Hurricane Preparedness Guide

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.

Download the Hurricane Preparedness Guide

    Hurricane Hazards

    • Hurricane Winds
    • Rainfall and Flooding
    • Storm Surge
    • Tornadoes
    • Hazard Forecast Updates

    One of the most dramatic, damaging, and potentially deadly events that occur in this country is a hurricane.

    Hurricanes are products of the tropical ocean and atmosphere. Powered by heat from the sea, they are steered erratically by the easterly trade winds and the temperate westerly winds, as well as by their own energy. As they move ashore, they bring with them a storm surge of ocean water along the coastline, high winds, tornadoes, torrential rains, and flooding.

    Each year on average, ten tropical storms develop over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, or Gulf of Mexico. About six of these typically strengthen enough to become hurricanes. Many of these remain over the ocean with little or no impact on the continental United States. However, about five hurricanes strike the United States coastline every three years. Of these five, two will be major hurricanes measuring a category 3 or higher (defined as having winds above 111 miles per hour) on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. These storms can end up costing our nation millions, if not billions, of dollars in damages.

    During a hurricane, homes, businesses, public buildings, and infrastructure may be damaged or destroyed by many different storm hazards. Debris can break windows and doors, allowing high winds and rain inside the home. In extreme storms (such as Hurricanes Hugo, Andrew and Katrina), the force of the wind alone can cause tremendous devastation, as trees and power lines topple and weak elements of homes and buildings fail. Roads and bridges can be washed away and homes saturated by flooding. Destructive tornadoes can also be present well away from the storms center during landfall. Yet, storm surge alone poses the highest threat to life and destruction in many coastal areas throughout the United States and territories. And these threats are not limited to the coastline -- they can extend hundreds of miles inland,

    Before a Hurricane

    To prepare for a hurricane, you should take the following measures:

    • Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
    • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
    • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
    • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
    • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
    • Consider building a safe room.

    During a Hurricane

    If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

    • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
    • Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
    • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
    • Turn off propane tanks.· Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
    • Moor your boat if time permits.
    • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.

    You should evacuate under the following conditions:

    • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
    • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes 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 your safe room. If you do not have one, 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. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.
    • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
    • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

    All information above is from FEMA's website under disaster and emergency preparedness.

    For more information and resources on Hurricane Preparedness, please visit the web sites below.

    US Department of Homeland Security - FEMA

    FEMA “Are you Ready?” Online Publication – An in-depth 204-page guide to emergency preparedness.

    English Version

    US National Weather Service - NOAA

    US National Hurricane Center - Storm Watch

    NOAA Hurricane Preparedness

    American Red Cross

    American Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness

    American Red Cross Preparedness Checklists

    Ready Gov

    Ready Gov - Hurricane Preparedness

    CDC - Center For Disease Control and Prevention

    CDC - Hurricane Preparedness

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