How to Stay Safe During A Hurricane. The vast majority of people living in "hurricane alley" will stay safe during a hurricane. Hurricanes can be killer storms, and you need to know what to do to stay safe. We now have plenty of notice when a hurricane is headed our way. It's up to us to make an informed decision of just what to do.
If You Plan to Evacuate
Evacuate early! Evacuations may be ordered by state or local officials, or you may live in an evacuation zone. Find out if you live in an evacuation zone by calling your county emergency management office. Most injuries and deaths occur in zones that have been ordered to be evacuated, but people choose to stay. Listen to your local news for up to the minute information. If you choose not to evacuate, remember that police and rescue cannot reach you until the storm is over.
Decide where you will go. A local shelter should be your last option. They are crowded, hot and not at all private. You must bring your own supplies. It is especially difficult for young children or elderly people in a designated shelter. If you are ill or have special needs, you must make arrangements with your county to be transported to the special needs shelter. Pets are not accepted at most shelters, so they also must go to a designated pet shelter. It is much easier staying with a friend, relative or staying in a motel.
Assemble an emergency evacuation kit. Include important documents and photos, a list of phone numbers, emergency contacts and medical information. Don't forget insurance policies and photos of your home and contents. Pack clothes, food, water, medications, toiletries, infant and children needs, pet needs and anything that fits in your car that you cannot bear to lose. Don't forget maps, tools for your car, cell phone and a first aid kit. Pack for at least a week stay for everyone
Fill your vehicle with gas well ahead of leaving. Gas stations are likely to have long lines and may even be out of gas at the last minute.
Get cash well ahead of time. ATM's will not work when the power goes out and most stores cannot accept credit or debit cards if the power is out. Most transactions will require cash.
If You Plan to Stay at Home
Stock up on hurricane supplies. Have a minimum of a seven-day supply. Buy non-perishable foods and food in pouches. Include proteins, fruits and vegetables. Buy foods that do not require extra cooking and can be eaten cold if necessary. Stock up on water, at least one gallon per person per day. Remember to add the all-important manual can opener, cooking utensils and pots and pans. Don't forget aluminum foil, paper towels, garbage bags and disposable cleaning wipes. Buy a lot of batteries for flashlights and radios. Make up a good first aid kit and stock up on cleaning supplies, especially bleach, gloves and heavy-duty garbage bags.
Find a "safe room" in your home, which is in the center of your home and away from windows. A large closet or even the bathroom can be your designated safe room. This is where you will shelter while the hurricane is making landfall and will stay there until the storm has passed. Do not come out until all danger has passed. Stock your safe room with a battery operated radio so you can listen to the local news and hear police reports. Also stock flashlights, pillows or a small mattress, some snacks and water and first aid kit. It's a good idea to bring your important documents in a watertight bag. Don't forget to include your pets in your safe room plans.
Prepare your home with hurricane shutters or plywood, trim dead branches and clean up any yard debris. Move yard ornaments or tools that can become flying missiles. Move your vehicles to a sheltered place or garage.
Plan for power outages and stock up on extra water to freeze. Use this water as ice until it melts and it can then be used as drinking water. Fill your tub and outdoor garbage cans with extra water. Fill as many jugs of water as possible, because you can never have too much.
Notify friends and relatives of your plans and make arrangements to call them if possible after the storm has passed. Ask them to be patient as phones are likely to be disrupted; arrange to call a few days after the hurricane has passed. Try to call as soon as possible to reassure friends and family of your safety.