Hurricane Tips

Table of Contents


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers the following important tips to help you minimize your risks during the storm and help to heal when dealing with the aftermath of the storm:

Before a Hurricane - Be Prepared

If you live or work in an area prone to hurricane damage, consider taking the following steps to protect your property in case a hurricane strikes:

  • Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. As an alternate option, board up windows with cut-to-fit marine plywood. Note: Tape is not effective in preventing windows from breaking.
  • To reduce roof damage, secure the roof to the structure frame with straps or additional clips.
  • Trim trees and shrubs around your home or building.
  • Clear out clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Determine where and how to secure boats if a hurricane threatens.
  • Consider building a safe room.

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During a Hurricane - Be Safe

If a hurricane is likely to strike in your area, you should take the following steps:

  • Listen to a radio or television for information.
  • Secure your home by closing storm shutters, securing large outdoor objects and bringing smaller outdoor objects inside.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep the door closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Do not use the telephone except in the case of emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Fill up the bathtub and other large containers with water to make sure you have plenty for cleaning purposes and flushing toilets. You should evacuate under the following conditions:
  • If you are directed to do so by local authorities. Be sure to follow all directions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure. These buildings are particularly vulnerable during a hurricane no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building. Hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river or on an inland waterway.
  • If you feel you are in danger.

If you are unable to evacuate, go to a safe room or follow these guidelines:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors. Secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway in the lowest level of the building.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or other sturdy object.
  • Do not be fooled if there is a lull in the storm. This may be the eye of the storm and winds will likely pick up again.

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After a Hurricane - Be Smart

In case of injuries

  • Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of death or further injury.
  • If you must move an unconscious person, stabilize the neck and back first and then call for help.
  • If a victim is not breathing, carefully position the victim for artificial respiration, clear the airway and commence mouth-to-mouth respiration.
  • Maintain body temperature with blankets, making sure the victim does not become overheated.
  • Never try to feed or provide liquids to an unconscious person.

Health issues

  • Be aware of exhaustion. Don't try to do too much at once. Set priorities, pace yourself and get enough rest.
  • Drink plenty of clean water and eat well.
  • Wear sturdy work boots and gloves.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water often when working in debris.

Safety issues

  • Beware of any new hazards created by the hurricane. These may include washed-out roads, contaminated buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, broken glass, damaged electrical wiring and slippery floors.

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Rebuilding a Home & Life - Be Smart

FEMA offers the following tips to help this often challenging process:

  • Keep a battery-powered radio with you at all times to listen for emergency updates and news reports.
  • Use a battery-powered flash light to inspect your home or facility. Be sure to turn on the flashlight before entering the building. If a flashlight is turned on inside, the battery could produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.
  • Watch out for any live animals or wildlife such as poisonous snakes inside the structure. Use a stick to poke through debris.
  • Use your telephone only to report life-threatening emergencies.
  • Stay off the streets when possible. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects, downed electrical wires, and weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.

Before entering

Carefully inspect the exterior of your home or building for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, do not enter until the building has been inspected by a building inspector or structural engineer. You should not enter your home or building if:

  • You smell gas.
  • Floodwaters remain around the building.
  • The home or building was damaged by fire, and the authorities have deemed it unsafe.

Going inside

When you go inside your home or building, be sure to do so carefully while checking for damage. As you walk through the structure, be aware of loose boards and slippery floors. FEMA recommends that the following items be checked upon entering:

  • Natural gas - If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. If you can, turn off the main gas valve from outside, move away from the property and call the gas company for assistance. Do not smoke or use oil/gas lanterns, candles or torches for light inside a damaged home or building until you are certain there is no leaking gas or other flammable materials present.
  • Sparks, broken or frayed wires - Check your electrical system if it is safe to do so. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Do not come into contact with the electrical system if you are wet, standing in water or are unsure of your safety. If the situation is unsafe, leave the home or building and call for help. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they're safe to use. Consider having an electrical inspection of your wiring before the system is turned back on.
  • Roof, foundation and chimney cracks - If there are significant cracks or the home or building appears that it may collapse, leave immediately.
  • Appliances - If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have a professional check your appliances before using.
  • Water and sewage systems - If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Check with local authorities before using any water that may be contaminated. Pump out wells and test the water before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are intact.
  • Basement - If your basement is flooded, pump it out gradually over a number of days to avoid damage. If a basement is pumped out quickly while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged, the walls may collapse and the floor may buckle.
  • Food and supplies - Throw out all food and associated supplies that have come into contact with floodwater or may be otherwise contaminated.
  • Open cabinets - Watch out for any objects that may fall.
  • Document the damage - Take pictures of your damage and keep good records of all repair and cleaning costs.
  • Call your insurance agent.

Additional resources

For more information about hurricanes in general as well as safety and recovery tips, check out:

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