Let me guess
You have been searching online for methods on how to survive a hurricane.
You have moved close to the eastern shore of the United States, and you have realized that you now live in Mr. Hurricane’s territory. If you live on the coast, then I am happy that you have stumbled upon this article.
After the storm, there is nothing worse than the sight of your flattened house other than injured or deceased family members.
You should do everything in your ability to prepare for such a storm because your life depends on it. Many people have died during hurricane Katrina and Michael.
The good news is that you do not need to expose your life or that of your family to the wrath of these storms.
In this article, I am going to give you some facts on hurricanes and also what you can do to prepare yourself and your house for such an event.
I will also reveal to you what to do during the storm and what to do after the storm has passed.
Are you ready?
What Is A Hurricane?
A hurricane, typhoon and a cyclone are the same types of weather phenomena, and the only difference is the location of the storm.
A cyclone is a common term used by most meteorologists to describe a rotating thunderstorm that occurs over the ocean. It usually starts from the ocean and will then move over to the land.
The damage arises from the high-speed winds, storm surges or floods.
In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term hurricane is used, and in the Northwest Pacific, the term typhoon is used. It is also important to note that the winds of a tropical storm need to reach a speed of at least 74 mph to classify as a hurricane.
A hurricane can last for days if not weeks. It is easy to spot a hurricane in advance, but the biggest problem is that it can last very long which results in large scale damage to the area afflicted. Hurricanes also begin as a tropical storm that has reached a specific wind speed.
Hurricanes can also be given names. There are currently six lists to work from, which also gets rotated each year. Each list has up to 21 names. The most significant damage from hurricanes come from the water surge where a flood from the ocean onto the land occurs.
Hurricanes also follow the same principle as that of tornadoes. It starts to develop when there is a difference between the temperature of the air.
Warm air will always rise, and once it reaches a specific height, it will start to fall and thus cool down. This difference in temperature and the direction of the air flow will create a spiral of wind which grows in strength and size.
The biggest difference between a tornado and a hurricane is the size and also the location. A tornado occurs on the land while a hurricane occurs in the ocean.
Hurricane Areas & Seasons
The term hurricane is used when a tropical cyclone (storm) has reached a wind speed of more than 74 mph in the Atlantic ocean near North and South America. To be more specific, I would also include the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.
The states of the US that are most affected by Hurricanes are Florida, Texas (Houston area), Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South &North Carolina, Virginia and almost all of the stated near the Eastern coast. If you live in one of these states, then you need to be prepared for a hurricane.
Hurricanes in the Atlantic ocean are most active during the months August to September. They can also occur anywhere from July up to November.
Preparing For A Hurricane
If you live near the east coast of the US or in one of the areas described above, then you should prepare yourself, your family and your house for in the event of a hurricane. It will be irresponsible not to prepare if you live in a high-risk area.
Preparing Your House
If you decide to stay in your home when a hurricane occurs, then you should at least fortify your house so that it is more resistant to the storm.
- Install storm shutters. You can start by installing storm shutters on the outside of your windows. These shutters will help in the prevention of broken windows. Make sure that the storm shutters are installed correctly otherwise it will be a hazard on its own.
- Fortify the roof. If you have tile roofs, make sure to install tile clips which will secure the tiles on your roof so that high winds do not blow it off. You can also install additional hurricane roof straps to the beams of your home.
- Tape your windows. If you cannot afford storm shutters, you can just as well use alligator tape to fortify up your window. Stick the tape from each corner to the corresponding one in an “X” shape.
- Declutter drains and gutters. It is essential to open up your drains and gutters to prevent the unnecessary buildup of water around your house. You can also contact the nearest plumber to install check valves.
- Repair your house. If you have any damage to your home, make sure to fix it before a hurricane comes. Any damage in the structure of your house will be a weak spot which the strong winds of the hurricane will take advantage of.
- Locate a safe room. It is best to designate a safe room in your house to where you and your family can go when a hurricane strikes. Good characteristics of a good safe room is a room that has no windows and only one door.
- Reinforce the garage doors. Strong winds should never be able to enter a building. Once it enters, it will lift the roof from the inside. Make sure you have secured and robust garage doors installed.
Prepare Your Yard
It is good practice to prepare your yard because it can also create more debris which can further damage your house during high-speed winds and floods.
- Trim the trees. Take a saw and trim all of the dead branches on the trees that surround your house. These branches will break and might fly through your windows.
- Clean out your yard. If you have any objects lying around, you should bring them in. The objects might include pots, garbage cans, patio furniture, gardening tools, equipment, and decorations. The reason why you want to clean your yard is that you do not want to give the wind more projectiles to bombard your house with.
Have Access To Early Warn Systems
If you live in a high-risk area for hurricanes, then you should get yourself a warning system such as emergency apps.
If you have an iPhone or Android, then you should have access to platforms which will allow you to download emergency apps.
Build a Safe Room
If you have the financial resources and space to build a safe room, then you should. The best location for a safe room is outside your house on your property. You can also build one adjacent to your house.
If you want to, you can also build one in your garage, which will be a haven from hurricanes. You should also store all of your emergency supplies inside your safe room.
Keep a Disaster/Emergency Kit
The main reason behind the emergency kit is to have enough food and resources to last for at least 3 days. You do not want to waste too much time in the long queues in front of grocery shops.
Most people will also not be prepared which will result in a sudden demand for supplies which might result in chaos. For your kit, you will need water, food, a survival kit and also a first aid kit.
Water and Food
- Canned meat such as tuna, pilchards and spam.
- Canned vegetables.
- Canned viennas, meatballs and spaghetti.
- Canned fruit.
- Energy bars and snacks.
- Dried fruit.
- Beef jerky.
- Water bottles (Make sure to have at least one gallon per day for each family member for at least three days).
- Eating utensils such as forks, knives and spoons.
- Plates and cups.
- Manual can opener.
Sometimes food and water will not be enough to survive as nature will throw its elements at you. If you have a dedicated safe room, then I would advise you to place all of the items listed below in a box. If you plan to move out of the city after receiving a warning, you can make use of several bug out bags.
- Protective clothing such as a helmet, gloves and strong boots.
- Hand-crank radio
- Multipurpose tool
- Emergency blanket
- Extra set of house and car keys
- Rain gear
- Extra clothing
- Duct tape
- Entertainment items
- Sleeping bags
- Flare gun
- Waterproof containers
- Fire extinguisher
- Personal hygiene products
- Dust mask
- Cell phones and chargers
First aid kit
When someone in your family gets injured during the midst of a hurricane, you will not be able to go to a hospital or medical doctor immediately. You will have to wait out the storm which means you need to keep the person injured alive for that time being.
The best thing that you can do is to create or buy a first aid kit and keep it somewhere safe.
- Chronic medications
- Disposable sterile gloves
- Antiseptic cream
- Gauze dressings
- Safety pins
- Cough medicine
- Painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen
- Antihistamine tablets
- Hypoallergenic tape
- Straight splints
Keep Important Documents & Contacts
The very first thing that you need to do is to buy a waterproof container or a bag to store all of the important documents. They will lose their value if they get exposed to water.
Below, I will give a list of the type of documents that you need to store and keep track of.
- Keep an inventory. An inventory of all the goods in your house to keep track of what you might have lost during the storm.
- Personal certificates. Important documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates and death certificates of lost loved ones.
- Identification documents. Personal documents for identification, passports, driving license and social security cards.
- Banking information. Information such as your bank account number, credit card number, business documents ,and contracts.
- Important documents. Documents such as your will, deeds and all of your insurance policies (insurance for floods included).
- Important contacts. Contact numbers such as that of law enforcement, local hospitals, firefighters, weather stations, insurance agents and also that of your family members.
- List of shelters. You might also want to create a list of all the local shelters with their addresses and phone numbers.
Have A Backup Generator
There will be a good chance that the electricity grid might be offline if your house is still standing after the storm. It might be a good idea to get yourself a small backup generator to get back access to power.
Make sure to store the generator somewhere safe where it will not get damaged by the strong winds or water. Make sure you have enough gasoline to run the generator for a couple of days.
It is also best to run a generator outside once the storm has rested. Most generators will have a manual to show you how it works.
Have A Family Evacuation Plan & Route
If you plan not to use your house as a shelter against the storm, then you need to have an evacuation plan for you and your family. The plan will include a designated area with a route included.
You will also a point of interest where you and your family will meet up once the storm has subsided.
Make sure to have a list of all the shelters at hand to find the closest one. If you have an evacuation route, make sure to test it first. You can also run drills to get used to the route.
It will also be best to have a bug out bag ready so that you do not waste time to set up one.
Keep Your Car In A Good Condition
If you are planning to evacuate your home to one of the shelters, you need to make sure that your vehicle is up to par. Make sure that all of the services are done and fix any issues that might put you behind.
Store enough gas at your home to fill your car before evacuation or make sure that the tank of your vehicle is never below 50%. You should also keep a survival kit inside the trunk of your car with fresh clothes and supplies.
Get Flood Insurance
Getting flood insurance is crucial if you live in an area prone to hurricanes or destructive storms. Even if you and your family are safe after a storm, you will need the funds necessary to restart your life.
You should also consider getting insurance for your car. For most people, it will take more than ten years to pay off their home loans and if you do not have insurance, you will lose all of the progress and will need to start all over again.
Make sure to call your insurance provider beforehand and make sure that your property and car is insured against floods and storms.
After the storm, you should also take the necessary photos to have proof of the damage for your insurance company. You should also take stock of all the items that fall under the insurance.
Pet Emergency Plan & Kit
How can you not prepare for your pet? Most people forget to include their pets when they are planning for a hurricane.
If you have a pet, then there are a few things that you can do to make sure your pet is safe and well taken care of. You can start by creating an emergency kit for your pet which will include the following:
- Enough pet food. Food such as canned food or pellets. Make sure your pet will eat the food before you buy a lot of it. Make sure to have a manual can opener.
- Water. Make sure you have enough fresh water for your pet as well. Larger pets will need more water than smaller ones.
- Medications. If your pet is on medications, make sure to have enough to last for a couple of days.
- Litter sand. Make sure you have enough litter sand if you own a cat.
- Pet accessories. Have a spare leash or a harness and an extra bed in which your pet can sleep in. You can also buy a carriage to carry your pet without losing too much time quickly.
- Pet identification. Pets also tend to get lost, so make sure you have taken a couple of photos of your pet for identification purposes. Another method is for your pet to wear a collar which has its name and your contact details. You also have the option to microchip your pet with a veterinarian’s help.
- Take your pet to a shelter. Most shelters will not accept pets so you need to organize for a place for them to stay. You might want to look for local pet shelters and make sure they are suited to survive against hurricanes. Also, get a list of contact numbers for animal shelters.
What To Do Right Before The Storm
In most cases, you will have some time left to do some important tasks just before the storm strikes. You might have a time window that can range from a couple of hours up to a day to get things done. Below, I will give you a list of that which must have first priority.
- Set a deadline. You should know exactly how much time you have left to prepare for the storm properly. You can use your phone to give off an alarm a couple of hours before the storm strikes.
- Track the storm. If you have emergency apps installed on your phone or an NOAA radio, then you should keep listening to it for future updates.
- Start an evacuation plan. Contact family members and start with your evacuation plan to get to a safe location.
- Refill kits and water. Refill your emergency kit and fill empty bottles with fresh water. If you have a bathtub, then you should also fill it with water. This water can be used to flush toilets and also as a reservoir for drinking water.
- Fill your gas tank. If a filling station is close by, then you can fill your car with fuel. If the filling station is empty or there are too many cars, then you should have a spare can of fuel inside your property to refill your vehicle.
- Clean out your yard. If you have any items lying around on your yard, then you should consider taking them into your house. Take in all the chairs and tools that might act as projectiles against your house.
- Move furniture to upper levels. If you have a multistory house, then you should move your furniture to the upper levels. If there is a flash flood, then the first level of your house might be underwater.
- Disconnect your power and gas and water pipes. The pipes might get damaged during the storm and can leak gas or water. You also do not want your house to catch fire or your electronics to fry when a power surge happens. You should also unplug all of the small appliances.
- Recharge your phone and power bank. If you still have time, you should try to recharge your phone and storage bank so that you will be able to communicate with other people.
What To Do During A Hurricane
Now that you have done everything you can to prepare yourself, now let’s cover what you should do when the storm is already active.
Keep Track Of The Storm
It is essential to be updated on the storm 24/7. Sometimes, the authorities will command you to leave your house and go further inland. This might happen when the storm is just too big and ferocious to stay inside of your home.
To get this information, you can make use of several apps that you can download onto your phone. You can also use an NOAA radio or the internet if you have any. You will receive critical updates on the storm that must not be ignored.
Stay Indoors And Away From Windows
The room which has the least windows is going to be the one which will give you the highest chance for survival. If the wind is too strong, it will hurl projectiles through your window which might injure a person. You also have the risk of shredded glass that might fly around and land in one of your eyes.
Hide Under A Table Or Inside A Closet
Let’s say you are in your house while the hurricane has reached its peak and all of a sudden, the roof and the walls starts to shake.
What do you do?
The best thing to do here is to find a large and heavy table to hide under. If there are cupboards in the room, then it can also make a great hiding spot.
Cover The Windows
If you already have storm shutters installed, then it might be a good time to close them. You can also use curtains or some of the furniture to block the windows. If you have duct or alligator tape, then you can also use it to help prevent the glass windows from shattering.
Have All Of Your Resources At Hand
You should never go outside once the hurricane has already started. Instead, wait for a message or signal from the authorities which will give a heads up on the current status of the storm.
Even if you notice that the storm is starting to set, it would still be a great idea to wait for the official confirmation.The reason to wait is that sometimes the storm will play tricks on you. Even if it looks like the storm is quieting down, it might just be that you are in the eye of the storm which gives a temporary sense of false security.
Wear Protective Clothing
Did you know that wearing something as simple as a bicycle helmet can mean the difference between life or death? You want to protect your head at all cost because your brain is the most essential organ in your body. By wearing helmets, you will drastically reduce the risk of a head injury.
You can also wear protective gloves, which will protect your hands against clashes. Wearing rugged boots can also help in protecting your feet against falling objects. Now I am not saying that you should go full-on Robocop, but at least protect your most vital body parts.
Go To The Highest Level Of The Building
If you are sheltering in a multistory building, then you should try to hide in one of the top floors. The danger from hurricanes do not only consist of high-speed winds but floods as well. Hurricanes will sometimes push water from the ocean into the land almost like that of a tsunami.
This event will result in water entering your home where the ground floor will be flooded with water. You should also try to move your furniture to the second level so that it does not get wet.
Avoid Riverbanks And Beaches
If your house is located close to a river bank or a beach, then you should avoid those places at all cost. Beaches will be the first area that will be flooded with water.
Riverbanks can also tumble or get spilled over by water masses which might knock you down. In general, rivers close to the ocean is a bad spot to be because they will be the first to contribute to a flood.
Avoid Flood Water
If you or your vehicle is faced with flood water, then you should try to avoid it at all cost. Flood water does not need to be that deep to know you down or flood your car.
The water can also be contaminated with dangerous chemicals or have sharp objects that might cut you or knock you over. The water can also be contaminated by sewage which is a health hazard on its own.
If your car is surrounded by water, then get out and reach for the highest point. It is not worth your life to try and save your car. It is also advised to stay away from low lying areas which are prone to flooding.
If your house becomes flooded, then you should turn off the power at the main switch. When water comes into contact with electricity, it will become too dangerous to get close to it.
Now the storm has settled, but what do you do now? Even though most of the danger and hazards are gone, there are still things that can go wrong. The worst thing that you can do now is to become reckless and jumping into every situation head first.
Avoid Power Lines
There is a good chance that some of the power lines have been knocked over. If you spot an area where such a line is laying on the ground, then you need to be extra careful.
Even though the power might be off, but you cannot put too much weight on this eventuality which might take your life.
If there are puddles of standing water, then you should not step on it or touch it with your bare hands. Electricity does flow through water and can quickly kill a full grown man. Be extra careful and warn your family members as well.
Watch Out For Physical Hazards
One of the biggest problems with damaged buildings is the rubble that they create. Debris can be in the form of broken glass, loose bricks, metal, and wood. Another thing to worry about is the fact that when something like a wooden beam break, it will leave a sharp edge.
You want to avoid any broken glass or sharp objects. I would recommend you to wear protective clothing such as a helmet, protective gloves, and heavy boots.
Temporarily Repair Your Home
Sometimes a house will be so damaged that it will take a professional team of builders or a handyman to repair. Sometimes (if you are lucky) the damage will be minor.
If you have the ability and tool to repair certain parts of your home temporarily, then you should.
If you wait too long, then other people will start to vandalize your home. Try to fix the windows and doors at least if the building is still standing. Also, make sure to keep all of the invoices and slips so that you can claim the money back from your insurance company.
Your building should then be livable again. Remember that the inspectors from the insurance company will take a while to visit your home.
Take Stock Of Damages And Contact Your Insurance
Before the hurricane started, you should have created a list of all the essential items in your house that were covered by the insurance company. After the damage is done, you can take the list and go through each item. Check to see if the item is in a working condition. If not, make a note next to the item to indicate its state.
This list is crucial for if you want to claim any amount from your insurance company. It is also essential to take the necessary of the damaged items with your smartphone or camera.
If you manage to have the slip of the item still, then you should include that as well. When you have your list, it is time to call your insurance company to get the ball rolling.
Find Temporary Accommodation
Let’s say you evacuated the area in time and returned home once the authorities gave the signal that the storm has passed. Once you reached your house, you only found a large heap of rubble. Everything is gone. Even your walls are not standing.What do you do now?Now is the time to find temporary accommodation somewhere safe. If you have other family members living close by, then you can live with them.
If your insurance company covers temporary accommodations, then you should give them a call ASAP.
Do Not Enter Damaged Buildings
If a building has survived the storm, it might be damaged to the point where it is unstable. If you enter a building that has taken a hit, then it might collapse on you. If you know for a fact that a building is safe, then you may enter with caution.
Another tip that I can give is only to use a flashlight when entering a building while it is dark. There might still be gas leaking and will take fire or explode when it comes into contact with burning matches or candles.
It is also not the best practice to turn on the electricity when entering a damaged building.
Call Family Members
Your family members are worrying themselves to death. Call them and let them know you and your household are okay. Your phone should have enough battery power to call them.
If anyone in your family has experienced any trauma, then it might be a good time to go for counseling.
Avoid Contaminated Water
Remember that the water pipes might have broken which could allow dangerous pathogens chemicals to leak into your water supply.
You do not want to drink, wash dishes, bath, brush teeth and to prepare food with water that has been contaminated. Wait for the authorities to give the green light on when the water is fresh and safe.
Rebuild Your Home Into A Hurricane Resistant Fortress
If you were one of the unfortunate ones which the storm demolished homes, you could just as well build a hurricane proof house in its place. Why should you go through all of the trouble again?
There are many things that you can do to make a home hurricane proof. You can start with the design. It is known that houses with a round shape are more resistant to the strong winds.
You will also need to have a stronger foundation and install rugged beams to support the structure of your house.
Take a look at the video above to have a better idea.
You can also add hurricane straps to the tiles on your roof. If your property is located close to the shore, then you should elevate your home to allow the flood waters to pass under your house.
I have seen from some of the aftermath images that most houses are built out of wood. A brick house built with cement will be much stronger than some of those toothpick houses.
The best option would be to seek out professionals in this field that help with the design and all of the finer details.
Now It Is Up To You
I assume that after reading this article, you will be better prepared for the next hurricane. Have you ever been a victim of such a disaster? Please leave a comment below and share with us your survival story.