2021 Hurricane Guide

The Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 through Nov. 30.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting another “above-normal” Atlantic hurricane season this year.

Planning and preparing can make a big difference in safety and resiliency in the wake of a hurricane.

The ability to quickly recover following a hurricane requires a focus on preparedness, advance planning, and knowing what to do in the event of a hurricane.

This guide from FEMA is designed to help you properly prepare for a hurricane and know how to protect yourself during and after one:

How to Prepare for a Hurricane

Here are the basics:

  • Sign up for local alerts and warnings.
  • Prepare to evacuate by testing your emergency communication plan(s), learning evacuation routes, having a place to stay, and packing a “go bag.”
  • Stock emergency supplies (read more below).
  • Protect your property by installing sewer backflow valves, anchoring fuel tanks, reviewing insurance policies, and cataloging belongings.
  • Collect and safeguard critical financial, medical, educational, and legal documents and records.
  • Keep your cell phone charged when you know a hurricane is in the forecast and purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.

Plan for an Evacuation

If the danger is significant, state or local government officials may issue an evacuation notice.

You can do the following to be better prepared:

  • Learn your community’s evacuation plan and identify several posted routes to leave the area.
  • Emergency shelter location: To find a shelter near you, download the FEMA app at fema.gov/mobile-app.
  • Create your family emergency communication plan. Your family may not be together when a hurricane occurs, so it is important to know how to contact one another and how to get back together.
  • Make a plan for your pet.
  • Plan for your entire household including children, people with disabilities and access and functional needs.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half-full at all times. Check fuel availability near you on GasBuddy.com.
  • Maintain basic emergency supplies in your vehicle. (Read more below).
  • Pick an out-of-state contact everyone can call to check-in and report their status.
  • Know where you will meet up if you are separated and where you will stay.
  • Pack a “go bag” including items you need to take with you if you evacuate. A “go bag” should be easy to carry and kept in a place where you can grab it quickly.

Emergency Supplies

You can build your supplies over time by adding a few items each week or month. Gather in advance the necessary supplies and items you will need to stay safe after the hurricane passes and as you start to recover.

Stock food items that do not need refrigeration and will last. Regularly replace items like water, food, medications, and batteries that go bad over time.

Read FEMA’s full supply kit by clicking here.

Emergency Communication

Make sure you have everything you’ll need to get in touch with your family either through cellular phones or email.

Medical Needs

Be equipped to tend to any current or unexpected medical conditions your family may have.

Critical Documents

Place any important documents in a waterproof container to help keep them dry and easily accessible.

Tools and Safety Items

Small items like matches, flashlights, a multi-purpose tool, and a whistle can make a huge difference for your family while weathering the storm.

Food/Supplies

Have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water for your family. Remember to pack anything specific to your family’s needs.

Hygiene and Sanitation

Practicing good hygiene can stop the spread of bacteria and infectious disease.

Protective Gear

Protect yourself by packing warm clothes and blankets to prevent hypothermia. Don’t forget protective footwear too.

Comfort and Priceless Items

You may be away from your home for an extended period and your property may be damaged. Grab any items that are irreplaceable or may provide comfort to your family, especially your children.

Ask yourself, “What would I need for myself and my family if a hurricane struck?”

Add any of these specific items to your Hurricane Preparedness Checklist, which you can print out by clicking here.

Take Action to Protect Your Property Against Wind and Water Damage

Planning and preparing before a hurricane strikes can help you manage the impact of high winds and floodwaters.

Take the steps outlined below to keep you and your family safe while protecting your home and property.

If you are a renter, talk with your landlord or property manager about the steps you can take together to protect yourself, your family, your home, and your property.

Wind

High winds: The best way to reduce the risk of damage to a structure from hurricane winds is to reinforce or strengthen the building including doors, windows, walls, and roofs.

The best way to protect yourself is to consider either constructing a safe room that meets FEMA criteria or a storm shelter that meets ICC 500 criteria.

Wind-borne debris: Bring loose, lightweight objects (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans, and bicycles) inside; anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., gas grills and propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on buildings.

Flood

There are steps that you or your property owner can take now to make your home or business more flood resistant. Some improvements are simple and inexpensive; others require more of an investment.

As your budget allows, take these steps to protect your property from flood damage and manage your risks.

  • Keep gutters and drains free of debris.
  • Install a water alarm and sump pumps with battery backup.
  • Install “check valves” in sewer lines to prevent floodwater from backing up into your drains.
  • Stockpile emergency protective materials such as plywood, plastic sheeting, and sandbags.
  • Elevate the heating system (furnace), water heater, and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.
  • Waterproof the basement.
  • In areas with repetitive flooding, consider elevating the building.

To read more about how to stay safe during and after a hurricane, read the FEMA guide here.

A printable version is available here.

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