The worst thing a person can do when a hurricane or other natural disaster is imminent, is not prepare. In fact, there are two things that contribute to safety during a major storm: preparing in advance and acting on those preparations.
1. Plan for Evacuation
The biggest reason people must evacuate during a hurricane is due to a storm surge – the abnormal rise of water that comes with strong winds. Listen closely to authorities to find out the evacuation routes and areas, but also, familiarize yourself and your family with this information before a storm hits. If you have pets, or care for elderly or disabled relatives, make sure to include them in your evacuation plan.
2. Stock Up
One of the most important things to do when preparing for a storm is to buy supplies in advance and keep them handy should an evacuation be necessary. Create a go bag with all the essential items you will need, like water, food, flashlights, cash, and other necessities that you can grab in an emergency. Make sure every member of the household knows where the bag is and how to make use of it. Even if you plan on heading to a shelter, keep in mind that shelters can fill up quickly, which means they risk running out of supplies just as quickly.
3. Review Insurance Coverage
Carefully review your insurance policies and ensure that you are protected against hurricanes, storms, and flooding. Flooding coverage may need to be purchased under a separate policy. If you own a car, you should also contact your car insurance provider and move your vehicle to an off-site location or secured building if you will not need it during the storm.
4. Gather Important Documents
Make copies of all your important documents, including proof of ownership of your vehicles and property. Store those, along with Social Security information, birth/marriage/death certificates, passports, and the like in a waterproof container and keep it stored in your go bag or in another safe location that will not be damaged during the storm.
5. Protect Your Property
Carefully inspect your property to ensure there is no damage that could be made worse by a hurricane. If there are issues with the overall structure, repair them as soon as you can, including damaged roofs and loose shingles. Keep in mind that any potential compromises to the house or roof can be aggravated by strong winds and rains.
Bring anything that could get tossed around or cause damage inside (like chairs and benches) or secure them tightly outside. Also, cover your windows with plywood and place additional security over doors to keep them from being blown open.
6. Back Up Electronics
Besides keeping a supply of chargers and batteries for storms, you should also backup your electronic devices. Store your data at an off-site location so that you can recover it if something happens to your devices during a storm.
Don’t forget to create an emergency communication plan and make sure the entire household knows how to use it so that you can report to one another during or after a major storm.