Identify ahead of time where you could go if you are told to evacuate. Choose several places- a friend’s home in another town, a motel or a shelter.
Keep handy the telephone numbers of these places as well as a road map of your locality. You may need to take alternative or unfamiliar routes if major roads are closed or clogged.
Listen to NOAA (www.noaa.gov) Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for evacuation instructions. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Know what to do when a Hurricane WATCH is issued.
Listen to NOAA (www.noaa.gov) Weather Radio or local radio or TV stations for up-to- date storm information.
Prepare to bring inside any lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants, and anything else that can be picked up by the wind.
Prepare to cover all windows of your home. If shutters have not been installed, use precut plywood as described in following pages. Note: Tape does not prevent windows from breaking, so taping windows is not recommended.
Fill your car’s gas tank.
Recheck manufactured home tie-downs.
Check batteries and stock up on canned food, first aid supplies, drinking water and medications.
Know what to do when a hurricane WARNING is issued.
Listen to the advice of local officials, and leave if they tell you to do so.
Complete preparation activities.
If you are not advised to evacuate, stay indoors, away from windows.
Be aware that the calm “eye” is deceptive; the storm is not over. The worst part of the storm will happen once the eye passes over and the winds blow from the opposite direction. Trees, shrubs, buildings, and other objects damaged by the first winds can be broken or destroyed by the second winds.
Be alert for tornadoes. Tornadoes can happen during a hurricane and after it passes over. Remain indoors, in the center of your home, in a closet or bathroom without windows.
Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car and climb to higher ground.
If local officials haven’t advised an immediate evacuation:
If there’s a chance the weather may get worse or flooding may happen, take steps now to protect your home and belongings. Do this only if local officials have not asked you to leave.
Protect your home.
Bring things indoors. Lawn furniture, trash cans, children’s toys, garden equipment, clotheslines, hanging plants, and any other objects that may fly around and damage property should be brought indoors.
Leave trees and shrubs alone. If you did not cut away dead or diseased branches or limb from trees and shrubs, leave them alone. Local rubbish collection services will not have time before the storm to pick anything up.
Look for potential hazards. Look for unripe fruit, and other objects in trees around your property that could blow or break off and fly around in high winds. Cut them off and store them indoors until the storm is over.
Turn off electricity and water. Turn off electricity at the main fuse or breaker, and turn off water at the main valve.
Leave natural gas on. Unless local officials advise otherwise, leave natural gas on because you will need it for heating and cooking when you return home. If you turn gas off, a licensed professional is required to turn it back on, and it may take weeks for a professional to respond.
Turn off propane gas service. Propane tanks often become dislodged in disasters.
If flooding is expected, consider using sand bags to keep water away from your home. It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, giving you a wall one foot high and 20 feet long. Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, strong helpers, and time to place them properly.
Remember Houses do not explode due to air pressure differences. Damage happens when wind gets inside a home through a broken window, door, or damaged roof.
Cover the outside of windows with shutters or plywood. Use shutters that are rated to provide significant protection from windblown debris, or fit plywood coverings over all windows. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking. All tape does is prevent windows from shattering. Using tape on windows is not recommended.
Protect your valuables.
Move objects that may get damaged by wind or water to safer areas of your home. Move television sets, computers, stereo and electronic equipment, and easily moveable appliances like a microwave oven to higher levels of your home and away from windows. Wrap them in sheets, blankets or burlap.
Make a visual or written record of all of your household possessions. Record model and serial numbers. This list could help you prove the value of what you owned if those possessions are damaged or destroyed, and can assist you to claim deductions on taxes. Do this for all items in your home, including expensive items such as sofas, chairs, tables, beds, chests, wall units, and any other furniture too heavy to move. Store a copy of the record somewhere away from home, such as in a safe deposit box.
Prepare for high winds.
Install hurricane shutters or purchase precut 1/2″ outdoor plywood boards for each window of your home. Install anchors for the plywood and predrill holes in the plywood so that you can put it up quickly.
Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through.