How To Prepare
After a major disaster, it is unlikely that emergency response services will be able to immediately respond to everyone’s needs, so it’s important to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family. Knowing what to do is your best protection AND your responsibility.
Create a family disaster plan including a communication plan and an Evacuation Plan.
These steps will help you prepare for a hurricane:
Designate an Out-of-Area Contact Person
Try to select someone that is far enough away to not be affected by the same emergency. Provide this person with the names and contact information of the people you want to keep informed of your situation. Instruct family members to call this person and tell them where they are. Write down all contact numbers and information on an Emergency Contact Card. Long distance phone service is often restored sooner than local service.
Designate a Safe Room
Select a safe room in the event that you are home during a hurricane (in non-mandatory evacuation situation). The safe room should be centrally located in the house, with no windows, at ground level, or in a basement. Safe rooms are typically bathrooms or closet rooms. Make sure your safe room has adequate ventilation.
Plan an Escape Route
Discuss the options you have in the case your home is no longer safe. If possible, plan to stay with a friend or relative who lives out of state or further inland. Please note that many in-state hotels tend to be full during the event of a hurricane. If you are bringing a pet, check with the hotel first or visit PetsWelcome.com for a list of pet-friendly hotels. Area Shelters are not designed for comfort and should be used as a last resort. Please see our list of Evacuation Procedures for more information.
Duplicate Important Documents
Also keep copies off-site, either in a safety deposit box or with someone you trust. Documents may include:
- drivers license
- social security card
- financial statements
- insurance information
- marriage license
This can be done through inventory lists, photographs, or video. Keep copies of this information off-site with your other important documents.
Create a Pet Plan
For helpful tips please see the Pet Plan section.
When Planning, Consider Special Needs
Children, seniors, people with disabilities, and family members that don’t speak English may need extra attention during a hurricane. If you, or someone you know, requires special assistance during an evacuation, register with the local emergency office of the disadvantaged person. Palm Beach County has a Special Needs Program (for citizens with certain medical problems during a major hurricane. FloridaDisaster.org features safety tips and hurricane facts especially for kids. Learn about emotional coping during a hurricane at NCTSNet.org.
Looking for vital supplies as a storm approaches can be a harrowing experience.
Do not wait until the area is threatened by a tropical storm or hurricane, begin to gather needed items before the tropics become active. Find a cool, dry place to store these items. Some of these items you may take with you should you choose to evacuate to a local shelter.
At a minimum, you should have these basic supplies:
- Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).
- Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible).
- Extra batteries.
- First aid kit.
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items.
- Multi-purpose tool, like a Swiss Army knife.
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items.
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies).
- Cell phone with charger.
- Family and emergency contact information.
- Extra cash (ATMs might be inoperable).
- Extra fuel for generator and car.
Depending on your family’s requirements, you may need to include: medical-care items, baby supplies, pet supplies and other things, such as extra car and house keys.
Additional supplies might include towels, plastic sheeting, duct tape, scissors and work gloves. There is a chance that COVID-19 mitigation measures may still be in place, so bringing gloves, a mask and appropriate sanitizing supplies may be valuable.
Getting your home ready to withstand hurricane force winds is something that must both happen well beforehand as well as when the storm is approaching. Helping windows and doors withstand the impact of flying objects is just as important as removing potential flying objects from around your home and lawn.
- Clear your yard. Make sure there’s nothing that could blow around during the storm and damage your home. Move bikes, lawn furniture, grills, propane tanks, and building material inside or under shelter.
- Cover up windows and doors. Use storm shutters or nail pieces of plywood to the outside window frames to protect your windows. This can help keep you safe from pieces of shattered glass. Avoid using masking or duct tape in an effort to protect your windows, as this has proven to be very ineffective against strong winds.
- Be ready to turn off your power. If you see flooding, downed power lines, or you have to leave your home, switch your power off.
- Fill clean water containers with drinking water. You’ll want to do this in case you lose your water supply during the storm. You can also fill up your sinks and bathtubs with water for washing.
- Before any threat arises, take the time to trim back overgrown shrubs and trees.