If you’re new to a hurricane-prone area, you might not know how to prepare for a hurricane once a major storm or natural disaster begins to develop. Should you evacuate? What should you do with your car? How will you handle your pets during the storm?
Hurricane preparation can be stressful, but our most important tip is to prioritize emergency preparedness all year long—not just during hurricane season (the months of June through November) or in the week leading up to natural disaster impact.
This guide is designed to help you prepare for hurricane impacts immediately and in the future. We’ll break down what you should do if you’re currently in the path of a storm, how you can prepare for hurricane season throughout the year, and important considerations if you’re planning on using a generator during or after a major storm. Make sure to read up on what to do during a hurricane if you are currently in the middle of a tropical storm.
If You’re Currently in the Path of a Hurricane…
If you’re in the cone—the possible, predicted track of the storm forecasted by meteorological experts—right now, you need to take action as soon as possible to protect yourself, your family, and your belongings.
It’s time to drop everything you’re doing and:
- Make an evacuation, shelter-in-place, or emergency plan – If you plan to evacuate, and the storm is only a few days away, time is running out. If you don’t leave as soon as possible, traffic and road closures may prevent you from evacuating in time.
- Gather supplies – If you’re sheltering in place (i.e., not evacuating) during the storm, make sure to plan ahead and gather the supplies you’ll need for an emergency kit. The sections below will explore supplies lists in-depth, but the most important supplies are fuel, cash, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and drinking water.
- Fuel up – Whether you’re sheltering in place or evacuating, gas will begin to run out as a hurricane approaches your area. Be prepared to wait in line at the pump or drive to multiple stations to find one that still has gas available.
- Check your generator – If you’re staying at home, make sure your generator is in working order and has enough oil and fuel to make it through the storm and the aftermath. The “Generator Considerations for Hurricanes” section describes everything you need to know.
- Install hurricane shutters – If a storm is approaching, you need to protect your property by installing hurricane shutters as soon as possible. If you’re running out of time, focus on the location where you’ll be sheltering in place. Don’t tape your windows—it won’t prevent them from breaking, and they could create larger shards of glass (which could cause injury).
- Store your valuables – Place important documents (e.g. birth certificates, passports, and social security cards) and valuable items in a waterproof, sealed box with a lid. Store this box on a high shelf in a secure location—if it floods, anything on the ground could incur water damage.
- Monitor the situation – Most weather outlets receive their information from the same three sources—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Hurricane Center (NHC), and the National Weather Service (NWS). These are the sources you should use during a hurricane watch.
If a storm isn’t immediately approaching, you have time to prepare for hurricane conditions in the future. Our most important tip—stay prepared all year long.
Maintain a stock of drinking water and non-perishable food. The CDC recommends storing one gallon per person per day to create a minimum of a three-day supply
- Purchase hurricane or storm shutters—preferably heavy-duty aluminum shutters that attach to wall-mounted tracks with wingnuts. Pro-tip: pick up a few wingnut bits for your cordless drill or impact driver.
- Shop for a high-quality, lidded, and sealing box for storing important documents and valuables like identifying documents, precious heirlooms, and photos. Find or install a high shelf for it.
- Update your homeowners, renters, and car insurance policies to cover hurricane, flood, or severe weather damage if you can afford to do so.
- Progressively withdraw cash from the ATM and store it in a secure location. If power outages wreak havoc on your city after a hurricane, your debit card may not work while you’re restocking supplies.
- Maintain a stock of batteries, candles, toilet paper, diapers, menstrual products, or any other consumables you may need if you’re stuck inside for a prolonged period.
Developing a hurricane preparation plan before a storm develops will ease some stress and help you make decisions quickly. Your plan should include
- Steps you’ll take for both evacuation and sheltering in place
- An emergency plan for pet care
- Considerations for elderly or disabled friends and relatives
- Locations of your critical supplies and valuables
Insurance claim preparation steps, like:
- Taking “before” photos of insured items
- Finding and making a paper copy of your policy
- Writing down your agent’s contact info
You should also make sure to keep your friends and family in the loop as you prepare and consider involving them in your planning process by:
- Regularly reminding them to prepare year-round
- Establishing a safehouse or emergency meeting location
- Making a plan to caravan to an evacuation destination
Time is of the Essence
If you’re in the path of a storm, you must take action as quickly as possible. Why?
- High traffic can keep you from evacuating on time—and you don’t want to be stuck in your vehicle in the face of storm-force winds or a potentially deadly storm surge.
- Supplies dwindle the longer you wait to shop (yet another reason to stockpile year-round).
- Conditions can change quickly. If you expect the storm to hit within the next 24 hours, do your best to stay inside and at home in case severe weather arrives sooner than planned.
Generator Considerations for Hurricanes
Generators are an excellent tool for hurricane recovery. But your generator deserves as much attention as your home, loved ones, and other valuables in the lead-up to a major storm.
Year-round preparation also applies to generators—make sure to:
Regularly test, service, and clean your hurricane generator
Stock backup fuel, oil, filters, and other supplies to last at least a week during a power outage
Choose a location where your generator will run, and keep this space clear at all time
- Learn as much as you can about your generator’s safety features
And, if you’re interested in purchasing a backup generator, the time to do this is not a week before a hurricane warning. Generators will fly off the shelves, prices will skyrocket, and backup supplies (like filters and spark plugs) will be hard to come by.
Instead, do your research and make a purchase while the tropics are quiet—ideally before or after hurricane season begins.
Choose the Right Generator for Your Needs
If you plan to always evacuate during a hurricane, you may only need a generator to power your small RV or tent campsite. But, if you generally want to shelter in place, a larger generator may help you run more critical systems in your home (like a hot water heater, A/C unit, or refrigerator) simultaneously.
Preferably before hurricane season starts, choose a generator size that makes sense for your situation and budget. Calculate your maximum wattage needs, determine the space available for a generator (which needs to run outdoors), and figure out how much you can afford to spend.
Make a Generator Use Plan
So, you have a generator and just lost power an hour after the storm's landfall. What now?
Before the storm hits, make a plan for using your generator. Will you:
- Start your generator during the storm, or wait until the severe weather passes?
- Try to run multiple systems, or prioritize a single appliance (like the A/C or fridge)?
- Rely on a generator to charge handheld electronic devices, or use another backup power source for that purpose?
- Run your generator for many consecutive hours or in shifts?
Developing a plan before you need your generator will help you make quick decisions, protect your safety, and use your available fuel efficiently.
Generator Operation During a Hurricane: Dos and Don’ts
Generators are excellent tools, but like any other appliance, they can be dangerous when used improperly. Follow these guidelines for safe generator operation to protect yourself, your family, and your generator:
- Don’t overload your generator—this can cause intermittent power, which can damage the appliances connected to it.
- Never operate a generator indoors.
- Monitor the engine temperature to prevent overheating, which could cause a fire. Before you run your generator, consult the manual and locate the temperature gauge.
DuroMax: The Backup Generator Brand You Can Trust
Learning how to prepare for a hurricane is part and parcel of living on or near the coast. But remember to invest as much time and energy as you can into year-round preparation to reduce the stress leading up to landfall.
If you live in an area where the biggest weather-related threat isn’t a hurricane, but maybe a snowstorm or other extreme weather, DuroMax can help you answer all of your generator-related questions, such as how to winterize a generator, how to start a generator in cold weather, and more.
If you’re in the market for a backup generator for hurricane season, DuroMax has you covered. We offer traditional fuel generators along with dual- and tri-fuel options that can keep your home energized even when the grid fails.
Plus, our customer service is second to none. If you have a question about your generator, need help choosing a model, or want to explore all your backup power options, drop us a line, and we’ll connect you with a helpful generator expert.