Hurricane season begins on June 1st of each year and ends at the end of November. The National Hurricane Center may make predictions as to the number of hurricanes they anticipate during a season, but when, where and how many hurricanes will make landfall are things that can’t be predicted until the storms have formed in the ocean. Fortunately, they form slowly enough to give people ample opportunity to prepare their homes for a hurricane.
*Preparing the physical structure
People who live in hurricane prone areas should consider investing in hurricane shutters. Although they may be a considerable expense, by having them, home owners can lower their yearly home owners insurance by a significant amount. Hurricane insurance is also a necessity, as is flood insurance. Many people whose homes were destroyed or badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina never got insurance reimbursements because the insurance companies claimed that the damage to their homes was caused by flooding that wasn’t directly related to the storm.
Securing the roof is another important thing that people can do. People who live in modular or mobile homes can purchase roof straps that will help to secure the roof. If there are existing problems with a leaking roof, those problems need to be fixed before hurricane season begins. The cost of repairing a roof is expensive enough as it is, and adding damage from hurricane or tropical storm force winds, plus water damage will only make things considerably worse.
If hurricane shutters aren’t an option, purchase plywood to cover windows well in advance of the storm. Also purchase nails and other supplies that will be necessary to protect and secure windows and doors. The better sealed a house is, the less chance there is for broken windows, excessive wind damage and/or water damage not related to flooding.
*Protect appliances and utilities
Regardless of whether or not you plan to evacuate your home, protecting appliances and utilities is essential. Turning off the main electricity to a house can potentially prevent a fire because electricity comes into contact with water. The same goes for gas. These utilities will need to be turned off at the main supply to the home. All appliances should be unplugged if there is a power loss or flooding is a likelihood.
*Gather important records and documents
Having a safe, waterproof and fireproof place for important records such as a deed to the house or land, marriage licenses, home, car and health insurance records, medical records, social security and any other crucial information is essential. Have these things in a lightweight enough box that they can be easily grabbed if evacuation becomes necessary.
Regardless of whether or not you intend to evacuate or stay at home during the storm, having a supply of medications for all family members is essential. Depending on the category of the storm and the extent and type of the damage, you may not be able to get medication for a significant period of time.
*Have plenty of cash
A supply of cash is another necessity. Power failures may make it impossible for debit or credit cards to work, and if that’s the case, no one will be able to withdraw cash from an ATM machine. Having enough cash may make it possible for you to pay for a hotel, meals or other things.
*Filling the car with gas
Power failures will prevent gas pumps from working. Besides that, in many places, frantic people will flock to gas stations to fill their tanks. Do this well in advance of the storm so you can be sure that you have enough gas. Some people may take gas cans and fill them as well. This provides a sense of protection in case gas is difficult to procure in the aftermath of the storm .
*Non-perishable food and water
Having a supply of non-perishable food and water is essential. People should look for food that requires the least amount of preparation as possible. Although single serve portions tend to be more expensive, this is a time when it may be wiser to purchase these types of containers. People can eat an entire portion of whatever you have, and not have to worry about preventing spoilage. Things like dried fruit, individual cups of fruit, small cans of tuna, peanut butter, bread, crackers, peanut butter and jelly mixed together, nuts, crackers, jerky and even cereal and granola bars are excellent options. Be sure you have plenty of water, although boxed juices and flavored water are excellent options for finicky kids. Don’t wait until the storm is going to approach to stock up on food. People tend to panic at the last minute, hoarding whatever they can find.
Other things that people need to have on hand to make it through a hurricane include batteries, lanterns, a battery powered radio, flashlights, a cell phone and extra batteries. Be sure you have plastic silverware, paper plates, napkins and paper towels. Extra garbage bags will be essential to throw out plates, and used food containers. Fill bathtubs with water so that you can flush toilets.
Make sure that family members have plenty of clean clothing and comfortable blankets and pillows. Chances are, everyone will camp out at one central area of the home. Make sure that you prepare a safe place in the home on a second story, if possible. This should keep you high enough to provide protection from flooding. Have a plan for contacting out of state family members to reassure them that you are safe.