Hurricane Preparedness

If a hurricane WATCH is issued for your area, you could experience hurricane force wind conditions within 36 hours.

If a hurricane WARNING is issued for your area then sustained winds of at least 74 mph are expected within 24 hours or less.

If you have not prepared for a hurricane before, you MUST get ready when a hurricane WATCH is issued. DO NOT WAIT until a WARNING is issued!

Hurricane season: June 1 – November 30.

When an Emergency such as a HURRICANE arises, you should be prepared. We have listed some hurricane facts, how to protect valuables, what supplies to have on hand, and what to do with your pets, etc.

What is a Hurricane?
Hurricanes are the most dangerous and destructive storms known to man. The swirling cyclonic winds become a hurricane when the wind velocity reaches 74+ miles per hour. Hurricanes are categorized on a scale of 1 through 5, 5 being the most destructive with winds of over 155 miles per hour and storm surge of 20 or more feet. Because of their destructive nature, hurricanes have proven themselves to be hazardous to life and property. Three primary forces that cause this destruction within a hurricane storm system are: 1) storm surge, 2) high winds, and 3) rains.

Storm surge is considered the most destructive force of the hurricane. The surge is caused by low atmospheric pressure which swirls above the ocean surface resulting in a rising dome of water from 25 to 50 miles wide. Second to the storm surge are wind and rains. Winds propel debris through the air, driven with incredible force resulting in the debris destroying objects in its path. Downed power lines are often caused by the strong winds. Unlike storm surge that hits coastal areas, high winds from a hurricane can reach miles inland. Excessive rain from water brought inland can cause extreme flooding in the low areas. Persons living in low areas or that need to travel low area roads must consider the impact this will have if an evacuation is called.

Within the center of the storm rests the “eye.” Hurricane conditions can occur almost 12 hours before the “eye” makes landfall. The eye of the storm is a very calm area and can take up to one-half hour to pass. It can be very dangerous to go out into the eye of the hurricane. After the eye has passed, the other side of the hurricane begins passing, sometimes lasting up to an hour and a half.

Preparing for the Hurricane
Being prepared for a hurricane and knowing what to do, what others will need to do, and what is expected of you and your family will lessen the fear of a hurricane threat. The KEY to safely surviving a hurricane is being prepared for what will occur before, during, and after the threat or actual hurricane hits. Hurricanes do happen. Be prepared instead of surprised — plan ahead.

    Hurricane Checklist    

Hurricane Re-entry Tags

During a Hurricane

Objects in your home can cause damage or injury. Anything that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire can be a potential hazard during a hurricane. Plan ahead what to move or secure when a hurricane threatens. Hot water heaters, may burst; bookshelves, may fall, furniture with glass, may fall and shatter; etc. Be aware of potential dangers such as these and fix or plan what to do well ahead of a hurricane watch or warning.

Why Plan So Far Ahead 
You and your family must be ready to react immediately. Quick action and total preparedness may save the life of you or someone in your family. Knowing what to do in an emergency will often times calm those who would otherwise panic. When we prepare and know what to expect, we have confidence and are better able to help those around us.

The storm surge that comes onto shore with a hurricane causes flooding especially in low areas. The hurricane causes sea levels to rise above normal creating tidal waves, with very strong under currents. These rising waters are the storm’s worst killer.

Know how high your property is above sea level and if you are located in a “flood plain.”

Plan a safe evacuation route make sure everyone knows where they are supposed to be.

Tornadoes are very likely spawned during and immediately after the hurricane. Listen for tornado watches and warnings and be prepared to take proper precautions in seeking shelter.

Things to consider when Planning Ahead

  • Take photos of your property from all angles, it may not look the same once the storm passes.

  • Plan for elderly/handicapped/invalid care at a shelter or at home.

  • Learn how your area has been affected by storm surges in the past and take special note of your property location.

  • Learn which routes will be safe during a storm.

  • Learn where official shelters are located.

  • Trim any dead wood from trees prior to the storm.

  • Check for, fix or take note of loose items on your structures (shutters, screens, eaves, gutters, antennas, satellites).

  • Get and use a hurricane tracking chart

  • Plan what you and your family will do if you have to evacuate.

  • Get necessary supplies and secure them in safe area.

  • Plan for pet care.

  • Review your insurance coverage.

  • Protect your important documents.

  • Show others in the family how to turn off/on gas, electricity, and water.

  • Make outside repairs.

Before Hurricane Season Starts
Check supplies and materials you have on hand to protect your home. If you do not have the necessary materials and you have a place to store them now is the time to purchase them. Don’t wait until a Watch or Warning is issued. There will be long lines at the store and the possibility that those items you need are sold out.

Plan to Purchase:

  • Exterior plywood and nails to board up your windows & doors (cut & paint [with exterior paint] the plywood to fit the area & overlap 4 inches; do not attach to frame, it may not hold).

  • Duct tape

  • Rope

  • Tarps

  • Work out a plan for securing outside objects they will become deadly projectiles during the storm (lawn furniture, toys, bicycles, garbage cans).

Plan to Protect Your Boat

At a marina:

  • You may be required to remove your boat, if not;

  • Double the tie downs (tie high on the piling to allow for the increase height of water).

  • Add a layer of protection (if possible) to prevent the boat from rubbing against the dock or pilings.

  • Duct tape windows and hatches.

  • Secure any small items that may be blown away or washed overboard.

At home:

  • If possible, secure boat in the garage.

  • If outside, tie down securely; remove motor and small objects.

  • Fill 1/3 to 1/2 full with water (do not fill to high, the weight may cause damage to the trailer).

  • Support the axle with blocks by each wheel.

When a Hurricane WATCH is issued:

  • Listen to official bulletins on radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio, and Internet for updates.

  • Check all supplies you already have to see if they are in satisfactory condition include batteries.

  • Fill gas tank of vehicles, check oil and tire pressure.

  • Inspect mobile home tie-downs.

  • Board, tape, cover windows and doors or skylights.

  • Secure boat.

  • Secure any objects and furniture that are outside.

  • Check on all medical supplies, special needs for elderly, handicapped, etc.

  • Plan to evacuate if necessary.

When a Hurricane Warning is Issued

  • Stay tuned to TV, radio, Internet or NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Move valuables to higher location
  • Move furniture away from windows and cover.
  • Fill containers (bathtub, plastic jugs) with drinking water.
  • Use phones only in an emergency.
  • Bring in/secure pets (food & water).
  • Shut off water and electricity at main breaker switch.
  • Leave mobile homes.
  • Leave low areas. If evacuating–leave early.

When ALL CLEAR is Given

  • Continue listening to bulletins.
  • Wait until area is declared safe before returning or venturing outside.
  • Avoid weakened bridges/barricaded roadways.
  • Stay on firm ground.
  • Check all utilities for damage.
  • Do not use tap water for drinking or preparing food.
  • Use a flashlight to inspect for damage, avoid open flames inside.
  • Stay out of water; electrical lines may be down.
  • Don’t sightsee, water from vehicles sends wakes into other’s property

Protect Your Valuables

  • Make copies of all important documents, birth certificates, marriage license, mortgage papers, deeds, insurance policies, etc. Put originals in a safe, dry place such as a bank deposit. Do the same with jewelry.

  • Oriental rugs, area rugs, and drapes should be wrapped up and secured with duct tape. Put them in a high place such as an attic or on top of a dresser.

  • Put valuable furniture up on cement blocks. You may want to cover with plastic drop cloths.

  • Turn off the main circuit breaker and unplug all appliances to minimize damage.

What to Do with Pets

  • Make sure pets are current on shots.

  • Obtain a pet carrier.

  • Choose an easily cleaned area away from the windows to leave pets.

  • If you plan to go to a shelter, make plans at an animal shelter for your pets.

  • If you leave your pet behind, leave dry foods and water in sturdy containers.

  • Separate dogs, cats, birds, etc.

Plan Your Evacuation Route

  • Decide ahead of time where you will stay.

  • Have an evacuation map marked with several alternate routes (have several copies of this map, put one with your supplies).

  • Do not go to shelters unless you have been officially advised by local authorities.

Shelter Information

  • Shelter locations will be announced on TV or radio.

  • If you are able to make other safe arrangements, it is advisable that you do.

  • Shelters may get extremely crowded.

DO NOT BRING to the shelter

  • Pets
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Weapons/combustibles

What to Expect at a Shelter

  • No one is turned away, it may get crowded. Shelters are smoke-free.
  • Bring games, books, crayons, cards, and magazines to pass the time.
  • Expect the area to have a loud atmosphere.
  • Privacy is at a minimum.
  • Lights out at 10:00 pm, then a need for silence.
  • Food, clothing, medical personnel and counseling will be available.
  • Please, be courteous and thoughtful to those sharing the shelter.

What to Bring to the Shelter

  • Pillows, blankets, sleeping bags, or air mattresses.
  • Extra clothing, glasses, shoes, etc.
  • Lightweight folding chairs/cots.
  • Personal hygiene items.
  • Games, cards, books.
  • Paper, pencils.
  • Important papers/documents.
  • Identification.

If You Plan to Stay Home

  • Make sure your building is well-constructed.

  • Turn the refrigerator to maximum cold.

  • Freeze water in plastic containers, if the electricity goes off you can use the ice to keep food cold in the refrigerator.

  • Turn off utilities if told to do so by the authorities.

  • Unplug small appliances.

  • Fill bathtub and containers with water.

  • Stay indoors.

  • Prepare for storm surge and possible flooding.

  • Plan what to do if the winds become too strong.

  • Stay away from windows and doors, even if covered.

  • Stay in a small interior room, hallway, or closet.

  • Close all inside doors, brace exterior doors.

  • If you have a two-story house, stay on the first floor.

  • Lie on the floor or under a table or other sturdy object.