Hurricane season is officially under way, and if you live in certain regions of the United States—including Hawaii and coastal areas along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico—preparing for a hurricane may be especially critical. The high winds and heavy rainfall of hurricanes can lead to flying debris, flooding, landslides, and other dangerous situations.
Use these five tips to make sure you have what you need to stay safe:
1. Have a family communications plan. In an emergency situation, your family might not all be together and traditional means of communication (like cell phone service) may not be readily available. Have an alternative plan in place to contact your family. Follow these tips from FEMA to put together a plan.
2. Create an emergency kit. Strong storms can knock out power for a long time and if you’re unable to evacuate, you’ll need to have enough food and water on hand until power can be restored. FEMA recommends having enough to last for at least 72 hours for all members of your household. Find out what other items to include in your kit.
3. Don’t forget about your pets. Animals are an important part of many families, so you want to make sure they’re prepared for a hurricane as well. That means having additional food and water on hand for them and making sure their tags are up to date in case you get separated. If you evacuate, don’t leave your animals behind. They often can’t fend for themselves during a storm.
4. Learn the appropriate evacuation routes. Knowing the evacuation routes in advance will help you react calmly during an evacuation and help move your family to safety. Follow the direction of local emergency officials and law enforcement. If they tell you to evacuate, make sure you do so.
5. Know whether you live in a flood zone. Hurricanes can cause serious flood damage to your property. If you live near rivers, streams or other bodies of water that could overflow, make sure you are prepared to deal with flooding and have proper insurance coverage to protect you. Learn more about your flood risk and finding flood insurance coverage.
If you’re impacted by a storm, you can also find resources to help you recover and rebuild. Take care of your safety first by finding the nearest shelters, and then you can see if you’re eligible to receive any form of disaster assistance.
For easy access to hurricane information on your phone, download the free Hurricane App from the American Red Cross (iPhone and Android). It will help you track storms, prepare your family and home, get help, and more.