Hurricane Survival

Before the Storm
Elevation of Your Home Above Sea Level
Get this information from local Emergency Management officials. Your nearest Weather Service office can supply flood data for area streams and waterways. Find out if your home is subject to storm surge (tidal) flooding.
Maximum Storm Surge Which Might Occur
Information about the potential for inland flooding and storm surge is available through your local Emergency Management Office.
Route to Safety If You Have to Leave
Plan your escape route early. Check with Emergency Management for low points and flooding history of your route. Check the number of hours it could take you to evacuate to a safe area during peak evacuation traffic.
Location of Nearest Official Shelter
Emergency Management can give you the location of the shelter nearest your home and explain what you should bring with you. Plan for your family's safety. Know how to contact family members should the need arise.
How Safe is Your Home?
Near the seashore, plan to relocate during a hurricane emergency. If you live in a mobile home, always plan to relocate.
The Inventory of Your Property
A complete inventory of personal property will help in obtaining insurance settlements and/or tax deductions for losses. Inventory checklists can be obtained from your insurance representative. Don't trust your memory. List descriptions and take pictures. Store these and other important insurance papers in waterproof containers or in your safety deposit box.
What Your Insurance Will Cover
Review your insurance policies and your coverage to avoid misunderstanding later. Take advantage of flood insurance. Separate policies are needed for protection against wind and flood damage, which people frequently don't realize until too late.
If a Watch is Issued
Monitor storm reports on radio and television
If considering moving to a shelter, make arrangements for all pets. Pets are not allowed in shelters.
Refill needed prescriptions.
If evacuation has not already been recommended, consider leaving the area early to avoid long hours on limited evacuation routes.
Check Supplies
Transistor radio with fresh batteries. Radio will be your most useful information source. Have enough batteries to last several days. There may be no electricity.
Flashlights, Candles or Lamps, Matches
Store matches in waterproof container. Have lantern fuel for several days. Know how to use safely.
Full Tank of Gasoline
Never let your vehicle gas tank be less than half-full during hurricane season; fill up as soon as a hurricane watch is posted. Remember, when there is no electricity, gas pumps won't work.
Canned Goods and Non-Perishable Foods
Store packaged foods which can be prepared without cooking and need no refrigeration. There may be no electricity or gas.
Containers for Drinking Water
Have clean, air-tight containers to store sufficient drinking water for several days. The local water supply could be interrupted or contaminated.
Materials for Protecting Glass Openings
Have shutters or lumber for protecting large windows and doors and masking tape for use on small windows.
Materials for Emergency Repairs
Your insurance policy may cover the cost of materials used in temporary repairs, so keep all receipts. These will also be helpful for any income tax deductions.
If a Warning is Issued
Listen Constantly to Radio or TV
Keep a log of hurricane position, intensity and expected landfall. Discount rumors. Use telephone sparingly.
If You Live in a Mobile Home
Check tie-downs and leave immediately for a safer place. Mobile homes are not safe in hurricane force winds.
Prepare for High Winds
Brace your garage door. Lower antennas. Be prepared to make repairs.
Anchor Objects Outside
Garbage cans, awnings, loose garden tools, toys and other loose objects can be deadly missiles. Anchor securely or bring indoors.
Protect Windows and Other Glass
Board up or shutter large windows securely. Tape exposed glass to reduce shattering. Draw drapes across windows and doors to protect against flying glass if shattering does occur.
Move Boats on Trailers Close to House
Fill boats with water to weigh them down. Lash securely to trailer and use tie-downs to anchor trailer to the ground or house.
Check mooring lines of boats in water
Store Valuable and Personal Papers
Put irreplaceable documents in waterproof containers and store in highest possible spot. If you evacuate be sure to take them with you.
Prepare for Storm Surge, Tornadoes and Floods
Storm surge, tornadoes and flash floods are the worst killers associated with a hurricane. In a tornado warning, seek inside shelter below ground level. If outside, move away at right angles from tornado; if escape is impossible, lie flat in a ditch or low spot. The surge of ocean water plus flash flooding of streams and rivers due to torrential rains combine to make drowning the greatest cause of hurricane deaths.
If You Stay at Home
Stay Indoors…
In an inside room away from doors and windows. Don't go out in the brief calm during passage of the eye of the storm. The lull sometimes ends suddenly as winds return from the opposite direction. Winds can increase in seconds to 75 mph or more.
Protect Property
Without taking any unnecessary risks, protect your property from damage. Temporary repairs can reduce your losses.
Stay Away From Windows and Glass Doors
Move furniture away from exposed doors and windows.
Keep a Continuous Communications Watch
Keep radio or television tuned for information from official sources. Unexpected changes can sometimes call for last minute relocations.
Remain Calm
Your ability to meet emergencies will help others.
If You Must Evacuate
Know Where You Are Going
Leave early, in daylight if possible. move your most valuable possessions that you can't take with you to higher points within your home.
For Shelters
Take blankets or sleeping bags, flashlights, special dietary foods, infant needs and lightweight folding chairs. Register every person arriving with you at the shelter. Do not take pets, alcoholic beverages or weapons of any kind to shelters. Be prepared to offer assistance to shelter workers if necessary, and stress to all family members their obligations to keep the shelter clean and sanitary.
Don't Travel Farther Than Necessary
Roads may be jammed. Don't let your stranded auto become your coffin.
Lock Windows and Doors
Turn off gas, water, electricity. Check to see that you have done everything to protect your property from damage and loss.
Carry Along Survival Supplies
  • First Aid Kit
  • Canned or dried provisions, can opener, spoons, etc.
  • Bottled water
  • Extra family medication, prescriptions
  • Spare eyeglasses, hearing aid and batteries, if required.
Keep Important Papers with You at All Times
  • Driver's License and other identification
  • Insurance policies
  • Property inventory
  • Medic-alert or device with special medical information
  • Maps to your destination
Take Warm Protective Clothing
After the Storm
If You Are Evacuated, Delay Return Until Recommended Or Authorized by Local Authorities
Beware of Outdoor Hazards
Watch out for loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to proper authorities. Many lives are lost by electrocution.
Walk or Drive Cautiously
Debris-filled streets are dangerous. Snakes and poisonous insects may be a hazard. Washouts may weaken road and bridge structures which could collapse under vehicle weight.
Guard Against Spoiled Food
Food may spoil if refrigerator power is off more than a few hours. Freezers will keep food several days if doors are not opened after power failure, but do not refreeze food once it begins to thaw.
Do Not Use Water Until Safe
Use your emergency supply or boil water before drinking until official word that the water is safe. Report broken sewer or water mains to proper authorities.
Take Extra Precautions to Prevent Fire
Lowered water pressure in city and town water mains and the interruption of other services may make fire fighting extremely difficult after a hurricane.
The Recovery
Insurance representatives will be on the scene immediately following a major disaster to speed up the handling of claims. Notify your insurance agent or broker of any losses — and leave word where you can be contacted.
Take Steps to Protect Property
Make temporary repairs to protect property from further damage or looting. Use only reputable contractors (sometimes in the chaotic days following a disaster, unscrupulous operators will prey on the unsuspecting) — check the Better Business Bureau. Keep all receipts for materials used.
It Takes a Team Effort
Responsibility for the clean-up falls to numerous local, state and federal agencies. A local disaster coordinator/director or his representative will be on hand to help residents in this effort.