With multiple high category hurricanes coming from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, different areas of the United States expect heavy rains, strong winds, and flooding.
Apart from these, locals must consider other hazards that could come along with this calamity.
Hurricane Harvey extended up to Texas – making it the first category 3 hurricane to reach that part of the country in twelve years. More are expected.
Given all the known danger, everyone must prep days or weeks before the hurricane hits. After stocking up with some goods and preparing the tools, you need to plan ahead to ensure the safety of your family.
We gathered some useful advice and tips to help you and your family overcome the possible damage of a strong typhoon.
Before anything else, keeping yourself aware will help you prepare for what’s about to come. Follow social media pages with reliable feeds about the weather forecast. Watch the news to know more about the hurricane.
Gather info about its strength, the direction it will take, the areas most likely to be affected, and the type of warning from the National Weather Service.
Hearing about the issued warnings by NWS won’t serve any purpose if you don’t know what they mean. Different warnings suggest a different level of preparation.
The National Weather Service issues an advisory when they see a storm causing a hazardous disturbance (not life-threatening). Every household must check the weather updates from time to time for further announcements.
Whenever NWS issues a watch, a possible hurricane may hit the area within 48 hours. You will need to turn on your NOAA weather radio and check different news sources for more updates. Recharge your mobile phones and double-check your supplies. Ready your bug-out bags (BOB) if you need to need to evacuate.
The NWS raises a warning if a hurricane will wreak havoc within the next 36 hours. Continue to listen for updates, ready your supplies, and ask your family to prepare for an evacuation.
The National Hurricane Center uses to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to determine the category of the storm. This scale will provide a one to five category rating based on the hurricane’s sustained wind strength or speed. It estimates the possible damage to properties.
Category 1 will bring sustained winds within the range of 74-95 mph. Although it carries the weakest winds among five categories, it can affect well-constructed homes by damaging its roof, gutter, shingles, and vinyl siding. Its dangerous winds may potentially damage power lines and poles, causing power outages to households in the affected areas.
Category 2 bears extremely strong winds with a maximum speed of 110 mph. This hurricane category is enough to cause major damages to well-built houses. It may pull out the roots of shallowly planted trees, potentially blocking several roads. Due to its strength and impact to power lines and poles, power outages may last for several days up to a week.
Category 3 is considered as a major hurricane with sustained winds reaching up to 129 mph. It may cause the removal of roof decking and other major damages on a well-constructed house. Its strength can snap and uproot trees, blocking numerous roads. Water and electricity providers may fail to operate and immediately repair damaged lines due to the impact.
Category 4 brings immensely strong winds of max 156 mph that can cause catastrophic damage. Well-built homes will receive huge beating as it affects not just the roof but the windows, doors, and exterior walls as well. Most trees will fall and isolate many residential units. People may need to leave the area before the storm hits as affected communities will be uninhabitable for several weeks or a month.
Category 5 carries torrential rain and winds of 157 mph or higher that can cause catastrophic damage. Due to the immense speed, the winds will destroy many well-built homes causing total roof failure, shattered windows, and wall collapse. The catastrophe will totally ruin the community’s surroundings and isolate it from neighboring places. A power outage can last for several months and most of the area won’t be livable for months.
Whether you live in a hurricane prone area or not, preppers should not downplay the potential damage a hurricane or storm can cause. Also, due to climate changes, typhoons become stronger and more damaging each year. As hurricanes may soon reach other areas of the United States that don’t experience hurricanes for many years, it’s much safer for everyone to prepare before the hurricane season starts.
Some homeowners consider selling their homes in flood-prone areas and buy a property located in an elevated site. If this is not possible for you, proceed to collect more necessary information about the community.
Usually, families living near bodies of water evacuates first to avoid landslides and flash floods. Identify the nearest evacuation centers; or at least, locate the high-ground neighborhood to know where to go if there’s a flood.
A basic step every prepper must know. Severe storm and flooding may cut your access to fresh food and clean water for a few days. Also, supermarkets don’t open their stores during catastrophic storms for the safety of their employees.
According to the CDC, stock your home with at least three to five days worth of food and water. Some food items can go bad over time so make sure you got plenty of non-perishable items such as canned goods, emergency food buckets, instant noodles, and more. Replace the consumed goods after the storm.
Apart from food and water, you will need some tools that can come handy in many situations. The list below includes the items you need to gather as per the recommendation of CDC.
- Emergency flares
- Tactical flashlights
- First Aid Kit
- Jumper Cables
- Battery Operated Radio
- Mobile phone
Authorities may force you to evacuate your home, thus you must purchase an extra of each item above and keep them inside your car’s compartment.
Catastrophic winds can totally remove the roof and bring down the walls of your home. Apply for insurance if you can afford one. Read all the conditions in the contract and make sure to adhere to it.
Don’t forget to take pictures of your home before and after the hurricane. Store them in a cool and waterproof place. Secure a soft copy of this image in a waterproof portable flash drive, in an online drive, or in your phone.
A power outage may occur when a strong hurricane strikes. Purchase a power generator that can support the basic appliances such as lights, communication devices, and water filter systems.
This serves as a wise investment move since you can use it in other occasions such as scheduled power maintenance, shortage, and a broken tower.
Banks may stay offline when an intense hurricane hits the country, so withdraw enough cash that will last for a few days up to a month. Consider the strength of the hurricane and its possible damage – it can greatly impact banking operations and other businesses.
In case you need to leave your home, fill the tank of your car a few days before the hurricane. You can also buy extra containers of gas – petroleum stations may be out of supply days or weeks after the calamity.
Remove hazardous materials in your garage and your lawn, such as debris, logs, pieces of woods, and branches; these materials can cause damage and injury when the storm hits (e.g. the wind can blow these garbage around and break your window).
Secure all your windows and doors by covering them with sturdy wood. Patch them up but make sure you reserve a way out in case you need to evacuate.
If the authorities asked your family to evacuate, comply quickly. High category hurricanes can destroy homes, kill thousands, and turn the community into a lifeless region. In the past, many people died because they refused to leave their homes before a catastrophic hurricane.
If you decide to stay, you also place your family at risk. In addition, you endanger the lives of rescuers.
Even if the authorities did not announce a forced evacuation, continue waiting for further updates. If you carry doubts about your safety in your location, do not wait for the authorities to call. You and your family can always evacuate to the nearest sanctuary or community center.
Always ready your car, bug-out bags, and other supplies in case the storm changes its route or becomes stronger as it approaches. Move fast but always take extra care when fleeing the area.
Families in safer areas may not need to evacuate. Although their house can resist strong typhoons but it sits at an elevated location, they still need to take necessary measures to keep themselves safe.
The hurricane’s strength, range, and speed may vary. Thus, when the weather forecast declares a warning in a specific area, consider the worst case scenario.
If you did not need to evacuate in the previous storms, don’t disregard the possibility that the next storm can cause great damage to your home. Ready your battery-operated radio to stay connected to news and updates.
Water services may fail during a storm. Sometimes, the outages last a few days after the storm has passed. Fill your bathtubs, buckets, and containers with water. Use plastic utensils and other household materials that don’t need washing to extend the water supply for more than a week.
When power outage occurs, you lose access to many useful tools. Before the storm messes with the power supply, charge all your devices: phones, rechargeable lamp, battery-operated radio, portable TV, power banks, and others.
Turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting. When electricity fails, the goods and produce you stored may go bad. Keeping the fridge cold will extend its shelf life. Just remember to first consume foods that will spoil quickly.
The eye of the storm brings in sudden fair weather – after a series of strong winds (brought by its body and tail). When it arrives, people may get the impression that the hurricane has already left. However, that’s not how hurricanes come and go.
When the eye of storm sets in, do not go out. Continue to listen to weather updates and educate everyone in the household about the center of the storm. After a short while, the strong winds will resume and anyone who got out will be in grave danger.
Watch out for your family and don’t let anyone go outside the house while the storm approaches. During a storm, debris, branches, and other materials may cause harm to anyone who goes outdoors. Do not go outside, unless you need to evacuate.
Turn off the gas or propane tanks. The storm may damage the gas line which can cause an explosion. Community firetrucks will be sent for rescue operations and may not arrive as quickly as possible due to floods and fallen trees blocking the main roads.
Stay away from doors and windows during the storm. Projectiles may fly and break in, especially if you did not board them up. As much as possible, avoid injuries because it’s difficult to find medical attention in the middle of a storm. Always have the first aid kit ready in case of an injury.
Power outages can add to up the danger during a hurricane. This hazard can extend even after the storm. If you live in an area affected by a huge power failure, know the steps you need to take to keep you and your family safe.
Reporting the outage to authorities is the first step. Their electricians will restore the power immediately, if possible. But if not, they will wait until the storm clears.
The following events can greatly impact the speed of power restoration:
- Storm surge
- Fallen structures
- Damage received by power plants
People should exercise caution to avoid accidents indirectly caused by the storm. The list below includes tips during a power outage.
- Don’t go near downed power lines. Watch out for power cords, fallen electric utility poles, and possible live wires hidden by floodwaters. Stay indoors unless you need to evacuate.
- Use flashlights instead of candles for lesser chance of household fires.
- Turn off electric appliances and unplug them from the socket. This prevents power surge upon restoration of electricity.
- Keep the generator in the safest place. Before the typhoon, build a safe house for the generator – it should be placed at least thirty feet away from home. Learn how to safely use a generator in case of a power outage.
- Do not frequently open the refrigerator. Bring out the water and other things you may need regularly. As much as possible, avoid opening the fridge doors to preserve its cold temperature and thus prevent spoilage.
In some cases, travelers find themselves stranded due to a storm. What should they do if they get locked in a destination where a storm is wreaking havoc or has already made its landfall?
Always check for news updates before you leave for a trip. But if you get the feeds at a later time, then act quickly and leave. Evacuate coastal areas and other spots prone to flooding.
If you arrived in the destination through airways, contact the airline company to reserve a seat for the next available flight. If no seats are available until the next day, consider purchasing a one-way ticket back home from other airlines. Failing to leave immediately increases your chances of getting stuck in the area.
Before leaving the hotel, ask the management to reserve the room for some time in case you couldn’t leave the town or city. Airport shelters are not always comfortable. If your hotel sits near the beach, try to find other accommodations inland.
Airlines usually cancel flights as soon as authorities raise a warning. If you can’t leave the area, contact your friends, family, and employer to let them know about your location. Also, inform them whether you’ll make use of hotel accommodation or if you’ll let the night pass in an airline shelter.
Keep your phone charged and bring power banks along. Packing your travel bags (so you can easily leave an area with your things) in case of an emergency is an important habit during traveling.
Lastly, waiting for the storm will make you feel tired and anxious. If you can’t sleep and you don’t want to spend precious battery life, bring books, card games, and board games to kill some time.
If you planned a trip to a destination that will be affected by the storm, coordinate with the airline company and your hotel. Ask about their re-booking and cancellation policies. If the hotel (wherein you made a reservation previously) gets damaged and needs to cancel all reservations, work with your airline to determine alternative destinations. Most companies allow passengers to rebook without paying extra fees.
Some hotels sit at hurricane prone zones. These companies usually offer refunds and re-booking whenever a storm is predicted to hit. Re-scheduling of booking can go as far as months or years.
A hotels is not a fun place to get stuck in during a hurricane. The fact that you are not in your own home with your family makes it even more chaotic. When you first hear a storm about to hit the area, ready yourself and watch out for any weather updates and announcements.
- Keep the radio or TV on for important updates about the storm’s direction and speed. You can also check for online feeds in your mobile. While keeping yourself aware of what’s about to arrive, inform your relatives about your condition.
- Know more about your hotel. Identify exit routes and ask the staff of what you should do in the worst-case scenario. Many hotels post a list of to-dos in the lobby.
- Gas up your rental car and get a map of the city. Locate the accessible routes that will remain open and safe when you need to evacuate.
- Withdraw cash. People swarm ATM machines and banks before the hurricane hits so make sure you get to arrive there first.
- Purchase enough goods in case you need to evacuate. Only buy no-cook and easy-to-open foods. Don’t forget bottled water and medicine.
- Check for safer hotels inland and make a reservation. Ask the authorities and the staff – or wait for updates regarding evacuation shelters in the area.
- Continue monitoring the TV and radio broadcasts for further announcements. Ask the hotel staff if you will need to evacuate soon. Low-rise hotels may need to transfer their guests somewhere safer.
- Pack your important belongings and prepare to leave some clothes if there are too many. Make sure that when you need evacuate, you can move easily and quickly. Use separate bags for your important items such as cash, wallet, emergency items, passport, documents, tactical flashlight, chargers, devices, and more.
- If the hotel will provide an evacuation plan and shuttle, follow the instructions of the safety officer.
- If you need to leave the hotel on your own, move quickly. Take your belongings and get to the rental car.
- Head to the announced evacuation center. Understand that traffic will become heavy and slow. Stay calm to avoid accidents.
An office building may serve as a safe place during a hurricane. However, not all employees would prefer getting stuck in a safe and warm building while their families face the ravaging storm at home.
After authorities announced the hurricane category, decide whether you will go to work or not. Generally, it’s better to stay with your family to protect them during a storm or to lead the evacuation. Inform your employer about your decision.
If you happened to be at work when the storm strikes, figure out whether you can still safely go home or not. Local authorities usually block flood-prone areas to avoid accidents.
- If the road to your way home remains passable, inform your manager that you need to leave. Stay calm and drive safely home. Watch out for flying projectiles, falling debris, and trees blocking the road. If you did not stock up, quickly stop by the nearest convenience store and buy all the necessary supplies.
- Keep the car radio on to keep yourself updated while on the road. Also, use a traffic guide app such as Waze to avoid traffic jams and to determine the most convenient route.
- If all the roads are blocked and you can’t get home by foot or by other means, stay in the office. Call your family immediately and check on their status. Ask your wife or your eldest son or daughter to take care of the younger siblings. Moreover, instruct them to watch the weather news and wait for further updates.
- If authorities raised a hurricane warning in the area, ask your family to evacuate to the nearest shelter. They should also keep their communication lines open. Tell them to keep their phones fully charged. If the network fails, ask them to contact you as soon as possible if it goes back up.
- You may also coordinate with the local community heads to ensure the safety of your family. As soon as the storm has passed, prepare to go home by foot since it will is likely that trees have blocked most roads after a storm. Stay calm and alert while finding your way home.
Most high-rise buildings can resist strong hurricane winds. However, employers must still do their best to ensure the safety of their employees. Similarly, employees should also take some precautions to keep everyone safe.
- Stay inside. Do not insist on getting out of the office. Companies will provide temporary shelter, food, water, and utilities to their employees during a calamity. If you are outside but only a few steps away, go back to the office.
- Call your family and inform them that you can’t go home. If your home also lies in the path of the storm, instruct them to prepare their bug out bags in case they needed to evacuate.
- Stay away from windows. Although most establishments use reinforced windows, it may not work against huge projectiles.
- Follow the safety and emergency protocols of the company. Security personnel and safety engineers will provide updates and instructions regarding the typhoon.
- Stay alert and vigilant. Report anything hazardous such as open windows, wall cracks, and leaks to the facilities management. You can also ask the security guards or your manager to report the matter.
Dangers do not end after the hurricane has left the area. Everyone should still watch out for possible hazards such as flooding, falling trees, and live electrical wires scattered in the community.
If you evacuated to a shelter, follow the rules. Also, it may take some time before you can go back to your home. Even if the storm left the town or state, authorities will still need to make sure that it’s safe to get out of the shelter.
Volunteers, firemen, and other local government units need some time to clear the roads from fallen trees, fallen lamp posts, live electrical wires, and other dangerous materials scattered around the community.
If you purchased insurance, this is the perfect time to fulfill the conditions in the contract. Gather evidence such as before and after photos. Document everything and file for an insurance claim.
Storm surges can damage pipelines which can lead to water contamination. Before drinking your tap water, run a quick water test to determine whether it is safe to drink. You may also drink sodas or bottled water while your community’s water service provider is fixing their pipes and conducting some tests.
Avoid traveling while your home and the rest of the community is in a bad shape. Neighboring towns and states you plan to visit may also be dealing with this problem. Also, your house needs to be guarded since abandoned residential homes and establishments attract thieves and looters.