How to Prepare for a Hurricane

Hurricane between Florida and Cuba
Don’t delay preparing for a hurricane. If you see severe weather activity on a meteorologist’s map, it may be too late. (DepositPhotos)

It’s important to prepare for a hurricane long before severe weather is forecast for your area. Here are some easy steps to prepare for hurricanes and tornadoes.

Basic Preparations

Always have these items on hand during hurricanes or other emergencies:

Stacks of bottled water
Stockpile bottled water before hurricane season — that is, before supply runs out. (Jshanebutt / DepositPhotos)
  • Food and Water: It’s important to stockpile drinking water and nonperishable food. Choose products that you can eat without cooking, and rotate food items in your pantry to keep them fresh. Also, keep a manual can opener on hand and stock up on pet food. When a hurricane heads your way, line bathtubs with plastic and fill them with water to use for bathing and flushing toilets.
  • Fuel: Following a natural disaster, a gas grill might be the only cooking method available. Make sure the propane tank is full, and keep spare propane on hand. Also, if a hurricane is near, don’t wait until the last minute to top off your car’s gas tank — fill several approved gas cans as well. But be safe about it — never store gasoline in your home or near an ignition source such as a gas water heater.
  • Lighting: You’ll need several flashlights and plenty of batteries. Also, portable battery-powered lamps are available in incandescent and fluorescent versions. Due to the increased risk of fire, avoid using candles. If you must use them, don’t leave candles unattended, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Information: After a natural disaster, a battery-powered weather radio and AM/FM radio are your lifelines to the outside world. Battery-powered televisions also are useful during and after hurricanes.
  • Communication: Charge cell phones and keep a portable charger that you can plug into your car. Also, have a telephone that does not require electricity to operate.

    First aid kit
    Medical emergencies can arise during a hurricane, so make sure your first aid kit is up to date. (©showcake – stock.adobe.com)
  • Medical Supplies: Fill prescriptions in advance and keep a first aid kit handy. Stock up on supplies like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disposable diapers.
  • Money: When the power is off after a natural disaster, cash is often the only method of payment. Keep smaller bills and coins on hand, since some stores may not provide change.
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Have battery-operated models that will work when the electricity is out.
  • Tarps and Tape: Stock up on tarps, rolls of plastic, rope, and duct tape to use for emergency repairs after the storm.
  • Tools: Charge cordless tools and make sure you have adequate hand tools to use while the power is out. A gas-powered chain saw comes in handy after the storm, but it can also result in serious injuries when emergency help might not be able to reach you.

    “Today’s Homeowner” host Danny Lipford, pictured with a generator and a gas can
    Portable generators make life easier when you’re riding out a storm, but use them safely.
  • Generators: Though generators are valuable after a storm, carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal. And there are risks of electrocution and fire. Operate generators in the open and at a safe distance from the home. Don’t use them in an enclosed storage building, garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or near open windows or doors. Extension cords should be adequate to handle the load, and don’t try to draw more power than the generator is rated to supply. Finally, turn a generator off and allow it to cool before filling it with gas.

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