Before the Storm
- Begin preparing by building an emergency kit and making a family communications plan.
- Familiarize yourself with area roads and evacuation routes in the event you must evacuate quickly.
- Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
- Make a destination plan to know where you would go and how you would get there if you must evacuate the area.
- Make plans to secure your property by:
- Covering all windows.
- Installing straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.
- Trim trees around your house so they are more wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Reinforce your garage doors to help prevent expensive structural damage.
- Identify an inside location to store all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans, and anything else that is not tied down, such as a boat.
- A generator can help keep your family safe and more comfortable during prolonged power outages. Take the time now to inspect your generator and perform routine maintenance to insure it is ready when a hurricane occurs. Routine maintenance should include inspection of filters, oil levels, air vents, and hoses.
Hurricanes can cause heavy rains and extensive flood damage in coastal and inland areas. If you are at risk, consider flood insurance protection. Flood insurance is the only way to financially protect your property or business from flood damage. To learn more about your flooding risk and how to protect yourself and your business, visit the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (NFIP) Web site, www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419.
During a Hurricane
- If a hurricane is forecast for your area, take the following steps to help keep you and your family safe until the storm passes:
- Tune in to local radio or TV stations for current weather news.
- Secure your home by closing storm shutters. Also secure outdoor property or bring it indoors if it cannot be secured.
- In the event of a power outage, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep the doors cold. This will help keep food safe.
- Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies, in order to prolong its battery life.
- Store a supply of water for sanitary purpose such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
Unless otherwise instructed by local authorities, you should evacuate under the following conditions:
- If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure.
- If you live in a high-rise building.
- If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an island waterway.
If you are unable to evacuate, go to a wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:
- Stay indoors during the hurricane, away from windows and glass doors.
- Close all interior doors, and if possible, brace external doors.
- Close all curtains and blinds.
- Gather your family in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level. Keep an eye on rising waters, however, and seek shelter out of flood water danger.
After a Hurricane
When the hurricane has ended you should:
- Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.
- If you have become separated from your family, use your family communication plan or contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS/1-800-733-2767 or visit the American Red Cross Safe and Well site: www.safeandwell.org
- The American Red Cross also maintains a database to help you find family. Contact the local American Red Cross chapter where you are staying for information. Do not contact the chapter in the disaster area.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- If you cannot return home and have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP Code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
- For those who have longer-term housing needs, FEMA offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance on their Web site.
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- If you believe it is safe to do so, walk carefully around the outside your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage before entering.
- If you smell gas, if flood waters remain around the building, or if your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe do not enter the building.
- Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
- Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. DO NOT use candles. Note: The flashlight should be turned on outside before entering – the battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
- Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that might have been geographically dislocated due to flood waters. Use a stick to poke through debris before reaching with your hands.
- Do not use tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- NEVER use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds, or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.