National Hurricane Preparedness Week is already here! While it may not seem like top priority right now, it’s time to start thinking about getting ready. Hurricane season runs June 1 to November 30 each year.
For those of us in hurricane-prone areas, the most dangerous thing to do is not prepare. According to the National Hurricane Center, the two key factors contributing to weather safety during hurricanes are preparing in advance for the risks and to act on those preparations when alerted by emergency officials.
Top 5 Tips for Hurricane Preparedness
1. Know Where To Go
Creating an evacuation plan is essential for storm preparation. Evacuations are called when a storm surge occurs, causing the water level to rise abnormally high. It is important to know the local evacuation routes and to have arrangements for a place to stay during the evacuation. Be sure to plan for your pets, as most shelters do not allow them. By law, shelters do accept service animals. If you are unsure of where to go, or what your route is, contact your local emergency management agency. Check with your local city or county commissioner website for your evacuation route.
2. Create a Family Communication Plan and/or Business Continuity Plan
Family Communication Plan
Create your plan now with your family. Know what you’ll do whether you stay or evacuate, and always have a few options in mind should you be forced to evacuate. Make sure everyone knows the evacuation routes, and that you have a supply kit on hand for everyone. Check out the FEMA Family Communication Plan!
Business Continuity Plan
We’ve seen many businesses unprepared for hurricanes, even those headquartered in states such as Florida. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), if a business doesn’t have a Business Continuity Plan in place, 40% of small businesses won’t reopen after a storm event, 25% of businesses will close within one year, and 75% of businesses without a Continuity Plan will fail. Don’t be a statistic! It is important to have a Business Continuity Plan for your company and even more important that everyone understands it and you have strategies in place in the event of a storm. A Business Continuity Plan includes employee communication protocols, data, computer network, server, IT, infrastructure, and backup support should your business be affected by a hurricane, storm surge, damaging winds, flood and/or power outage. If you don’t have one yet, delegate a team to create your Business Continuity Plan, communicate it with your employees, and ensure that your business operations can continue and everyone stays safe and informed in the event of a storm. Maintaining business continuity is important. For more information, check out FEMA’s Ready Business Hurricane Toolkit.
3. Put Together a Supply Kit
Having the right supplies is crucial when a storm is coming. Cash, flashlights, batteries, first-aid kits, area maps, food, water, cleaning supplies, gas, battery or solar powered radio are key to have on hand. Also make sure to keep any medications and copies of your critical information on hand in the event of an evacuation. Don’t forget supplies for your pets! Experts recommend having at least 3 days worth of food, water and supplies on hand. If you have a generator, do a maintenance check to make sure it’s working properly. Check out Ready.gov Tips on Building a Hurricane Supply Kit and FEMA’s Emergency Supply List.
4. Protect Your Home and/or Business
There are several measures you can take to ensure your home and/or business will be as protected as possible during a storm. It’s important to inspect your property and confirm there is no existing damage that a hurricane will increase. If you have any structural issues, loose shingles or damaged roofs, they should be fixed as soon as possible. If there are trees near your property, trimming the branches can help prevent damage in the event of strong winds. Additionally, cleaning and securing your rain gutters, reinforcing windows and doors are all proactive measures to help prevent additional damage. If you have hurricane shutters, know where they are and how to install them. If you plan on using plywood to cover your windows, purchase your supplies now.
5. Check Your Insurance Policy
All property owners should be aware of their insurance policies. If you have questions on your policy, contact your insurance provider to learn more and review the details. When living in a hurricane-prone area, it is important to include flood insurance on your policy. Flood insurance is critical for those not living on the coast as well. Visit www.floodsmart.gov to learn about your flood risk and flood insurance options for your area. Make sure you have copies of all important documents stored in your Supply Kit and to be safe, also store it in a secondary location not prone to hurricane damage (i.e. cloud storage, email a family member in another state, etc.) You need to have access to proof of ownership documents for all property including homes, businesses, cars, and boats.
You can never be too prepared for storm season. By following these tips, you will be on the right track to staying safe during any hurricane!
Hurricane Preparedness Resources
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- FEMA App
- FEMA Business Hurricane Toolkit
- FEMA Emergency Supply List
- FEMA National Flood Insurance Program
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Evacuation Zone Finder
- National Weather Service
- National Weather Service Definitions: Watches, Warnings, Advisories and Outlooks
- National Weather Service Hurricane Tips
- Gov Phone Alerts
- Ready.Gov Hurricane Supply Kit List