Emergency Resources During a Hurricane
In the north Pacific, hurricane season begins on May 15th; in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, it starts on June 1st. No matter where you are, hurricane season ends on November 30th.
That’s nearly a six-month window for the millions of Americans who live near the coast. If you’re one of them, you may be wondering what to do in a hurricane or how to prepare for a hurricane.
Whether you need a refresher on hurricane safety tips or you’re new to a hurricane zone, this resource for hurricane best practices can help you weather the storm.
Note: If you are in current need of emergency assistance, stop reading and call 9-1-1 immediately. You can also call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helpline at 1-800-621-3362 for up-to-date information.
What to Do Before a Hurricane
Hurricanes are a unique natural disaster in that they often give us at least 48 hours of warning. With that in mind, we’re starting with ways to prepare in the days leading up to a severe storm making landfall.
If you’re in an ongoing hurricane situation, feel free to skip to the next section, where we discuss what to do during a hurricane.
Gather These Necessary Item
When roads flood and power grids fail, you could go several days without access to a store or running water. As such, it’s wise to stockpile some essentials. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) recommends having at least a three-day supply of:
- Food – Refrigerators only keep goods cold for four hours after a power outage. Beyond that, you’ll need to rely on non-perishable foods. Stock up on canned and pre-packaged foods that require little or no cooking and avoid salty or spicy foods—these can make you thirsty at a time when water is limited.
- Water – You’ll need at least one gallon of drinking water per person per day. A three-day supply is the minimum; the CDC suggests keeping two weeks’ worth of water. Consider keeping additional water for bathing and cooking.
- Batteries and chargers – Battery-powered flashlights and radios will come in handy when the power goes out. Additionally, consider purchasing a few portable chargers to keep your smartphone on—you’ll need it to communicate and receive updates.
- Medications – Keeping a supply of essential medicines ensures you won’t miss a dose.
Additionally, you may want to invest in a home backup generator. While a generator may not be necessary for every situation, when you need one, you’ll be glad to have one. Hurricanes often take out energy infrastructure, and unprepared homeowners can go days without electricity or heat. A generator eliminates such a risk.
If you already have an emergency supply kit, be sure to check it each year before hurricane season. Replace any expired foods, test all batteries, and ensure your generator is full of fuel.
Locate Your Closest Emergency Shelter
In some cases, you may need to evacuate your home during a hurricane warning. The last thing you want to do during the chaos of a storm is Google a place to stay. Even if you have a reliable Internet connection—and you might not—your time is better spent taking you and your family to the shelter.
Evacuating your home is never easy, but it’s more straightforward when you know where you’re going. Your municipality’s website likely has information on shelter locations—be sure to look well in advance of any storm and write down the address. Try to search for the closest option, as you may be unable to drive during a hurricane.
If you have a pet, search for shelters that can accommodate them—not all locations will have the appropriate amenities.
Purchase Home Insurance
If you’re a homeowner, you may already have home insurance—after all, many mortgage brokers require it. However, your current policy may not cover you in case of a hurricane.
That’s because there’s no single “hurricane insurance” policy available. With that said, you can protect your home and its contents by purchasing several hurricane-related policies.
Depending on how close to the coast you live, you may want to look into:
- Standard home insurance
- Flood insurance
- Windstorm insurance
If you rent, your renter’s insurance should cover most damages caused by a hurricane, though you may need to buy additional flood insurance.
Like a backup generator, insurance is one of those purchases you hope you’ll never have to use—but it’s worth the peace of mind.
What to Do in a Hurricane
When gale-force winds and storm surges start to lash at the coast, your primary goal is staying safe. Here are some tips that can protect you during a hurricane.
Find the Safest Place in Your Home
If you plan to weather the storm and strong wind in your home (and you haven’t been ordered to evacuate), you’ll need to move to the safest possible area.
When hurricane-force winds begin, the safest location is a room that is:
- Low to the ground (but high enough to escape floodwaters)
Before retreating to your safe room, secure all external doors and windows, and close all interior doors. Don’t forget to bring your emergency supply kit with you.
Once the worst of the storm has passed (and authorities have advised it’s safe to come out), you can exit your shelter room to assess the damages and turn on a backup generator, if necessary.
Avoid the Water
When walking or driving during a hurricane, avoid flooded areas. Even a foot of running water can sweep a car off the road, and six inches can knock you off your feet.
With that in mind, you should never:
- Move closer to the shore to “storm watch”
- Go out in a boat
- Attempt to walk or drive through water
The American Red Cross gives another reason to avoid floodwaters: They could make you ill. During a hurricane, floodwaters can become contaminated with sewage, chemicals from nearby processing plants, or bacteria. Whenever possible, staying dry is your best bet.
Listen to Emergency Officials
Above all, listen to the authorities. They know best, and they’re trying to keep you safe. If you live in a mandatory evacuation zone and receive the call to leave, do so immediately—waiting only makes rescue more challenging.
When ordered to evacuate, take only the essentials with you. These include:
- The contents of your emergency kit
- Important documents (passports, visas, wills, etc.)
- A week’s worth of clothes
- Personal hygiene items
- Glasses or contact lenses
As you depart the area, follow all posted evacuation routes. As tempting as it may be to take a shortcut, evacuation routes exist for a reason; other areas may be blocked or hazardous.
What NOT to Do in a Hurricane
In the confusion and chaos of a hurricane, it can be challenging to remember every best practice and survival tip. Understandably, your mind is elsewhere. However, there are a few things you should absolutely not do during a hurricane.
To keep yourself and your loved ones safe:
- Don’t assume the storm is over – A lull in the wind and rain doesn’t mean the hurricane has moved on; you could be in the eye of the storm. The calm you’ll experience in the eye can last between two to 30 minutes. Only proceed after officials have confirmed the hurricane has moved past your area.
- Don’t return home before it’s safe – If you evacuated your home at the insistence of an emergency agency, you should remain in your temporary shelter until they deem it safe to go back home. Attempting to return early could put you at risk of fallen electrical poles, flooding, fire, or debris carried by high winds.
- Don’t run a generator inside – Running a gas or propane generator inside can lead to a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide (CO). Always run your portable backup generator outside, and consider a generator with a CO monitor for extra safety.
- Don’t discount how you feel – It’s okay to feel upset, angry, or confused during a natural disaster—in fact, it’s perfectly normal. Try not to beat yourself up or obsess over what you could have done better. At the same time, do your best to stay calm; you can’t control the weather, so don’t waste your energy on stressing out. Instead, try to eat well and have a good night’s sleep.
In a Hurricane, You Can Trust DuroMax
Although hurricanes may be increasing in frequency and intensity, casualties from severe storms are lower than ever. Ultimately, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll become a hurricane victim—especially if you follow all best practices and listen to the experts.
While you may not sustain an injury during a hurricane, there’s a significant chance you could lose power for a day or more. To stay safe and comfortable in a hurricane, you can put your faith in a DuroMax generator.
Our generators come with Dual Fuel technology, allowing you to power them with gasoline or propane. In an emergency, having the option to use what’s available can keep you warm, dry, and fully fed—or even save a life.
If you live in a place where a hurricane may not be the biggest weather-related threat, but maybe a snowstorm or other severe winter weather, DuroMax can help you with all of your generator-related questions, such as how to winterize a generator or how to start a generator in cold weather .
To prepare for the next hurricane season, consider a DuroMax home backup generator. With sizes and features to suit every home, you’ll never have to stress over losing power in a tropical storm again.