Hurricanes are one of the most devastating forces in Mother Nature’s arsenal. It’s almost like a combination all of nature’s elemental fury in one catastrophic yet awe inspiring package. Damage to life and property from hurricanes are caused by the winds, storm surge, inland flooding and tornadoes that accompany them. There’s no stopping a hurricane; but there’s definitely something you can do to protect yourself and your family from it. And that’s probably why you’re searching the internet for how to prepare a hurricane. Thankfully, our article solves that problem by providing information on making a hurricane preparedness plan. It’ll also show you how to stay safe during a hurricane and after it passes. So grab a pen and notebook (you really should) as we begin.

Find out your hurricane risk

Hurricanes form over the warm waters of the tropical oceans. Hurricane season typically starts from the 15th of May and the 1st of June in the Eastern Pacific and Atlantic ocean basins respectively. And they both end on the 30th of November. Depending on factors such as wind speed, depth of storm surge and resulting damage, hurricanes are classified into categories 1 to 5. Let’s use a table to simply this classification.

CategoryWind Speed (Mph)Storm Surge (Feet)Damage at Landfall
174 – 954 – 5Minimal
296 – 1106 – 8Moderate
3111 – 1309 – 12Extensive
4131-15513 – 18Extreme
5155 and Over18 and OverCatastrophic

Thanks to advancement in weather forecasting and technology, you can know what to expect during hurricane season. Find out from your local authorities how at risk your neighbourhood is for hurricanes. You should also ask for the expected degree of impact and what plans are in place to protect people. Don’t forget to ask about evacuation plans, routes and shelters. Understanding how exposed your area – and ultimately you – is to hurricane risks is the first step to staying safe from hurricanes.

You can check out the National Weather Service website and sign up for its wireless emergency alerts program. When you’ve done that, get every member of your family to sign up as well. In addition to this, get a weather radio for backup – you know, just in case there’s poor cellphone signal. This way you’ll all get timely alerts on the weather situation and put your emergency plan into action.

Make a hurricane preparedness plan

After you’ve gotten all that hurricane information, the next step is to make a hurricane plan. Your hurricane plan is basically you family emergency plan but with hurricanes in mind. It should contain a communication plan and items for your go-bag or emergency kit. If you haven’t already made one, you can check out our article on how to prepare a family emergency plan for pointers. Remember to consider the special needs that any member of your household may have as you make your plan.

In addition to laying out the steps to take to keep your family safe from hurricanes, your hurricane plan also details how you’ll protect your home from hurricane damage. Here are some of the questions your hurricane plan should answer:

  • What to do in an evacuation
  • Location of the nearest designated shelter in your area
  • How your family will get there
  • In the case of lower category hurricanes, which rooms of the house are safest to take shelter in
  • What items to move indoors or strap down
  • Post-hurricane recovery
  • how to make insurance claims on lost property

Staying safe in a hurricane

Hurricanes do not have a definite lifespan. While some hurricanes last for a few hours or days, many can last up to two weeks – and even a whole month. Part of learning about how to prepare for a hurricane is learning about how to stay safe in one. In higher category hurricanes, the raging winds carry and hurl debris that can hurt – or even kill – a person in its way. Flooding from the heavy rains and storm surges can wash away lives and properties. To keep your family safe in a hurricane, you can:

  • Fortify your home against damage by securing items that can be airborne or swept away in a flood. If it’s possible, you can take indoors, store them in your garage. Examples: outdoor furniture, barbeque grills, bicycles and other vehicles. Remove broken branches from trees near your house as they can become wind-borne missiles. Other ways to strengthen your home include sealing leaky doors and windows and clearing gutters and drains of clutter. Installing hurricane shutters and surge protection are also great ideas. Most importantly purchase or review your insurance policy.
  • Prepare for evacuation by learning all the evacuation routes ahead of time. And ensuring the members of your household know them too. Learn the location of designated shelters or hotel where you can your family can be safe from the hurricane. Aim to practice evacuating your family at least once so that everyone gets a feel for the process.

More tips on staying safe in a hurricane

  • Shelter-in-place by finding the safest place in your home to hid during a hurricane. During a hurricane, the safest place in your home are rooms without windows. If your house has a storm shelter, ensure everyone is there when the hurricane hits your area. Where there’s no storm shelter, an interior room, one without external doors and windows, is the safest place to hide in a hurricane. The closet, bathroom and stairwell space (in multistoried buildings) are popular suggestions from experts.
  • Stock up on supplies. Your family emergency kit or go-bag should be well-stocked. It should contain among other things a 3-day (at least) supply of water for everyone, non-perishable food, flashlights, backup batteries, first aid and medication.

When you know how to prepare for a hurricane, you give your self and your family higher chances for survival. What’s more, you’ll also be able to recover faster from any losses it may cause. Remember to make special plans for your pets. Check out animal boarding facilities in a safe area and consult your veterinarian for advise. For more information, take a look at our article on pet preparedness plan.