Hurricane Safety Tips
A Comprehensive Resource
Hurricanes, while mildly named, can cause catastrophic damage. The word hurricane comes from the
Taino Native American word hurucane, which translates into "evil spirit of the world." The
following hurricane safety tips will help to ensure your safety during one
Statistical Importance: moderate
Approximately 12% of the nation’s population live along the coastal portion of states stretching from North Carolina to Texas — the areas most threatened by Atlantic hurricanes.(3)
Knowing When and Where to Expect a Hurricane
Expect the hurricane season, and enter it prepared.
- Recognize the wind scale numbers
- 1 = 74-95 mph: dangerous and damaging winds (toppled trees, power outages)
- 2 = 96-110 mph: extremely dangerous; extensive damage (uprooted small trees, long power outages, road blocks)
- 3 = 111-129 mph: devastating damage (trees uprooted, limited water and electricity)
- 4 = 130-156 mph: catastrophic damage (roof and wall loss, most trees and power lines downed)
- 5 = 157+ mph: catastrophic damage (most homes destroyed, uninhabitable areas)
Ensure that your house meets the building codes for withstanding such strong winds and storms.
- Cover your property with the proper insurance so you’ll be best covered.
- Build a safe room or cellar if you don’t have a secure interior room within your home.
- Ensure your garage doors are particularly enforced.
- Install a generator.
Prepare an emergency kit and a family communication strategy.
- Ensure a supply of water—both for drinking and for sanitary purposes (fill bathtubs and containers too).
- Make sure you’ve a large and fresh supply of batteries.
Always have proper tools and supplies at hand.
Ensure that your home is clear of potential debris and falling obstacles—far from power lines and old or large trees.
- Unblock rain gutters, walkways, and spouts.
- Ensure your vehicles are full of fuel (and emergency supplies) at all times in case of a sudden evacuation.
Learn community evacuation routines and rules.
Keep a list of contact info handy (fire, rescue, law enforcement, property insurance, local hospitals, radio and TV stations, and personal emergency contacts) for quick reference.
If travelling or planning a vacation during hurricane season, purchase travel insurance that will cover you for these specific storms.
- Check in frequently for updates about delays, cancellations, or emergency procedures.
Statistical Importance: high
36% of Americans do not have emergency preparedness plans. (1)
Emergency Procedures During a Hurricane Watch or Warning
Provide further stability and solidity to your home with these hurricane safety tips:
- Protect windows and other openings with plywood boards and permanent storm shutters.
- Secure outside objects, and stow vehicles, tools, furniture and other equipment (which can’t be tied down) in your garage or basement.
- Fasten your roof more firmly with straps or clips that will keep it close to the structure of the building frame.
Tune in to a radio or television to monitor weather patterns and information about the oncoming storm.
Brace exterior doors; close interior doors.
Follow instructions from authorities immediately
- Turn off utilities (at least: keep your refrigerator closed and crank its thermostat to the coldest degree).
If you’re in a high-rise building, take shelter on as low a level as possible (below the 10th floor). Consider having your employees an emergency plan training which could help you both on reducing potential risks and cost of damages.
Evacuate immediately if advised to do so.
Evacuate anyway if:
- You are in a temporary or mobile structure.
- You live in a high-rise building, where wind currents are much stronger.
- You are situated near the coastline, river or stream, floodplain, island waterway, or other large body of water.
- You are situated in a low-lying area; aim for sturdy and relatively high ground (less threatened by flooding).
Statistical Importance: N/A
No relevant statistically significant data available.
When the Storm Hits
Stay in a secure, interior room, such as a small windowless room, closet, or hallway at the lowest level of the building.
Take cover beneath a sturdy table or desk, and crouch on the floor.
Avoid windows, glass, and elevators.
Avoid using the phone except for emergencies.
Avoid using combustible objects (candles, heaters, etc.).
Remain indoors even during the eye of the storm; it will resume shortly, so don’t let it find you exposed.
Monitor weather conditions with a battery-operated radio or television.
Statistical Importance: high
After Hurricane Katrina, the number of births to non-Hispanic black women fell by over one-half to 4,575, or 31% of all births in the following 12-month period.(6)
Safety Precautions After the Hit
Exit the house only if
- It’s certain that the storm has cleared.
- You smell or spot gas leaks, fire, or other hazards.
Before entering a building, carefully check for weakened walls and roofs, loose power lines, teetering trees, gas leaks or fumes, and other forms of damage.
Never use a generator indoors, as it can release deadly levels of lingering carbon monoxide.
- Use flashlights, not candles.
- Turn on your flashlight before entering a dark building, because the battery could produce a spark that will ignite any existent gas leak.
Avoid and immediately report downed power lines.
Avoid driving unless necessary; watch out for flooded roads and unstable bridges.
If you cannot return home, text SHELTER + your zip code to 43362 to locate the nearest shelter.
If you’ve been separated from family,
- Contact the FEMA National Emergency National Registry and Locator System (NEFRLS)
- Or the Red Cross
Take precautions against debris and wild animals.
Keep children and pets under close surveillance.
Refrain from using tap water either for drinking or cooking purposes, as it may be contaminated.
If you’ve evacuated, wait for officials to approve a safe return.
Continue to monitor weather conditions, in case of a second storm, extensive rainfall, or ensuing flooding or tornados.
---- Hurricane Safety Tips: Sources ----
- (1) Annual Disaster/Death Statistics for US Storms by depts.ttu.edu
- (2) Hurricane Katrina Deaths, Louisiana, 2005m page 1 by new.dhh.louisiana.gov
- (3) 2012 Hurricane Season Begins by census.gov
- (4) THE DEADLIEST, COSTLIEST, AND MOST INTENSE UNITED STATES TROPICAL CYCLONES FROM 1851 TO 2010 (AND OTHER FREQUENTLY REQUESTED HURRICANE FACTS), page 6 by nhc.noaa.gov
- (5) Hurricane Katrina by ncdc.noaa.gov
- (6) The Effect of Hurricane Katrina: Births in the U.S. Gulf Coast Region, Before and After the Storm, page 4 by cdc.gov