Hurricanes are without any doubt one of the worst natural disasters that can hit your area during peak hurricane seasons. These powerful storms are dangerous because they travel at speeds above 76 mph, which is enough to root trees out of their place, destroy small buildings, and even cause damage to personal property such as cars.
Personal property, buildings, and trees are however not the only things threatened by a hurricane. Your family and pets are also affected by them. If a hurricane exceeds category 3, it could very well be life-threatening to you and your family. This is why it is very important to know what to do before, during and after a hurricane to ensure that you and your family stay safe.
Before we discuss what you need to do during a hurricane to stay safe, we’ll outline a evacuation plan which is very important. During a hurricane, you may need to evacuate immediately depending on the intensity of the storm and the warnings from local weather authorities. Having an emergency evacuation plan will help you smoothly move from a dangerous area to a safe one. Here is how you can prepare for one.
Preparing an Emergency Evacuation Plan for Hurricane
It is common sense to prepare for natural disasters like a devastating hurricane or earthquake. You should be thinking about the evacuation plan in such a way that if you have to evacuate your home immediately, there should be no loopholes left. The plan should have everything outlined to help you evacuate immediately when a warning comes in.
An evacuation plan for a hurricane that is discussed with your family before the disaster even hits is a good strategy to stay alive in case of a chaotic hurricane. Consider how you will escape your home, where you will go, how will you get there, and how your family members will communicate with each other during the entire process.
Here are some very important things to consider when making an emergency evacuation plan for a hurricane.
- Make sure you and your family are aware of a spot to meet outside your home during the evacuation process. This meeting spot should be at a safe distance from the evacuation area.
- You must have an evacuation route in your mind. It is a good idea to map this route on a paper and hand it out to all the family members. There should be alternate routes in your plan too in case the main route gets blocked.
- Have a well-made communication plan for your family members if one or more than one of them is separated during an emergency evacuation. During a hurricane, you will most likely disruption in cell phone services and even your landline will go dead. Just remember that during hurricanes, most communication is made through social media, news media, and even alert broadcasts. Your family should be able to take advantage of these communication platforms if they are unable to get in touch you via smartphone.
- Make sure to always have your vehicle fuel full to the maximum. Your meeting place could be far from the evacuation area and if you don’t have enough fuel, you risk getting stuck outside which is very dangerous for you and your family.
- Make sure you have someone outside the evacuation area to reach out once you are in the safe zone. This could be anyone from your family, friends, colleagues, or even people you know in the area such as shop keepers, restaurant owners, and other people. Your family should have the contact of this person so they can reach out to them as soon as they are in a cell phone coverage area.
- Memorize each other’s cell phone numbers. You would be surprised how hard it is to find contact during an emergency due to nervousness or fear. Having numbers memorized makes things easier. It is also very important because your cell phone could die, or you could lose your cellphone and the contacts with it.
- Have a survival kit ready when the hurricane warning comes in. This survival kit should ideally contain a cell phone charger, a portable radio, a charger for other batteries, laptops, and tablets. Make sure you also have spare batteries for a flashlight and other gadgets you are holding with you. Your survival kit should also contain common medication for hay fever, flu, cold, asthma, and other common ailments.
What to Do During a Hurricane
Now that you have a solid emergency evacuation plan in hand, you are ready to learn about the things you should do during a hurricane. During a hurricane, there are two possibilities. You can either stay at home in a safe room and wait for the hurricane to go, or you can evacuate your home as instructed by local weather authorities. If a local authority asks you to evacuate an area, do not wait or go against their orders.
Weather authorities will only ask you to evacuate an area if they feel the hurricane will cause damage to property and life.
Whether you decide to stay or evacuate, here are the important things to keep in mind during a hurricane.
- Make sure you have a portable radio, or smartphone capable of letting you listen or see important storm updates, information and instructions. Having constant updates on the storm will help you make a decision about evacuating or staying at home during the hurricane.
- If you do plan to stay in your home, make sure you are staying in a safe room of your home. This room should ideally have very few windows. Even if the room has windows, try to stay as far away from them as possible. The same goes for glass doors and skylights. You could also use a closet, a bathroom, or an interior room for waiting until the storm is gone.
- Never ever try to go outside during a hurricane until it is safe to do so. Always remain in the protection of your home unless an update on the storm allows you to go outside. The eye of the storm is a calm part of the hurricane that can sometimes create an illusion which makes you believe that the storm is gone. But in reality, the high winds are just coming your way in the next few minutes. If you think things have calmed down, turn your radio on and wait for further instructions.
- In case of power outage, you need to make sure to keep your refrigerator door closed for as long as possible to conserve cool air. This will allow you to safeguard food from getting spoilt quickly. Remember, hurricanes can cause a power outage for days and even weeks after they have passed.
- You can always use a power generator to get temporary power at home but you must follow the instructions given to you through the manual of the generator. If you do not follow the instructions of the generator, you could get an electric shock from it which can be devastating and life-threatening.
What to Do After a Hurricane
Just because you survived a hurricane, it doesn’t mean that you are completely safe. You must follow a protocol to ensure that everything is okay after the storm. Here are some important things to keep in mind after a hurricane has passed.
- In the case of evacuation, return to your home only if the authorities advise it is safe to do so.
- Do not come in contact with power lines. Touching a power line after a storm can result in an electric shock. Try to avoid water puddles because they could be exposed to underground wiring.
- When you return home, check all your gas lines to make sure no gas leakage has occurred. Do not use a match or lighter before you confirm there is no gas leakage. Storms are known to damage gas pipes which can cause gas leakages and these leakages can result in devastating explosions if not taken into consideration.
- If the hurricane was powerful, it may have damaged various parts of your home including windows. If you see shattered windows, make sure that you go inside very carefully, There may even be chances of flooding in your home and within that water, hazardous things like sharp objects may be inside. Make sure only the adults go inside first and clear things out for the young ones to come.
- If you’re a homeowner, it is a good idea to get temporary repairs done but do not make permanent repairs until your insurance company has reviewed the damage to your home. In case of temporary important repairs, keep all the receipts to show to the insurance agent to make a claim for damages.
- If you think your home has suffered significant damage, then it is a good idea to discuss this with your insurance company and find a temporary place to stay. Do not under any means, live in a home that has suffered significant damage.
Keeping these things in mind can help you save the life of your family and may even help you prevent damage to your property. Never underestimate a hurricane and follow these instructions at all costs during a hurricane season.