Prepare Before Hurricane Season

Hurricane Preparedness - Prepare Before Hurricane Season. Develop an evacuation plan. Assemble disaster supplies: food, water, batteries, charger, radio, cash. Get an insurance checkup and document your possessions. Create a communication plan with a hand-written list of contacts. Strengthen your home.
(Image credit: NOAA's National Weather Service)

The Atlantic and central Pacific hurricane season (includes Hawaii) officially runs June 1 through November 30. The eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30.

However, the best time to prepare is well before the official start of the season. Avoid having to rush through potentially life-saving preparations by waiting until it’s too late. Get your disaster supplies while the shelves are still stocked, and get that insurance checkup early, as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period.

Develop an evacuation plan
If you are at risk from hurricane impacts, you need an evacuation plan. 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. Your destination could be a friend or relative who lives in a well built home outside flood prone areas. Plan several routes. Be sure to account for your pets.

If you don’t have a vehicle, check with local officials to see what transportation options they may have available.

Assemble disaster supplies
Whether you’re evacuating or sheltering-in-place, you’re going to need supplies not just to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath. Have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of 3 days (store a longer than 3-day supply of water, if possible). Electricity and water could be out for weeks. 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. And lastly, don’t forget your pets!

Get an insurance checkup & document your possessions
Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to make sure you have enough insurance to repair or even replace your home and/or belongings. Remember, home and renters insurance doesn’t cover flooding, so you’ll need a separate policy for it. Flood insurance is 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.

Take the time before hurricane season begins to document your possessions: photos, serial numbers, or anything else that you may need to provide your insurance company when filing a claim.

Create a communication plan
Take the time now to write down your hurricane plan, and share it with your family. Determine family meeting places, and make sure to include an out-of-town location in case of evacuation. Write down on paper a list of emergency contacts, and make sure to include utilities and other critical services — remember, the internet may not be accessible during or after a storm.

Strengthen your home
Now is the time to improve your home’s ability to withstand hurricane impacts. Trim trees. Install storm shutters, accordion shutters, and/or impact glass. Seal outside wall openings. Remember, the garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand hurricane-force winds. Many retrofits are not as costly or time consuming as you may think. If you’re a renter, work with your landlord now to prepare for a storm.

And remember - now is the time to purchase the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to have on hand if you need to board up the windows and doors ahead of an approaching storm.