Hurricane Preparedness Tips: Stay Safe During A Pandemic

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Girl crying with hand on window in rainThe 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be more active than usual.1 Forecasters predict there will be at least 16 storms this year and a 69% chance of at least one major hurricane making landfall along U.S. shores.2

As we face more frequent and ferocious storms, it’s essential to know how to prepare for a hurricane if you live along or near the coast or in another flood-prone area. Follow our tips, and you’ll be ready to keep your family safe.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important to follow the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for evacuation plans.

  • Pack protective items such as hand sanitizer, cleaning materials and two cloth face coverings per person.
  • Children under 2 and people with breathing troubles should not wear face coverings.
  • Wash your hands regularly and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between you and non-household members.

Additionally, many shelters and standard evacuation locations may be closed. So, contact local officials in advance to know your options.

Article Overview

Stay Informed

Once you hear the mere mention of a possible hurricane, it’s time to tune in frequently to local and national weather reports to keep an eye on the storm’s track. The following information is crucial to keep in mind:

  • Know if you live in a flood-prone or evacuation area and where to find evacuation routes.
  • Understand the difference between a hurricane watch (hurricane conditions are a threat within 48 hours) and a hurricane warning (hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours).
  • Make sure you have contact numbers handy for your local law enforcement and emergency services, your local Red Cross, hospitals, utility companies, and your property insurance agent.

Plan Ahead

Don’t wait to put your hurricane preparedness checklist together. This is something you can do before hurricane season even arrives.

Family Emergency Plan

A family emergency plan is important for unexpected or imminent natural disasters like a tornado or earthquake, but it still makes sense to have one in place if a hurricane causes far more destruction than forecasters anticipate.

Your family may not be together when a hurricane hits, so make sure you know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if you get separated by flooding, severe wind damage or evacuations.

Hurricane Supply List

Editor’s Pick
Ready America 70280 Emergency KitReady America 70280 Emergency Kit

The American Red Cross recommends the following supplies for a hurricane kit. Also, be sure to read our disaster survival kit reviews for the best emergency kits you should have on-hand for your car, home and office.

  • Water and non-perishable food — at least a 3-day supply
  • Flashlights
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and any other necessary medical items
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • List of emergency contacts
  • Mobile phones with chargers
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing and shoes
  • Rain gear
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Printed recent photos of your family members, including pets

Hurricane Supply Checklist Infographic

Here’s a handy checklist you can print out or reference easily.

Hurricane Supply Checklist Infographic

Evacuation Plan

In the event your local authorities issue a voluntary or mandatory evacuation, you need to have a plan in place.

  • Plan how and where you’ll go if you’re told to evacuate.
  • Know where the nearest emergency shelters are operating. If you have pets, most public shelters will only take service animals.
  • If needed, identify a place to go that takes pets (friend’s house, hotel).
  • Have a portable emergency kit stocked and ready to go.
  • Follow the identified evacuation route. Don’t take shortcuts, as there may be flooding or damage on the roads.

When It’s Time To Take Action

If you’ve been upgraded from a hurricane watch to a hurricane warning, you have precious little time (36 or fewer hours) to put all your plans into practice. Here’s what you should do:

  • Make sure your hurricane emergency kit is fully stocked.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank.
  • Bring in all loose items from your porch and yard (bicycles, lawn furniture).
  • Secure your hurricane shutters or board up all windows and doors with plywood.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings so your food will last longer if the power goes out.
  • Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
  • Follow your evacuation plan if necessary.
  • Charge your cell phone and prep a battery backup, if you have one.
  • Fill bathtubs with water in case clean water supply is cut off.

What To Do During A Hurricane

  • Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
  • During high winds, go to a small, interior, windowless room or hallway on the lowest floor that’s not subject to flooding.
  • If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest floor. Don’t climb into a closed attic — you may become trapped by floodwaters.
  • Keep your radio on for the latest emergency notifications.
  • Use a generator outdoors only and away from windows.
  • Don’t walk, swim, or drive through floodwaters. You can get knocked down by just six inches of fast-moving water, and only one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Avoid bridges over fast-moving water.

After The Storm

  • Avoid areas that are prone to subsequent flooding once the storm ends.
  • If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it’s safe.
  • Steer clear of loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately.
  • Stay out of any building that has water around it.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you’re sure it’s not contaminated.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage.
  • Take pictures of any damage to your home, including the structure and contents, for insurance

Does Taping Windows Work?

We’ve all seen images of people taping up windows in preparation for a hurricane, but does this really protect your home? Check out the following video for expert advice.

Save Time By Buying Emergency Kits

If you’re worried you won’t have time to assemble a hurricane preparedness kit during an impending storm, why not purchase pre-assembled emergency kits? Then, you can focus on other safety measures for your family during this frightening time.

Be sure to check out our reviews of the best emergency preparedness kits and best emergency food kits that you can buy now and always have on hand.

What tips do you have for hurricane safety? 

Sources: [1] [2] USA Today, American Red Cross;

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance.

Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

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