Hurricane is no joke and you should always make sure that your home is ready for it, especially during the hurricane season. As there are many things to take under consideration, it’s better to scroll down for taking a look at our list. Chances are you didn’t check all of them, for sure.
- Appreciate your real risk
- Put together an evacuation plan
- Build your emergency kit
- Always be prepare for power outage
- What do you know about your home insurance?
- The hurricane is here. What to do?
- The hurricane is gone now. What’s left to do?
Appreciate your real risk
Do you actually live in a hurricane zone? Mississippi, Florida, Texas or Louisiana are affected by hurricanes and determining the risk for a hurricane to strike your home is the very first thing to do in preparedness.
Hurricane may come with heavy winds, flooding and even tornadoes so hurricanes may affect you somehow even if you don’t live on the coast.
They can actually have an impact on hundreds of miles inland. If you’re worrying about a hurricane heading your way, you can use the tracking tools that show you just where the hurricane is going to be at some point. You can also take a look where the hurricane hit already and where are the danger zones.
Put together an evacuation plan
When you’re living in a hurricane prone area, making a hurricane evaluation plan is another important thing to do.
Hurricanes are quite unexpected and you don’t want to spend your last minutes in the house thinking about what you need to take or do. It’s wise that you create a family evacuation plan which contains a possible escape route to a safer destination. You also need to call ahead to a shelter so that you have somewhere to go to in case of anything.
Tell your friends and family where are your planning to go if something goes wrong. Your cars should be full of gas and it’s also wise to have plenty of cash on you.
Build your emergency kit
This step doesn’t address only the people living in hurricane prone areas, but to anyone owning a home. However, having an emergency kit is mandatory if there’s even a slight chance of hurricane any time soon.
You can get a pre-made emergency kit or you can put together one of your own, according to your family’s needs.
Here are some items to put in your emergency kit:
- Food- get easy to prepare items (3-day supply in case of evacuation. If you’re not going to leave, make sure you have enough for 2 weeks). Get non-perishable food.
- Water- you should put aside 1 gallon per person, for each day (3-day supply when you’re going to evacuate. Prepare 2-week supply if you’re going to stay)
- Batteries (plenty of them)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Medications (for 7 days) and various medical items
- Cell phones with chargers
- Emergency blanket
- Family and emergency contact information
- Copies of your personal documents (proof of address, medication list, passports, birth certificates, lease to home, insurance policies)
- Maps of your area
- Plenty of cash
This is just the emergency kit. You should try your best to feel comfortable and positive so some items could make your family members feel better throughout the hurricane. Here are some things that could bring some comfort during this misfortunate time:
- Baby supplies (baby food, diapers, bottles)
- Medical supplies (contact lenses, glasses, hearing aids etc.)
- Games and activities for your kids
- Two-way radios
- Manual can opener
- Spare keys for your car and home
- Pet supplies (if you have any. Leash, collar, ID, food, bowl and carrier are going to come in handy).
In addition, you should always keep some items in your survival kit. Adjust its content to the type of disasters that happen in your area. Here are some ideas:
- Rain gear
- N95 or some surgical masks
- Plastic sheeting
- Duct tape
- Scissors and tools for securing your home
- Hat, tough shoes and extra clothing
- Blankets and/or sleeping bags
- Household liquid bleach
Prepare your floors for flooding
The risk for flooding when a hurricane hits is pretty high and once it starts pouring, you can only wait for it to go away. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepare for the rain ahead. Using some sandbags is going to make a big difference. They’re pretty easy to find at your local hardware store.
You can also make your very own sandbags with some plastic bags and…sand. Even if the sandbags aren’t going to prevent the flood damage, they’re still going to reduce the damage as they divert flood water away from your house (as long as you know where to place them).
You’re going to need to make a sand-bag barrier. Once your sandbags are well filled and maintained, here are the steps to take:
- You should only fill the sandbags only one-half full. You can also use soil if there’s no sand around.
- You need to fold the top of sandbag down, resting the body on its folded top. You also need to stack in the sandbags
- You shouldn’t use more than 3 layers. You can go with more than 3 if your building serves as a backing or if you’re building a pyramid
- Make sure that the sandbags stay in place and complete each layer before getting to the next one. You should also clear a path between your buildings so that the debris is able to flow.
- Place a plastic sheet in between the building and the bags as you need to control the flow somehow. You also want to prevent water from seeping into any glass doors.
Note: There’s only so much that sandbags are able to do. Here’s what to keep in mind:
- They cannot seal out water and they do eventual tear after continuous wetting and drying.
- They lose efficiency when you place them too early.
- They can only work for small water flow protection (no higher than 2 feet)
- If you’re using them for protection against contaminated flood water, you should handle them with care. They can also pose an environmental hazard.
In case of larger flow, some sandbags aren’t going to do it. You should get in touch with someone from the local environmental protection department before building.
You need to clean the gutters
Cleaning the gutters is no picnic at all as you never know what you’re going to find up there.
However, cleaning the gutters is fundamental when you live in a hurricane prone area. You should have them flow the right way as you want water to go away from your home.
Maintaining your clutters clean is going to reduce the risk for the water to splash back against the roof/under the roof covering and damaging your home.
You should get in touch with professional cleaners or you can do it on your own, if you know you’re up for it.
Don’t wait if a gutter isn’t working wright or it looks like it needs repairs.
Take care of the windows- add storm shutters
Adding storm shutters to your window isn’t something that you want to skip on. Their price is a pet peeve for many (they sure don’t come cheap), but they’re a wise investment when preparing your home for the hurricane.
Many storm shutters out there are made of a type of metal (aluminum or steel) and you can get them at your hardware store.
Installing storm shutters takes time so you don’t want post pone it until it’s too late. If your money is tight, go with some temporary emergency plywood shutters. It’s better than nothing.
Don’t forget to check the roof
You should have your roof in perfect condition at all time, not only when a hurricane is approaching. The specialist recommend that you should seek that your roof doesn’t miss any shingles or tiles.
Get a pair of binoculars, taking a good look at your roof. Better yet, go up to your attic so that you can inspect your roof a lot better.
Secure the outdoor items
When you’re trying to prepare everything and everyone for the hurricane, forgetting about the outside of your house completely may also happen.
Even if it sounds unusual, you should try get your outdoor furniture inside. If that’s too much for you, you should make sure that everything is extremely secured to the ground.
But it’s not only the outdoor furniture that you need to secure somehow. Don’t forget about the gardening tools, the grill or your dog’s house. Forgetting a lawn chair in the yard may be extremely dangerous, as it can blow around and even break a window.
Some loose branches or tree limbs hanging over the house are also potentially dangerous during a hurricane, so make sure you trim all of them so that you reduce the possible damage to your roof.
Always be prepare for power outage
Power lines and phone lines may fall down during a strong hurricane wind, so the risk for power outage is quite high. Using candlelight on a romantic dinner with your partner is nice and it should be done any now and then, but it’s not going to be enough when a hurricane is in the forecast.
You should get a generator as you need to be prepared when you’re left without electricity. Use it according to the directions as you want to keep the carbon monoxide risk under control.
Just in case, here are our tips that are going to help you get through an electrical outage:
- Get enough cash
During a power outage, you should always have cash. Even if some stores are going to remain open, chances are they’re not going to be able to process credit cards. Make sure you have an emergency cash stash around your house.
- Turn the car into a generator
Use a power inverter that is going to turn DC current from the car into AC current for various electric gadgets. You can use small units to recharge your phone or computer. Larger units are going to power your fridge or other power tools.
- Gas up the car
Your car plays a big part in your emergency plan. It can help you run away, charge your cell phones and even keep you warm. Make sure that the tank is full. Don’t hesitate to fill the gas cans, in case you have any. Gas stations aren’t going to be able to pump gas into your tank during a power outage.
- Use the batteries wisely
The LED flashlights and lanterns are the best solution. The batteries last longer (even 10 times more) and they come with so many extra features.
You may be tempted to use candlelight but it’s safer not to. Not only the flashlights give you more light, but they also don’t pose a risk for burning your house down.
- Fill the grill tank
If anything goes bad, you can easily grill everything you have in your fridge and freezer. As you no longer have the power to cool the food, you may at least get the best out of it.
- Fill the tub
Once your power grid goes down, chances are your city water supply is going to fall as well. It’s better to fill all buckets and bottles you have with water. Fill the bathtub as well. Use some duct tape to seal the drain as most drains aren’t that tight and the water is going to drain eventually.
- Use a CO detector
It’s quite normal for carbon monoxide deaths to happen during blackouts. As people are trying to stay warm, they start using the gas stoves, crank up their fireplaces- everything that burns gives carbon monoxide. You should stay on the safe side a use a battery-powered CO detector along with your emergency heat source.
- Take care of your appliances
A power outage may give power surges that can damage for good your electronics in TVs, appliances or computers. You should unplug everything made with electronic elements. It’s also wise to leave one light switched on so that you know when power is restored. If you’re using a generator, check its manual as many low-budget models actually give “dirty” power that damages your electronic.
- Use ice for saving food
A power outage may spoil your food in the fridge and freezer. You should fill locking freezer bags with water and store them in your freezer. They’re great for keeping your freezer cold for longer time during a blackout. You can also use them in a cooler or fridge. Once they’re melted, you can use them for water.
You should try your best and only open the fridge and freezer when really in need. The longer your fridge remains closed, the longer the food is going to remain cold.
- Tap the water heater
You can use it as a built-in emergency water supply. You also need to let the water cool before you open the drain valve at the bottom of your tank.
- Use the bucket for flushing
A blackout may stop your well pump or the city water supply, but this doesn’t mean you cannot flush the toilet. You should dump several gallons into the bowl or simply fill the toilet tank with water. This is only for flushing as the bowl isn’t going to refill on its own during a power outage.
- Stay informed
During a blackout, the Internet system and your smartphone aren’t going to be of much help as they’re going to go down as well. You should have a battery-powered radio may be the only source that you can use for getting updates about the weather or other emergency situations. Make sure you have a portable radio. You can get models that come with a solar panel or, better yet, get a hand-crank radio for easier recharging.
Stay in touch with your neighbors
Even if family comes first, you should also care about your neighbors as a hurricane approaches. The more you are, the better the chances for you to make it safe and sound through the hurricane. Make sure you stay in touch with your neighbors (especially the elderly) before, during and after the storm. It’s quite common for people to rely on their neighbors, especially during a disaster. Talk to your neighbors about how they’re preparing, what do they need, what is their emergency plan and so on. You should welcome them in if they’re not well prepared. Don’t hesitate to go to them if your house is flooding. After all, “love thy neighbor” is something we should all do.
What do you know about your home insurance?
Getting hit by a hurricane is no fun, having your whole home damaged and not having insurance for covering the damage- that’s tragic, for sure. If you really understand what homeowner insurance coverage is, you should be out of the woods. Most standard home insurance plans do cover the wind damage, but flood damage is left out most of the time.
When you’re living in an area prone to hurricane, it’s better to play it safe and add flood coverage as well. As the policy isn’t going to be effective for 30 days, you should do it long before the storm has come. Make sure you also review your homeowner insurance one a year.
Don’t forget about your pets!
For those of you out there who also have pets, here are some things to take care of.
- Make sure that your pets are micro-chipped
- They should have up-to-date tags on the collar (in case of separation)
- Create an emergency kit for your pets as well. Include medical records, necessary medication, leashes, food and clean-up items. Keep the kit handy so that you can grab it on your way out if you’re evacuating your home.
The hurricane is here. What to do?
Assuming that you prepared everything for the hurricane, let’s see what you need to do during the hurricane in order to stay safe.
- Stay away from the windows and exterior doors. It’s better to stay in the basement or bathroom
- In case of power outage, turn off all appliances as you want to protect them from damage (the risk for power surge is high during a blackout)
- Turn off electricity at the main breaker when flooding approaches to your home
- Go to a shelter or your neighbor’s home when the home is damaged
- Stay connected with the world and monitor the radio for the weather forecast or other updates
NOT doing some actions during a hurricane is going to keep you safe to. Here are some notes to remember:
- Don’t walk, swim or drive through some flood waters. You only need 6-12 inches of water to flood you or your car.
- Don’t use any electrical equipment nor your phone, unless you really need to
- Don’t go outside, even if the storm looks like it’s all gone. The calm appearance may disappear in blink of an eye and you don’t want to be outside when it comes back
- Don’t use candles during a storm as you’re playing with fire. Go with the battery operated flashlights instead (they actually give more light).
Unplugging your electronics and appliances is fundamental. You should also remove the air conditioner fuses as you don’t want the power surges to damage them.
The hurricane is gone now. What’s left to do?
Hurricanes are eventually going to go away. Once the storm is all gone, your work isn’t complete so you do need to do one or two things around the house. Here’s the list you need to check:
- Stay away from loose, damaged or downed power lines. Get in touch with the local police and the fire department and report if you see any. Announce the local transmission and distribution services as well.
- Once the power restores, try not to turn your appliances at once. Do it one by one as you want to reduce the damage to the delicate equipment.
- Don’t use any of the electrical or gas appliances that have been wet. Don’t turn on the damaged ones as the risk for electric shock and fire is really high.
- Avoid the flood water as it may contain dangerous contaminates or debris.
- Don’t use charcoal inside your house as burning charcoal gives high levels of carbon monoxide which becomes lethal in enclosed areas.
- Don’t use a generator inside your house, even if you have ventilation. We’re talking about basement, garage or other crawlspaces. Exhaust fume may contain high levels of carbon monoxide which can kill you. Make sure you place the generator outside and away from windows and doors (at least 10 ft. away from your house). Let the generator cool completely before you refill it with gas. Using gas on a hot generator component may cause a fire.
- Follow the post-storm food and water safety rules as you want to protect everyone from contamination
- In case of water damaged, you should clean up and repair asap as you want to reduce the risk for developing mold. Put on protective gear too.
- Take photos of any damage.