Hurricanes are severe tropical storms that form in the southern Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and in the eastern Pacific Ocean. People who live in hurricane-prone communities should know their vulnerability, and what actions should be taken to reduce the effects of these devastating storms. The information on this page can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water.
Step 1: Get a Kit
Get a Disaster Preparedness Kit, which includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car in case you are told to evacuate.
Step 2: Make a Plan
Prepare your family
Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency. You should also consider:
* Cover all of your home’s windows with pre-cut plywood or hurricane shutters to protect your windows from high winds.
* Plan to bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything else that is not tied down.
* Keep all trees and shrubs well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
* Secure your home by closing shutters, and securing outdoor objects or bringing them inside.
* Turn off utilities as instructed. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
* Turn off propane tanks.
* Install a generator for emergencies.
* Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage, it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
* Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
* Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency by visiting www.FoodSafety.gov.
Step 3: Be Informed
Hurricane hazards come in many forms: lightning, tornadoes, flooding, storm surge, high winds, even landslides or mudslides can be triggered in mountainous regions. Look carefully at the safety actions associated with each type of hurricane hazard and prepare your family disaster plan accordingly. But remember this is only a guide. The first and most important thing anyone should do when facing a hurricane threat is to use common sense.
Learn about damaging and potentially deadly hurricane hazards
What to do during a hurricane
Get your children involved (kids site)
People with Disabilities and Other Access and Functional Needs
Care for pets
Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a hurricane.
- A hurricane watch means a hurricane is possible in your area. Be prepared to evacuate. Monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments.
- A hurricane warning is when a hurricane is expected in your area. If local authorities advise you to evacuate, leave immediately.
Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on their wind speed, central pressure, and damage potential. Category Three and higher hurricanes are considered major hurricanes, though Categories One and Two are still extremely dangerous and warrant your full attention.
|Scale Number (Category)||Sustained Winds (MPH)||Damage||Storm Surge|
|1||74-95||Minimal: Unanchored mobile homes, vegetation and signs.||4-5 feet|
|2||96-110||Moderate: All mobile homes, roofs, small crafts, flooding.||6-8 feet|
|3||111-130||Extensive: Small buildings, low-lying roads cut off.||9-12 feet|
|4||131-155||Extreme: Roofs destroyed, trees down, roads cut off, mobile homes destroyed. Beach homes flooded.||13-18 feet|
|5||More than 155||Catastrophic: Most buildings destroyed. Vegetation destroyed. Major roads cut off. Homes flooded.||Greater than 18 fee|