe to do so.
- Anchor outdoor items that are unsafe to bring inside, such as fuel tanks.
- If emergency officials haven’t directed you to a public shelter, get your family to the basement, a closet, a small room or a hallway away from windows. The more walls between you and the outside, the better.
- Review insurance policies and catalog your belongings, if there is time.3
During the hurricane
The decisions you make during the storm are crucial. Here are some actions you can take:
- Follow any guidance from local officials. If you’re told to evacuate, follow the plan you made and do so. Make sure you bring essentials like the bag you prepared before the storm.
- Stay away from windows. Keep yourself to the lowest, most inferior section of your home as possible.
- In the event of flooding, move to higher ground.
- Never attempt to walk or drive through floodwaters.3
After a hurricane has passed
If you and your family were evacuated from your home – or if it has been severely damaged from the hurricane – wait for authorities to give the all-clear to re-enter. Then:
- Look for flooding in the wake of a hurricane and avoid it. Never attempt to enter floodwater.
- Be on the lookout for downed power lines, trees and poles. Some may still be upright but could still be highly unstable.
- Do not enter your home until it has been inspected for damage to the electrical system, gas lines, septic systems, and water lines or wells.
- If dark, use a flashlight – not matches, a candle or a lighter. An open flame could ignite leaking gas.
- Avoid drinking any tap water until you get confirmation it’s safe from local officials.
- If there is water damage, consider hiring a professional water damage cleaning service.
- Begin your cleanup as soon as possible – washing and disinfecting items that have been touched by floodwater or disposing of items that cannot be saved. Protect yourself with gloves and sturdy, thick-soled shoes. Do not attempt to remove any heavy debris by yourself.
- Once you’ve gathered necessary documents and evidence of your claim (photos or video), contact your insurance company or agent.3 .
While hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms and depression also can be devastating. The primary hazards from tropical cyclones (which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.
- Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm’s winds. This hazard is historically the leading cause of hurricane related deaths in the United States. Storm surge and large battering waves can result in large loss of life and cause massive destruction along the coast.
- Storm surge can travel several miles inland, especially along bays, rivers, and estuaries.
- Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from landfalling tropical cyclones. Widespread torrential rains associated with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated.
- Winds from a hurricane can destroy buildings and manufactured homes. Signs, roofing material, and other items left outside can become flying missiles during hurricanes.
- Tornadoes can accompany landfalling tropical cyclones. These tornadoes typically occur in rain bands well away from the center of the storm.
- Dangerous waves produced by a tropical cyclone’s strong winds can pose a significant hazard to coastal residents and mariners. These waves can cause deadly rip currents, significant beach erosion, and damage to structures along the coastline, even when the storm is more than 1,000 miles offshore.