Hurricanes are extremely destructive natural disasters. They can leave thousands and thousands of people injured, missing, or dead, damage several billions’ worth of properties and infrastructures, and wipe out entire villages and towns.
If you live in a hurricane-prone area, it is important that you are familiar with what precautionary measures to take to keep your family safe and minimize damage to your belongings, and start doing some preparations even before the threat looms.
Days before a hurricane is forecast to make landfall, you and your family should do the following necessary preparations for your safety:
Create an evacuation plan.
If your home is near the coast, or if you live in a small mobile or trailer home, you should evacuate. You should not stay there during a hurricane, as there is a very high risk of flooding and strong winds that can ruin your house and leave you stuck in the middle of danger for hours or even days.
Before the hurricane strikes, get in touch with your local government to find out where you can evacuate. There should be evacuation shelters in your area where you can take your family, pets, and important belongings safe and dry. Research what routes you can take to get there safely and fast. Do not forget to also bring valid identification, such as passports, driver’s license, and school IDs.
Stock up on non-perishable supplies.
Do not wait until the government issues a final hurricane warning before you head to the supermarket to buy food and other emergency supplies. If you can, avoid the rush and do your shopping in advance. Make sure to get the following items:
- Three days’ worth of canned goods, protein bars, and other foods that do not require refrigerating, heating, or cooking for each person
- Three days’ worth of bottled water for each person
- First aid kit
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Candles, lamps, matches, and fuel
- Tools, such as hammer, wrenches, nails, and plywood, for emergency repairs at home
Also, you should look into getting satellite phones. In case you and your family get separated during evacuation, you want an easy and effective way of getting in touch with one another, and satellite phones should be able to help you with that.
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Reinforce your home.
The strong hurricane winds can shatter your glass windows and cause trees and power lines around you to fall, and the heavy rainfall and floods can seep through the smallest cracks in your ceilings, walls, and doors. Thus, it is vital to that you make your house as stable as possible before the disaster to boost safety and security once the hurricane comes.
To protect your property, you should take precautionary steps days before to minimize the damage.
- Put up storm shutters. Having storm shutters installed can protect your windows from breaking due to the strong force of winds and rain.
- Hurricane-proof all of your exterior doors. They should be reinforced with at least a one-inch long dead bolt lock and three hinges to protect against the powerful storm.
- Get your outdoor garbage bins out of the way. Do not leave your outdoor garbage bins outside during the hurricane as the high winds can blow them away, hurt people, and cause more damage. Keep them inside the garage or a shed. This also applies to potted plants, patio furniture, and other things that you do not want to be flying around and get broken.
- Cut off tree branches that look unstable and weak, and might fall during the hurricane. This can prevent them from falling on your house and cause damage to your roof.
Have some cash ready.
You should withdraw cash before the hurricane so that you can use it to buy food, water, gas, and other items when your supplies run out after the disaster. In some cases, power goes out during hurricanes and takes days to get fixed. With no electricity, you cannot pay for your purchases using your credit cards or withdraw money at ATMs.
Fill up your car.
Even though you are located in an area that does not need to be evacuated or is not considered highly dangerous during hurricanes, it is best to still have a full tank of gas. You never know what can happen during these natural disasters. If an emergency evacuation is suddenly announced, with your fully fueled car, you can quickly pack your supplies and gather your family and drive to the nearest shelter.
Keep your pets protected.
If you have pets at home, you should make sure that they are indoors before, during, and after the hurricane with you. Have enough food and water for them stocked with all of your other supplies. Attach some form of identification on them, like a pet tag or collar with your contact details, in case they get separated from you. You should also have them microchipped for other people to be able to easily track you down.
Take a look at your insurance policies.
A standard homeowners insurance typically covers your entire home in case of natural disasters, such as hurricanes. Before the hurricane, you should take an inventory of your property to estimate if the cost of repair or rebuilding your home after the hurricane is within the limit of your insurance policy. In addition to that, you should consider getting flood insurance, especially if you are located in coastal areas, as a lot of standard homeowners policies do not cover damage caused by flooding.
It is best that you contact your insurance company to get a better understanding of your current coverage and get recommendations on how you can augment your existing coverage to more effectively help you out with your losses after the disaster.