Create a Hurricane Evacuation Plan
In the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, the need to evacuate is decided by local, state and federal government officials and authorities. However, you may want to consider evacuating ahead of time under certain conditions.
However, although an evacuation declaration may not have been made, you may want to consider evacuating if you:
Live in a mobile home.
Live on the coastline, an offshore island, or near a river or a flood plain.
Live in a high-rise. Hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
Are a person with special needs, [WHN page link TK] including health or mobility related concerns
See General Family Preparedness from the University of Idaho for more evacuation tips.
Evacuation Precautions for Hurricanes
Print out and fill in your WHN Contact List. [WHN page link TK] Print copies of the Emergency Contact List and keep them by your phones for easy access.
Plan in advance where to go if you are asked to evacuate your home. Consider more than one option such as a relative's home, a hotel, or a shelter.
Keep your car's gas tank full if you may need to evacuate. During emergencies, filling stations may be closed.
Know where emergency shelters are located. Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross for information on designated public shelters.
Always have extra cash on hand (at least $100 or so) because ATMs and credit card machines won't work if there is no electricity. Do this even if you aren't planning to evacuate.
Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance.
WHN Tip: Get Ready Hurricane
Be sure your Home Disaster Preparedness Kit is ready. See Prepare Your Home for a Natural Disaster
Hurricane Preparations for Staying Home
If you are not evacuating, these suggestions will help you through staying at home during a storm.
Have a "safe place" in your home where family members can gather during a hurricane.
The location should have no windows, skylights or glass doors, which could be broken by strong winds or hail, causing damage or injury; and be out of the path of flood waters (not the basement!). In a two-story house, go to an interior first-floor room, such as a bathroom or closet, or a hallway.
Draw a floor plan of your residence. Mark two escape routes from each room, in case of flooding. If your home has more than one story, make sure there is a way to safely exit the upper floors.
Place a copy in each room in an obvious location — near the door, on a bulletin board, etc. — and tell each family member about the escape route plan. (Let your kids decide where to hang the escape plan in their rooms but make sure to make it's visible.).
Designate a place for family to meet outside the neighborhood. Make sure all family members know the address and phone number.
WHN Tip: Remind your kids to stay in that spot until they are told by firefighters or police that it is OK to move.
Involve the kids. Have them color in their escape routes (remember they have to have two exits to color in).
Rehearse the Plan
Practice your escape plan every month Make sure windows and doors aren't stuck and that screens can be removed.
WHN Tip: Practice using all exits from every room and time yourself to see how long it takes. Practice at night to see how long family members take to wake up.
WHN Tip: You should also practice blindfolded. This mimics the darkness of smoke, which makes it very difficult to see anything as you try to get out.
Think Beyond Your Home
Know the emergency response plan for your workplace, your children's school or day-care center, as well as other places where your family spends time.
Also, meet with neighbors either informally or through a neighborhood group to create a neighborhood preparedness plan. Learn what neighbors or relatives may require extra assistance.
WHN Tip: Add a NOAA Weather Radio to your home and car emergency kits. If there is a severe warning in your area, a NOAA Weather Radio automatically turns on and alerts you with beeps and sirens. It even alerts you if the power is out (the radios have battery back-up).
Look for NOAA radios with "SAME" feature (Specific Area Message Encoding) which means the receiver is capable of turning itself on from a silent mode.
Consider stockpiling emergency building materials such as plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, nails, hammer and saw, pry bar, shovels, and sandbags.
Prepare a readily available and fully stocked Home Disaster Preparedness Kit.
WHN Tip: Disaster Kit Drill
Pick a night when everyone is home. Turn off the TV and lights, don't use the faucets, fridge or the stove. Check and see what items are missing (special needs for family members, can opener, etc.). Make a list and add these items to your kit.
Buy extra fire extinguishers and teach each family member how to use them. Store them in a central place.
Adult family members should know how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main valves or switches.
Consider enrolling yourself and/or family members in first aid and emergency preparedness courses. Responsible family members should also know CPR, how to help someone who is choking and first aid for severe bleeding and shock. The Red Cross offers basic training of this nature.
WHN Tip: In Case of Emergency (ICE)
In the event of an emergency or after an accident, emergency personnel use your cell phone to look for "ICE": who to contact In Case of an Emergency. Here's how to do it. [WHN page link TK]
Prepare a Home Inventory
Create a Home Inventory List - videotape, photograph or compile a written inventory of your home and belongings. This will make it easier to file an insurance claim. Keep the inventory off-premises in a safety deposit box or with an out-of-the area contact. The inventory will provide a record for you and the insurance company.
WHN Tip: Update your inventory every two to three years, with every major purchase, or if significant home or property renovations are made.
Prepare a Home Grab-and-Go Kit with cash, copies of important documents and records, photos and contact information.
Before you begin, contact your local building official so you know what codes are required. They can provide assistance so you make improvements properly the first time.
Further Home Protection Advice
FEMA's Avoiding Hurricane Damage: A Checklist for Homeowners
This 4-page pdf file offers a checklist you can do to see if your home is in need of hurricane safety improvements. FEMA prepares the nation for hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.
Institute for Business & Home Safety: Protect Your Property From Hurricanes
The IBHS features four articles on protecting your home, keeping wind and water out, a home checklist and rebuilding after a hurricane. The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is a nonprofit association that engages in communication, education, engineering and research.
American Red Cross: Hurricane Safety Checklist
The American Red Cross, a humanitarian organization led by volunteers, provides relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.
Thank you ...
A special thank you to the first responders, emergency workers, government officials, lawyers, insurance agents and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.
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