The time is now to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season
Experts are predicting that the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season could be one of the most active on record. This year, Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 3-9, 2020. Today, you can determine your personal hurricane risk, find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone, and review/update insurance policies. You can also make a list of items to replenish hurricane emergency supplies and start thinking about how you will prepare your home for the coming hurricane season. If you live in hurricane-prone areas, you are encouraged to complete these simple preparations before the hurricane season begins on June 1.
Determine your risk
Hurricanes bring many hazards to U.S. coastlines and inland areas, including storm surge along the coast, inland flooding due to heavy rainfall, tornadoes, strong wind, rip currents and large waves. Find out today what types of wind and water hazards could happen where you live, and then start preparing how to handle them. Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Their impacts can be felt hundreds of miles inland, and significant impacts can occur without it being a major hurricane.
NOAA Coastal Services historical hurricane tracks tool
Develop an evacuation plan
The first thing you need to do is find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone. If you do, now is the time to begin planning where you would go and how you would get there. You do not need to travel hundreds of miles but have multiple options. Your destination could be a friend or relative who doesn’t live in an evacuation zone. If you live in a well-built home outside the evacuation zone, your safest place may be to remain home. Be sure to account for your pets in your plan. As hurricane season approaches, listen to local officials on questions related to how you may need to adjust any evacuation plans based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the CDC and your local officials.
Maps of evacuation zones courtesy of Federal Alliance for Safe Homes
Assemble disaster supplies
Make a list of items to replenish your hurricane supplies and begin to assemble them before hurricane season begins. You’re going to need supplies not just to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath. Gas up your vehicle, and have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of three days. Electricity and water could be out for at least that long. You’ll need extra cash, a battery-powered radio and flashlights. You may need a portable crank or solar-powered USB charger for your cell phones. The CDC recommends if you need to go to a public shelter, bring at least two cloth face coverings for each person and, if possible, hand sanitizer. (Children under two years old and people having trouble breathing should not wear face coverings).
FLASH: Assembling A Disaster Kit
Get an insurance checkup
Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to make sure you have enough homeowners insurance to repair or even replace your home. Don’t forget coverage for your car or boat. Remember, standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, you’ll need a separate policy for it, and it’s available through your company, agent or the National Flood Insurance Program at floodsmart.gov. Act now as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period. Know where your insurance documents are located and take them with you if you evacuate.
FLASH Insurance Guide: If Disaster Strikes, Will You Be Covered?
Find available coverage at floodsmart.gov
Strengthen your home
There is a lot you can do around your home to help protect it from hurricane winds. Well ahead of the approaching storm, trim trees on your property, get approved window coverings, collect loose outdoor items, secure all doors on your property, and find a safe location for your vehicle. If you plan to ride out the storm in your home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications. Many retrofits are not as costly or time-consuming as you may think. Have the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors. Remember, the garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand the winds.
Protect Your Home From Flooding Video (English/Spanish)
Help your neighbor
Many people, especially senior citizens, rely on the assistance of neighbors before and after hurricanes. There are also many ways you can help your neighbors before a hurricane approaches. Learn about all the different actions you and your neighbors can take to prepare and recover from the hazards associated with hurricanes. Help your neighbors collect the supplies they’ll need before the storm. Assist them with evacuation if ordered to do so or check on them after it’s safe for you to head outside. Start the conversation now with these Neighbor Helping Neighbor strategies but remember you may need to adjust your preparedness plans based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the CDC and your local officials.
National Hurricane Center Prepare
National Weather Service Hurricane Safety
Complete a written plan
The time to prepare for a hurricane is before the season begins when you have the time and are not under pressure. Writing down your plan will help you avoid mistakes when faced with an emergency and ensure everyone in your home is prepared for the next storm. If you wait until a hurricane is on your doorstep, the odds are that you will be under duress and will make the wrong decisions. Take the time now to write down your hurricane plan. Know who issues evacuation orders for your area, determine locations on where you will ride out the storm, and start to get your supplies now. Have photo documentation of valuables, keep your important documents together for quick access and share your plan. Being prepared before a hurricane threatens makes you resilient to the hurricane impacts of wind and water. It will mean the difference between being a hurricane victim or a hurricane survivor.