Before, During, and After a Hurricane
Hurricane Watch – hurricane conditions (sustained winds greater than 74 mph) are possible. Watches are usually issued 48 hours before the beginning of tropical-storm-force-winds.
Hurricane Warning – hurricane conditions (sustained winds greater than 74 mph) are expected. Warnings are usually issued 36 hours before the beginning of tropical-storm-force-winds.
Tropical Storm Warning – tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within 36 hours.
To get ready for a hurricane:
- Build an emergency kit.
- Make a family communications plan.
- Know you’re the routes you need to leave your home (evacuation routes). Locate your local emergency shelters.
- Closely watch/listen to the weather reports. Listening every hour as the storm nears.
- Put fuel in all vehicles and withdraw some cash from the bank. Gas stations and ATMs may be closed after a hurricane.
- If authorities ask you to leave, do so quickly.
- If you leave (evacuate), be alert to flooded or washed-out roads. Just a few inches of water can float a car. Think: Turn Around, Don't Drown.
- Keep a photo I.D. that shows your home address. You will need it when asking police if it is okay for you to re-enter your area or home.
- Secure your property.
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or television for information.
- Secure your home, close storm shutters and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
- Turn off gas, water and power if you are told to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
- Turn off propane tanks.
- Try not to use the phone, except for serious emergencies.
- Moor your boat if time permits.
- Make sure you have a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
- Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency.
Leave your home or area if you are:
- Told to do so by local police.
- In a mobile home or temporary structure. Such structures are particularly dangerous during high wind events no matter how well fastened to the ground.
- In a high-rise building because hurricane winds are stronger at higher levels.
- On the coast, in a floodplain, near a river or on an island waterway.
If you are unable to leave, go to the safest room in your house.
- Stay indoors during the hurricane. Stay away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
- Keep curtains and blinds closed.
- Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm – winds will pick up again.
- Take shelter in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.
After a Hurricane
- Stay tuned to local radio, television or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest news.
- Stay alert for extra rainfall and following flooding even after the storm has ended.
- Drive only if needed. Stay away from flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out, look for fallen objects, downed electrical wires, and weakened bridges, roads and sidewalks.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines. Report them as quickly as you can to the power company.
- If you need to reach your family, use your family communications plan or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or visit the ARC Safe and Well site: www.safeandwell.org.
- If you cannot return home and need shelter, text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
- Return home only when officials say it is safe.
- Walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering. Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain around the building or your home was damaged by fire.
- Check your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your home check out by a trained building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
- Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering because the battery may make a spark that could cause leaking gas to catch on fire, if present.
- Many longer-term housing choices may be open to help those whose homes have been badly damaged or destroyed. Check this website or listen to local media after a hurricane to learn what choices may be open to you.
- Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
- Do not drink or make food with tap water until you are sure it’s not dirty.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to not get hurt.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or other enclosed areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for airing. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can stay around for hours, even after the generator has shut off.