Hurricane Preparedness

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A hurricane is a tropical storm with winds that have reached a constant speed of 74 miles per hour or more. Hurricane winds blow in a large spiral around a relative calm center known as the “eye.” The “eye” is generally 20 to 30 miles wide, and the storm may extend outward 400 miles. As a hurricane approaches, the skies will begin to darken and winds will grow in strength. As a hurricane nears land, it can bring torrential rains, high winds, and storm surges. A single hurricane can last for more than 2 weeks over open waters and can run a path across the entire length of the eastern seaboard. August and September are peak months during the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through November 30.

Before Hurricane Season Starts


  1. Plan an evacuation route.
    • Contact the local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter, and ask for the community hurricane preparedness plan. This plan should include information on the safest evacuation routes and nearby shelters.
  2. Learn safe routes inland.
    • Be ready to drive 20 to 50 miles inland to locate a safe place
    • Have disaster supplies on hand
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
    • First-aid kit and manual
    • Emergency food and water
    • Non-electric can opener
    • Essential medicines
    • Cash and credit cards
    • Sturdy shoes
  3. Make arrangements for pets.
    • Pets may not be allowed into emergency shelters for health and space reasons.
    • Contact your local humane society for information on local animal shelters.
  4. Make sure that all family members know how to respond after a hurricane.
    • Teach family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
    • Teach children how and when to call 911, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
  5. Protect your windows
    • Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 0.5-inch plywood - marine plywood is best - cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window.
    • Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Do this long before the storm.
    • Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.
  6. Check into flood insurance.
    • You can find out about the National Flood Insurance Program through your local insurance agent or emergency management office. There is normally a 30-day waiting period before a new policy becomes effective.
    • Homeowners polices do not cover damage from the flooding that accompanies a hurricane.
  7. Develop an emergency communication plan.
    • In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.
    • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.

In the Event of Evacuation


If officials indicate evacuation is necessary:
  • Leave as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges.
  • Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve.
  • Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going.
  • If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone, elevate furniture to protect it from flooding or better yet, move it to a higher floor.
  • Take pre-assembled emergency supplies, warm protective clothing, blankets and sleeping bags to shelter.
  • Lock up home and leave.