Hurricane Prep Checklist: Know. Prepare. Plan.
The Atlantic coastline and the Gulf of Mexico are gearing up for this year’s hurricane season. This means getting ready for strong winds, rain, and rising waters. Don’t get caught off guard. Use this checklist to make sure you and your family are prepared for what this hurricane season has in store.
1. Know the risk.
Hurricanes are known for storm surges, high winds, rip currents, and flooding, with storm surges as the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths (Ready.gov 2022). Even if you aren’t on the coast, hurricanes can still affect you. Be sure you are aware of the risks in your area. A great resource for updates is the FEMA app on both Apple App Store and the Google Play app, which also helps you locate local shelters, monitor national weather, and helps you plan for emergencies with customizable lists.
2. Have a plan.
Think about what emergency numbers you need, the routes to the nearest shelter, the best evacuation routes, and where your pet will stay. Be sure to share the emergency plan with your family.
Another big part of the plan is to have your emergency supplies. These are things like food and water for three days, a first aid kit and medical supplies, medications you take regularly, safety and personal items, important documents such as forms of ID, passports, birth certificates, licenses, etc., and flood control products like sandless sandbags or flood barriers for your home entryways.
3. Do a document check-up.
Is your ID and insurance documents up to date? Double-check everything and make sure everything is current. Make sure to have your insurance documents, your insurance agent's contact information, and a way to document damages. Taking photographs of damages on your phone is helpful, as you might be asked to upload photos on your insurance app. You may be asked to submit damages in written form, so have a legal pad or notebook on hand (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 2019).
National Hurricane Survival Initiative has a pre-made emergency checklist ready to go and gives you an idea of how much of everything you need per day.
5. Know the difference between a hurricane “watch” vs. a “warning.”
A “watch” means that winds of 74 mph are possible in the area. This comes about 48 hours before experts expect tropical storm winds (39 to 73 mph). A “warning” is when hurricane-force winds are expected in the area. This warning happens 36 hours before tropical storm winds happen to prepare for possible evacuation (CDC 2019).
6. Have your car ready.
Fill your gas tank, move vehicles into covered areas, and if you don’t own a car, make a plan with family or friends who can help you evacuate, or look up your local bus schedule to see if your city is evacuating people by bus.
7. Get family and pets ready.
Share the emergency plan with your family, continually check for updates on the storm via TV stations, radio, or smartphone apps, and have a plan for loved ones who are disabled. Be sure to put pets and animals in a safe place.
Make sure your pet’s tags and microchip information are updated and bring your pet’s vaccination documents with you. Put your pet’s name and your contact information on their carrier, harness, and leash. Be sure to bring enough food, water, medications, and other pet essentials for two weeks.
The CDC provides excellent resources for pet safety in emergencies.
8. Check with your neighbors and friends to be sure they have a plan.
Check with your neighbors and friends to see if they need help evacuating or securing their homes.
9. Be ready to evacuate or stay home.
Follow authorities’ recommendations to evacuate. Grab emergency kits and only the essentials such as phones, chargers, medicines, IDs, licenses, and cash. Unplug appliances and turn off the gas, water, and electricity if possible. Follow evacuation routes, and do not try to drive through water!
To stay home:
Keep the emergency kit accessible. Listen for updates via TV stations, radio, or smartphone apps. Stay inside-even if it looks calm. Stay away from windows. Be ready to leave if authorities say to do so.
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