Hurricane preparation should start long before severe weather is forecast for your area.
Here are a few basic steps you can take now to prepare for hurricanes and tornadoes.
Always have these items on hand during hurricanes or other emergencies:
- Food and Water: Stockpile drinking water and nonperishable food. Choose products that can be eaten without cooking, and rotate food items in your pantry to keep them fresh. Keep a manual can opener on hand and stock up on pet food. When a hurricane is heading your way, line bathtubs with plastic and fill them with water to use for bathing, toilets, etc. (but not for drinking). After a storm passes, eat perishable food first.
- Fuel: Following a natural disaster, the gas grill might be the only method of cooking available, so be sure the propane tank is full and keep a spare on hand. If a hurricane is approaching, don’t wait until the last minute to top off the gas tank in your car — fill several approved gas cans as well. But don’t store gasoline in your home or near an ignition source such as a gas water heater.
- Lighting: It’s always darkest after the storm, so be sure you have several flashlights and plenty of batteries. While propane camping lanterns should not be used indoors, portable lamps that run on batteries are available in incandescent and fluorescent versions. Due to the increased risk of fire, avoid the use of candles. If you must use them, don’t leave candles unattended, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Information: In the aftermath of a natural disaster, a battery-powered weather radio and AM/FM radio are your lifelines to the outside world. Battery-powered television sets can be useful as well.
- Communication: Charge up cell phones and keep a portable charger that works in your car. Also, be sure you have a telephone that does not require electricity to operate.
- Medical Supplies: Fill prescriptions in advance and keep a first aid kit handy. Don’t forget to 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 some smaller bills and coins as well, since change could be hard to come by.
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Be sure to have battery-operated models on hand 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. While a gas-powered chain saw can be your best friend after the storm, it can also result in serious injuries when emergency help might not be able to reach you.
- Generators: Though generators are valuable after a storm, carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal, and there are risks of electrocution and fire. Generators should only be operated in the open and at a safe distance from the home. They should not be used 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. Be sure to turn a generator off and allow it to cool before filling it with gas.