If you’re over age 50 then you’ve probably experienced your fair share of hurricanes, the massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land that cause major destruction and even death. Hurricanes result in powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, landslides, coastal and inland flooding that can happen along U.S. coastal lines, or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans and can travel more than 100 miles inland. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30; Pacific hurricane season runs from May 1 to November 30.
Do you know what to do once a hurricane strikes? Do you know what to do after the hurricane has moved on? Here are some before, during, and after tips on how to survive a hurricane:
Prepare (supplies should last for at least three days)
Secure your home
Do NOT hesitate to evacuate your property if you are advised to do so
Seek out a safe FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) or storm shelter (find out where they are before a storm), or secure an interior small, windowless, room or closet on the low level of your home that is not prone to flooding
Develop a plan with your family for a meeting place in case you are separated
Fill up your vehicle up with gas
Have cash at hand and secure it in a waterproof container
Fill prescriptions and place them in a watertight container
Make sure you have enough non-perishable food for at least three days (dried fruit, canned food, peanut butter, etc.)
Have at least a gallon of water per person, per day for drinking and hygiene
First Aid kit
Flashlight, battery-powered radio with extra batteries
Whistles to signal for help
Secure important documents in a bank safety deposit box, or copy to a USB drive and place in a waterproof storage container
Pet supplies like food and water
Cell phone with charger, extra battery, and solar charger
Keep a portable radio handy to keep you updated
If trapped in a building, go to the highest level
DO NOT walk, swim or drive through flood waters! It only takes 6 inches of flood waters to knock you down, and 12 inches of flood waters to sweep your vehicle away!
DO NOT leave your home or shelter until you hear confirmation that the storm has passed.
Storms are tricky, and the eye of one can create a temporary hush so do not venture out until authorities have deemed conditions safe
ONLY return home after authorities have surveyed the area and provided a clearance to do so
Keep away from power lines that have fallen and never step in puddles of water that are near them
Board up any broken windows to deter burglary
Use a generator ONLY outside and away from windows and doors; never place one in a garage as they can produce the odorless and colorless killer gas carbon monoxide
If you smell gas when you get home, leave the property immediately and call your local utility company to investigate the matter
Don’t make permanent repairs on your home until an insurance claims professional has inspected the damage
Inventory all of your damaged property and create a list for your insurers; include brand the name, age, guesstimate of purchase date, value, photos, and videos if you have them to help support your claim
If your home is not safe to live in after a hurricane, contact your insurer to discuss finding a temporary dwelling.
FEMA offers a free app that will allow you to receive real-time alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations nationwide, learn emergency tips for over 20 types of disasters, locate open emergency shelters in your area and find disaster recovery centers–go to www.fema.gov/mobile-app to download it.