A hurricane checklist is something you must have as the damage caused by hurricanes can’t be overstated. Entire communities can be destroyed and people’s ways of life can be disrupted for months before they’re able to return to normal.
Having a hurricane tear through your area forces you to enter a survival scenario whether you’re prepared for it or not.
Hurricanes can’t be avoided, but the damage they cause can be minimized by taking steps to prepare ahead of time. Doing these 5 simple steps in the following hurricane checklist will give you and your family the extra buffer of protection to make it through even the strongest hurricane safely.
Hurricane Checklist – Step 1: Get Alerts Quickly
The first step to being prepared for a hurricane is to have quick access to reliable information. The sooner you receive warnings about a potential hurricane the more time you have to prepare for it.
You should sign up for alerts and notifications from your local community. In addition to TV and radio, there are apps for your phone that will notify you as soon as a potential threat comes up. The National Weather Service also issues hurricane alerts that you should keep an eye on.
There are three terms used in regards to hurricane warnings: Advisory, Watch, and Warning.
A Hurricane advisory means there might be weather conditions will cause significant inconveniences and could be hazardous, but aren’t necessarily deadly.
A Hurricane watch means that a hurricane is possible within 48 hours, but it still isn’t guaranteed to hit yet. It’s best to take be prepared for the worst anyway.
A hurricane warning means a hurricane will hit within the next 36 hours. At this point the threat of a hurricane is guaranteed and you should begin securing your home or evacuating if directed to do so.
Step 2: Understand Your Plan
When dealing with the threat of a hurricane, time is an important resource you can’t afford to waste. Understanding your plan beforehand prevents indecision and allows you to get your family to safety well before the storm hits.
Some hurricanes require evacuation, for others you can go to a community shelter, and for less serious hurricanes you might be able to stay in your home. You should have a clear plan for all three possibilities.
Make sure you know the locations of where you plan on going, and are familiar with multiple routes to get there. It’s not uncommon for some routes to be blocked by traffic or even downed debris, so having backup routes gives you more options for your arsenal.
Go over your emergency plan with your family so everyone is on the same page about what to do when there’s the possibility of a hurricane. Have predetermined meeting places where everyone can meet in case communication is down.
Step 3: Have Your Bug Out Bag Ready
In order to get on the move quickly, you’ll need to already have a bug out bag ready to go when there’s the threat of a hurricane. Without one, you’ll be in a panic trying to pack everything you need…which not only wastes valuable time, but also makes you more likely to forget to pack something important.
Your bug out bag should be packed with only essential items that will help you survive. That means things like clothes, food, water, a multi-tool, and communications. Don’t pack anything unnecessary. Remember, you have limited space so stick to the essentials.
The best places to keep your bug out bag are in your car or in an easy to access place in your home. Don’t pile it under a bunch of stuff or you won’t be able to find it or get to it when you really need it.
Ideally, everyone in your family should have their own bug out bag. This spreads the load out between multiple people and also protects against loss or theft. Even if one person loses their bag or gets it stolen the others in your family will be able to share theirs.
Step 4: Stockpile Supplies at Home
Not all hurricanes require evacuation, and if you plan on staying in your home during a hurricane you should have enough supplies stockpiled in order to make it through the storm.
Remember, you won’t be able to go to the store or get anything you don’t already have, so make sure you have everything you need already. Food and water are always important, so be sure to have plenty of them.
The power will most likely go out during the storm which causes several problems. The food in the fridge will slowly spoil, you won’t have light, and your cell phone’s battery will slowly drain.
As soon as there’s news of a hurricane, turn the fridge to the coldest setting and avoid opening it as much as possible. That will help keep the food fresh for longer than usual.
For light and power for small devices, having a backup power storage device is very handy. It’s like having an extra battery that you only use when you need it.
Step 5: Secure Your Home
If you’ve followed step 1 and had enough advance warning, you should have enough time left to do some basic home fortifications.
The most important things to secure in your home are to fortify the windows, doors, and clearing out any loose items in the yard.
If your windows already have shutters then simply close and lock them. If not, covering your windows and doors with plywood is a good alternative. Plywood is both a cheap and effective solution.
If there are any loose items in your yard like potted plants, toys, signs, or loose branches you should remove them. These items can be picked up and thrown around by the wind, causing massive damage to your house.
You may also want to quickly gather up important documents and store them somewhere safe. Insurance, financial, and medical papers can all be kept in a heavy and waterproof container to prevent the massive inconvenience that comes with replacing them.
Remember, there will always be damage when hurricanes come through. It’s simply unavoidable.
But with the right steps taken beforehand the damage can be minimized to a manageable level and you can return to your normal way of life much sooner than those who weren’t prepared.