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How to Survive a Hurricane

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All Atlantic and Gulf coastal areas are subject to hurricanes or tropical storms. If you live in a susceptible area, be prepared! Here are tips on how to survive a hurricane and official safety guidelines for hurricanes.

(Also, see our Related Articles to the right on predicting hurricanes, hurricane forecasts and questions, measuring hurricanes, tracking maps, and more.)

What is a Hurricane?

This tropical storm can cause torrential rains, high winds, storm surges, and flooding for up to 2 weeks or more over open water and can follow a path across the entire length of the eastern seaboard, coastal areas, and barrier islands.

FEMA Safety Guidelines for Hurricanes

Before a Hurricane

  • Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent misdirected flooding.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Consider building a safe room.
  • Keep articles in your basement elevated to avoid damage from even minor flooding.
  • Keep a well-stocked Family Disaster Kit in case you lose power. Think about what you might need if you are isolated for a number of days.

During a Hurricane

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should: 

  • Stay informed by monitoring the store via radio, TV, and internet.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors. Objects such as lawn furniture, trash barrels, hanging plants, toys, and even awnings can be broken and picked up by strong winds and potentially become a projectile.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks. Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Keep your vehicles fully fueled.
  • Have a certain amount of cash available. If power is lost, ATMs may not be working.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.

You should evacuate under the following conditions: 

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
  • If you feel that you are in danger.

If you are unable to evacuate, go to your safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines: 

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.  

Recovering from Disaster

Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Safety is a primary issue, as are mental and physical well-being. For specific health, safety, and rebuilding guidelines regarding recovery, please see the FEMA Web site. 

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Comments

What if you don't have a

By Daniela

What if you don't have a basement?

How to use electricity when a

By Mattew Castell

How to use electricity when a hurricane is upon us. We have seen cases of fatal accidents, with electricity.I wonder, is it safe to use appliances during a storm.
Thank you

Hi, Mattew: If a hurricane is

By Almanac Staff

Hi, Mattew: If a hurricane is "upon" you, you should be hunkered down, as you know. Period. Is it safe to use appliances? Possibly, maybe even probably. Is it wise to use appliances? Definitely not. Are you going to get some sort of surge if you're holding something and outside wires get downed and crossed? Who wants to find out? The best thing to do, if at all possible, is to get those laptops and phones fully charged when you know that a hurricane is on the way, and then turn off the power to your house. The less live juice there is around, the more live you and yours there are going to be around. We can also report this: One time in big wind storm, a local low voltage line got dropped onto a higher-voltage one. This not only blew out power to our whole village, but blew out all the surge protectors and outlets in our house, which had that burning smell. There was smoke coming out of the outlets. No fire, thankfully, but it wasn't pretty. We commend you for even thinking about electricity in a hurricane -- it's one of those lurking dangers that no one ever thinks about!

You have to be careful if you

By tommy powell

You have to be careful if you live in a lower elevation. I knew people who were killed in a storm surge flood.......they can sometimes even destroy safe rooms.

Coming from someone who has

By jennifer.v

Coming from someone who has been in the middle of two hurricanes I cannot back up this article enough. This is sound advice and I hope everyone listens. If you study the weather patterns enough and know what the high pressure ridge is then you will know when it is time to prepare.

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