How to prepare for and recover from hurricanes
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is already setting records, with a never-before-seen nine named storms that formed before Aug. 1. Meanwhile, two storms in the Gulf of Mexico—Marco and Laura—were on track to make landfall within the same 48 hours. Tropical Storm Marco made landfall Aug. 24.
This year's storm season preparation is also different this year due to the coronavirus. Normal protocol, such as utilizing emergency shelters, can’t be followed in the same way for fear of viral spread. Additional shelters, the wearing of masks, and increased hygiene are all considerations for the 2020 hurricane season.
When you’re facing a natural disaster of such epic proportions, it’s easy to feel powerless. Although there’s no way to completely avoid these dangerous storms, you can take measures to protect your home and family. Stacker consulted official recommendations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, Red Cross, and other experts to compile this comprehensive list of steps you should take to prepare for and recover from a hurricane.
Take the following steps to ensure you have everything you need the next time disaster strikes—and to ensure you’re able to return home, assess the damage, and begin to rebuild while staying safe. Remember: Even after the weather report clears, the negative effects of a hurricane can still linger.
From emergency supply kits to reporting losses, here are 30 ways to prepare for and recover from hurricanes.
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#1. Make an emergency plan
No matter where you live, everyone should have an emergency plan. Sit down with your family and friends to discuss how you will find shelter, where you will evacuate and how you will communicate in case of an emergency.
#2. Put together an emergency kit
Every household should also have an emergency supply kit ready, including a “go bag” for each person. That way, if you need to shelter in place or leave home in a hurry, you’ll have everything you need to stay safe and healthy.
#3. Assess risk factors in your area
Some states like Florida get hit by hurricanes every year, while others very rarely experience this type of storm. Do some research on your county to find out how often your area experiences tropical storms, then check FEMA’s flood map to determine your risk of flooding.
#4. Stockpile sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and other useful supplies
Right before a hurricane makes landfall, home-improvement stores will be swamped by homeowners trying to purchase sandbags, plastic sheeting, and other supplies to keep floodwater out of the house. Store these supplies in a safe place ahead of time so you don’t have to join the mad dash.
#5. Plan for your pets
Don’t overlook the nonhuman members of your family! If you have to evacuate, your pets will need to evacuate, too. Make sure they’re all microchipped and have identification tags—and make sure you have a plan for how to evacuate them.
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#6. Know your evacuation route
As soon as you hear that severe weather might be possible, start thinking about where you will go. Can you stay with friends or family? Do you need to make reservations at a hotel? Consider your route out of town, as well.
#7. Back up your electronics
Hurricanes can fill your home with floodwater, causing damage to computers, phones, and other electronic devices. Save important documents by uploading them to an online backup service or external hard drive that you take with you.
#8. Fill bottles with clean drinking water
Extreme weather can knock out utility service, so it’s best to prepare enough drinkable water to survive for several days without running water. You’ll need at least one gallon of water per person per day for three days.
#9. Keep your gas tank at least half full
If officials call for an evacuation, you’re going to want to leave immediately—not have to stop for gas along with everyone else. Don’t let your gas gauge dip below the halfway mark just to be safe.
#10. Make sure your home insurance is up to date
Check your home insurance policy to make sure it’s still valid and that you understand what is covered. Most standard policies cover damage caused by flying debris, falling trees, and high winds, but many don’t cover flooding—a major problem during hurricanes. Consider purchasing flood insurance if you live in a hurricane-prone region.
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