Prepare for Hurricane Season
Hurricanes can produce winds greater than 155 mph and cause severe flooding. Prepare now to safeguard your family and home.
May 15, 2023
Hurricanes can produce winds over 155 mph and cause catastrophic damage. They can also lead to storm surges along coastlines and extensive flooding due to heavy rainfall, even far inland.
All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal areas are subject to hurricanes. Parts of the southwest United States and the Pacific Coast also experience heavy rain yearly from hurricanes spawning off Mexico. The eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15 and ends November 30. The Atlantic hurricane season lasts from June to November, with the peak season from mid-August to late October.
Review the following tips on preparing for and responding to a hurricane.
Before a Hurricane
To prepare for a hurricane, take the following measures:
- Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
- Learn the elevation level of your property and whether the land is flood-prone. This will help you know how your property will be affected when a storm surge or tidal flooding is forecasted.
- Identify levees and dams in your area and determine whether they pose a hazard to you.
- Learn community hurricane evacuation routes and how to find higher ground. Determine where you would go (will they accept your pets?) and how you would get there if you needed to evacuate.
- Make plans to secure your property.
- Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8-inch marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Install straps or additional clips to fasten your roof to the frame structure securely. This will reduce roof damage.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Reinforce your garage doors. Wind entering a garage can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
- Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and anything not tied down.
- Determine how and where to secure your boat.
- Install a generator for emergencies.
- If you live in a high-rise building, be prepared to take shelter on or below the 10th floor.
- Consider building a safe room.
Hurricanes cause heavy rains that can cause extensive flood damage in coastal and inland areas. Everyone is at risk and should consider flood insurance protection, which is not included in a traditional homeowners policy. Flood insurance is the only way to financially protect your property or business from flood damage. Learn more about flood insurance here.
During a Hurricane
If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:
- Monitor conditions on the radio, TV or phone.
- 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.
- Charge your cell phone and use it only for emergencies.
- Moor your boat if time permits.
- Keep a supply of water for sanitary purposes, such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other larger containers with water.
- Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency.
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. These 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 island waterway.
If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-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 and 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, and 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.
- Avoid elevators.
After a Hurricane
The danger isn’t over just because the storm has passed. Take these precautions:
- Continue listening to the local news or the National Weather Service (download their app here) for the latest updates.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding.
- If you have become separated from your family, use your family communications plan or the American Red Cross app and website.
- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.
- For those who have longer-term housing needs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers several types of assistance, including services and grants to help people repair their homes and find replacement housing. Apply for assistance or search for information about housing rental resources.
- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges. Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects, including downed electrical wires, weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.
- Walk carefully around the outside of your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
- Stay out of any building if you smell gas, if floodwater remains around the building or if your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe.
- Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
- Use battery-powered flashlights in the dark. Do not use candles. Turn flashlights on outside before entering any building, as a battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas if present.
- Watch your pets closely and keep them under your direct control. Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.
- Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.
- Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Never use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation. Deadly levels of carbon monoxide can quickly build up in these areas and linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
Hylant is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. Visit our natural disasters resource page for more helpful tips and tools. For further personal risk management guidance, contact us today.
The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted advisor for insurance-related questions.