Hurricanes

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What to do...
Hurricanes can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Category Three and higher hurricanes are considered major hurricanes.

Hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes and microbursts, create storm surges along the coast, and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.

Before a Hurricane hits:

  • Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows.

  • A second option is to board up windows with 5/8" marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.

  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.

  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.

  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.

  • Consider building a safe room.

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Locate your emergency kit.

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.

  • Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects such as grills and patio furniture, or bring them indoors.

  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.

  • Turn off propane tanks.

  • Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.

  • Moor your boat if time permits.

  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.

You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.

  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.

  • If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.

  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.

  • If you feel you are in danger.

If you are unable to evacuate, go to your safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.

  • Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.

  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.

  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.

  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

Dangers such as high water, downed electrical power lines and broken gas mains are major safety threats after hurricanes. Wait for public officials to give the all-clear before returning home.

Once home, follow these precautions:

  • Use extreme caution when entering damaged homes or structures.

  • Beware of unstable trees and limbs. Falling tree limbs are a major cause of injury and death following hurricanes.

  • Downed power lines are a serious electrocution hazard. Never touch downed power lines or any objects that are in contact with them, including water.

  • Do not enter flooded homes if the electricity may still be on. Report electrical hazards to authorities.

  • If you smell gas, call the gas company. Do not smoke, light candles or use matches near gas leaks.

  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, long pants, long sleeves and gloves when cleaning up.

  • Help avoid injuries when using chain saws and power tools by learning how to operate them properly, and always follow recommended safety procedures.

  • Whenever possible, use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns instead of candles.

Take the following precautions to avoid illness:

  • Discard food from your refrigerator if it has reached room temperature. Foods that are still partially frozen or “refrigerator cold” are safe to eat. If in doubt, throw it out.

  • Don’t drink tap water until authorities say it is safe. Instead, drink bottled water or boil water for at least one minute before drinking.

    You also can disinfect water with chlorine or iodine (follow package directions) or with ordinary household bleach -- one-eighth teaspoon (about nine drops) per gallon of water.

    Sterilize water containers and drinking cups with a solution of household bleach.

  • For more information, see:
    Water in a Disaster
    Food in a Disaster

  • Poisoning from carbon monoxide is an avoidable hazard during power outages. Never use generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills inside your home, garage or near open windows, doors or vents.

    Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can build up and cause sudden illness and death. If you feel dizzy, light-headed or nauseous, seek immediate medical attention.

    For more information, see:
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • Weather conditions following hurricanes are usually very hot and humid. You may not have air conditioning for a long period of time.

    Avoid heat-related illnesses by drinking plenty of fluids and taking care to not overexert yourself when cleaning up and repairing damage.

  • When cleaning up debris, look out for broken glass and exposed nails, a leading cause of tetanus. If you are punctured by a nail or receive a deep wound, get a tetanus shot.

    For more information, see:
  • Tetanus

  • After a hurricane, it’s normal to experience emotional distress. Allow yourself and family members time to grieve.

    For more information, see:
  • Recovering from the Emotional Aftermath of a Disaster