Safeguarding Your Home & Family
The best time to prepare for a hurricane is before hurricane season begins on June 1. Being prepared can help your family minimize the impact of the storm.
As the Hurricane Season Begins
- Write or review your Family Emergency Plan: Before an emergency happens, sit down with your family or close friends and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in an emergency. Keep a copy of this plan in your emergency supplies kit or another safe place where you can access it in the event of a disaster. Start at the Ready.gov emergency plan webpage.
- Make an evacuation plan: If you live on the coast or in a mobile home, you may have to evacuate in the event of a major storm. Prepare for the worst and be ready to evacuate your home if officials direct you to do so. Locate the nearest shelter and different routes you can take to get there from your home. Remember, shelters do not usually accept pets.
- Get your disaster kit stocked and ready: Use our guide to build your hurricane kit. Replace any water or food in your disaster kit every six months.
- Review Your Insurance Policies: Review your insurance policies to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your home and personal property. Homeowners policies don’t cover flood damage, so you may want to consider looking into flood insurance. If you live by the coast, you may also need a separate policy for protection against wind and wind-blown water damage. If you have questions about what your current policy will cover or need to augment your current coverage, contact your insurance professional.
- Create a home inventory with pictures or video.
- Keep insurance policies, documents, and other valuables in a water-proof box. You may need quick, easy access to these documents. Keep them in a safe place less likely to be damaged if a hurricane causes flooding. Take pictures on a phone and keep copies of important documents and files on a flashdrive that you can carry with you if you need to evacuate.
- Write down emergency phone numbers and keep them on the refrigerator or near a phone in your house. Program them into your cell phone too.
- Make sure you have a way to get weather warnings and information if the power goes out. There are apps from FEMA, the Red Cross, and the WTVY 4WARN Storm Team. You can also sign up with Alabama’s CodeRED alert system to get notifications about emergencies.
- Protect your home’s windows with permanent storm shutters or prepare one-half-inch plywood covers that are pre-cut to fit your doors and windows. Install anchors for the covers and predrill holes in the plywood so that you can put them up quickly.
- Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically remove branches so that wind can blow through.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts to prevent flooding and unnecessary pressure on the awnings.
- Check fire extinguishers to make sure they are fully charged.
- Keep a supply of nails, hammers, wire, rope, pliers and other tools handy.
- Recheck manufactured home tie-downs.
- Make written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so. (Remember, you’ll need a professional to turn them back on.)
When a Hurricane Watch is Issued
- Double-check the supplies in your disaster survival kit.
- Listen to the television or radio for hurricane progress reports.
- Check supplies of medicine and first aid equipment
- Check batteries and stock up on canned food.
- Check with neighbors, senior adults, or those who may need additional help securing hurricane plans to see how you can help others.
- Keep your cell phone charged when you know a hurricane is in the forecast and purchase backup charging devices to power electronics.
- Board up windows, doors, sliding glass doors, and skylights if you don’t have safety glass.
- Wedge sliding glass doors to prevent them from being lifted from their tracks.
- Remove window screens before the storm so they don’t blow off. (Imagine having no screens and no air conditioning, but lots of mosquitoes.)
- Lower or secure TV and radio antennas. If you plan to remove your outdoor TV antenna, first unplug the TV set.
- 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. Turn over and tie down picnic tables, benches and anything else too large to move.
- Keep your car’s gas tank full.
- Get supply of cash from local bank or ATM (which will not work without electricity).
- Wash a load of clothes, since it may be some time before you can use the washing machine.
- Turn refrigerator/freezer to the coldest setting to preserve food as long as possible in case of a power failure.
- Put pets and farm animals in a safe place. Read more about pet safety during an emergency.
- Move your important business documents to a safe deposit box, or other safe location out of the path of the storm.
- Make a backup of your important computer files.
When a Hurricane Warning is Issued
- Place the items you will need if you have to evacuate in your car.
- 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.
- Place valuables up high if flooding is possible.
- Remove pictures from walls, and move furniture away from doors and windows.
- Draw drapes across windows and lock all windows and doors.
- Brace garage doors and any un-reinforced masonry.
- 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.
- Listen to the advice of local officials, and leave if they tell you to do so.
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Background Picture: Workers board up a business on Duval Street, Friday July 8, 2005, in Key West, Fla., in advance of Hurricane Dennis. Thousands of people fled the Keys on Thursday and Friday as powerful Hurricane Dennis advanced toward Florida with winds of 150 mph and a hurricane warning was issued for the lower Keys. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)