The key to surviving a hurricane is planning. If you choose to live in an area that is prone to these storms, you must be serious about the threat that they present. We have compiled the top 20 things you can do to prepare for a hurricane and survive in the aftermath of its destruction.
1. Improve your fortress. By making modifications to your home, you can better protect your home and possibly your life. These improvements include storm shutters or boarding up your windows. Add storm clips to your roof to better secure it to the house and help minimize roof damage. Keep all gutters clear to help direct water.
2. Have an evacuation plan. If instructed to do so, it is always wise to evacuate the area. Have a plan in place with your family on just how that will play out. Over 44 million people reside in coastal areas from Texas to Maine. Explore different evacation routes away from a potential storm as traffic could become a real issue.
3. Keep your vehicles completely fueled up. If a hurricane makes landfall, gas will often become scarce because of power issues. Make sure you have enough gas to get away from the damage if needed.
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4. Bring all items inside, such as lawn furniture, barrels, tables, etc. With winds over 100 mph, these object can become lethal when airborne.
5. Turn off all utilities, including propane if directed to do so. Prior to that, set your refrigerator and freezer to their coldest settings and don’t open the door. If power fails, your food will last longer.
6. Store sufficient amounts of non-perishable food. If the power is off for a prolonged period, the food stored in refrigeration will spoil. Canned foods work best.
7. Store enough water to last for at least a week. This includes water for sanitary purposes, such as cleaning and toilets. Fill bathtubs and any other large containers. Companies such as WaterBob (waterbob.com) sell specific kits to help you safely and sanitarily store water in the bathtub for long periods.
8. Assemble an emergency kit. This should include a serious flashlight like a SureFire (surefire.com) or Fenix (fenixlight.com), extra batteries, an emergency hand-crank radio such as the Eton Scorpion (etoncorp.com/en) or Midland ER200 (midlandusa.com), candles and a first-aid kit with any medications needed. Additionally, glow sticks can be a safe alternative to using candles.
9. Assemble an “after the storm” kit. It should have items such as blankets, books, games, copies of identification, handheld can openers, personal hygiene items and plastic tarps.
10. Buy a generator. One of the major problems faced after a hurricane is loss of power. If the storm is large, it can devastate the infrastructure, leading to a long period without power. Safely store fuels for the generator and keep a regular maintenance schedule for it.
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11. Keep emergency cash on you. As with gas pumps, when the power fails, cash will be hard to come by. ATMs will be non-functional and cash will rule the local economy.
12. Keep extra clothes for you and your family in a watertight bag like SealLine Storm Sacks (seallinegear.com). Also include rubber boots and rain gear.
13. When the hurricane hits, stay indoors. Do not be tempted to go watch the storm. It is a very dangerous event and safety should be your first concern as it approaches.
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14. Move to a basement or cellar. If this isn’t possible, then stay in the center of the house or building. Lie on the floor or under a heavy object.
15. Close all interior doors, curtains and shades. This can help control flying debris inside the building.
16. Do not leave your shelter until told to do so by emergency authorities. In many cases, the calm that is experienced is the eye of the hurricane passing over. The next section of the storm is more than likely not far behind.
17. Once the storm has passed, exit your structure carefully. Debris and damage from the storm can cause dangerous situations.
18. Be psychologically prepared to be on your own for at least a week. While rescue crews and emergency services will be scrambling to assist, it is ultimately up to you to maintain until help arrives.
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19. Avoid spending too much time in the storm flood water. This will quickly become contaminated with sewage and other debris.
20. Inspect your structure for significant damage. If there is substantial damage, you should leave and make your way to a shelter. Damaged structures are prone to collapse even after the storm has passed.
This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Fall 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.