The month of June officially kicks off the summer season, but it also marks the beginning of a potentially dangerous time—hurricane season. We live in an area where severe weather can bring flooding, power loss and wind-damage. Follow these tips to brush up on what to do before, during and after a storm to keep you safe and minimize damage to your home:
- Outline a communications and evacuation plan for your family before a hurricane warning is issued to minimize confusion and fear. If you have pets or any livestock, include them in your plan.
- Create an emergency kit that includes 72 hours’ worth of food, water, medication and any other supplies you may need.
- Bring all lawn furniture, decorations, toys and garbage cans in from outside. Tie down items that can’t be brought in like boats and trailers.
- Fuel up your car. A loss of electricity could put gas stations out of commission until power is restored.
- Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. Plywood can be used to board up windows and doors if your house doesn’t have hurricane shutters.
- Secure your home and evacuate immediately if you live in a mobile home or flood zone.
- Stay indoors and away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
- If flooding is imminent, turn off electricity at the main breaker.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio or TV for information about the storm and evacuation procedures.
- Avoid using the phone except for serious emergencies.
- Do not go outside until officials have issued an all clear, even if the winds have subsided. You may be in the eye of the hurricane and about to face another round of high-winds and heavy rain.
- Stay alert for extended rainfall and flooding even after the hurricane has passed.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines. Report them immediately to your local co-op.
- If power was out for an extended period of time, throw out any food that may have spoiled in the refrigerator.
- Take pictures of any damage that has occurred to your home for insurance purposes.
- If running a generator, place it in a dry, well-ventilated area away from air intakes into the home. The generator should be properly grounded and connected to appliances with proper power cords.
- Report power outages to your local electric cooperative. For more on Hurricane Preparedness, see the National Weather Service’s Hurricane Safety & Resources page at: https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane
Preparing for hurricane season will help you stay safe, potentially saving lives and money. You cannot prevent hurricanes, but you can minimize damage to your home and injury to your family by gathering supplies, preparing your home and planning for a possible storm before the hurricane season starts.
Storm Checklist and Kit
Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life. Once you take a look at the basic items, consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets, or seniors.
After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for at least 72 hours. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- Water – one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
- Prescription medications
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
- Glasses and contact lense solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler’s checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:
- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers
- Replace expired items as needed
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.
- Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
- Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
- Vehicle: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.
Storm Resources and Links
View the latest weather updates from the resources listed below. Also, read about federal and state agencies that may be able to assist you following a storm.
- National Weather Service
- National Hurricane Center
- The Weather Channel
- Homeowners Guide to Lightning Safety
- Preparing for Disasters in Your Home
- National Hurricane Center
- Emergency Preparedness and Pets
- The American Red Cross
- Important Legal Document for Disaster Preparedness
- North Carolina Emergency Management
- How to Organize and Prepare for Disasters