Ahead of the storm: Hurricane preparedness guide
Last updated: January 1
Getting your home and your family ready for hurricane season isn't as easy as just boarding up the windows and taking off. Use these tips to help make sure you and your family are protected if your home is threatened by a hurricane.
Stock emergency supplies
Make sure to have a basic emergency kit with the following items for you and your family, according to Ready.gov:
- 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
- At least three-day supply of nonperishable foods
- Manual can opener
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Wrench or pliers for turning off utilities if needed
- First-aid kit
- Necessary medications, including glasses and contact lenses
- Moist towelettes, toothpaste and personal hygiene products
- Sleeping bag for each person
- At least one complete change of clothing for each person
- Inverter or solar charger to keep mobile phones charged
- NOAA weather radio (and extra batteries)
Prepare and protect your property
Protecting your home from a hurricane should start long before a tropical weather watch is issued. Here are some steps you can take:
- Ensure you have hurricane shutters, or 3/4-inch-thick outdoor plywood boards for each window of your home, the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Library suggests.
- Pre-drill holes in the plywood (experts recommend the holes be 18 inches apart) and keep the plywood, screws, ladder and screwdriver handy.
- The National Weather Service says you should remove any weak or dead limbs from trees and shrubs to help prevent these items from becoming projectiles in high winds.
- Also, consider building a safe room in your home that can withstand high winds and flying debris, suggests the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
It's also important to understand how your insurance may or may not help cover damage caused by a hurricane. Visit Allstate's Disaster Help Center for resources about hurricane damage and insurance.
Create a home inventory
Keeping track of your belongings by maintaining a home inventory or using an app, such as Allstate's mobile app, can help make it easier to assess your insurance coverage needs. A home inventory may also help facilitate the claim process if your property is damaged by a covered loss as a result of a hurricane. Your home inventory should note each item and its value. Don't forget the contents of closets, drawers and cabinets. Store your home inventory lists, photographs and video tapes in a safe place off the premises, the California Department of Insurance suggests. Update your home inventory after making any significant purchases. Keep all receipts, especially for big items such as jewelry and furs. Valuable items may need separate insurance coverage.
Plan your evacuation
If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you may want to have an evacuation plan. Consider the following steps before the storm hits:
- Become familiar with alternate routes. Map out routes in different directions in case travel becomes treacherous or traffic becomes too congested, Ready.gov suggests.
- If you don't have a car, Ready.gov says you should make a plan for how you will leave if you need to evacuate. Talk with family or friends to make transportation arrangements in case of an evacuation. Your local government or aid agencies may also be able to provide assistance.
- Plan for what you'll do with your pets, whether you'll be able to take them with you, leave them with family or friends or take them to a kennel.
- Keep a road map in your vehicle in case you need to devise an alternate route on unfamiliar roads.
- Prepare a bag or file with important papers, such as your homeowners insurance policy, and keep the file with you if weather forecasts include the potential for a hurricane.
48 hours before the storm
If you find yourself within hours or days of a hurricane striking your area, and you haven't done anything to get ready, don't panic. There are several things you can do in the last few hours to be better prepared:
- Track the storm path and projected risk areas at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/. Monitor weather conditions with a battery-powered NOAA weather radio. This will help ensure you receive the most up-to-date information, including forecasts and additional watches or warnings.
- Bring all lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants (and anything else that could be picked up by the wind) inside. Anchor objects that cannot be brought inside, Ready.gov suggests.
- Turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting and keep it closed, Ready.gov says, so the food won't go bad as quickly if you lose electrical power.
- Make sure all your family vehicles have at least a half-tank of gas. Ready.gov says filling stations may be closed or unable to pump gas during power outages.