What to do before, during and after a hurricane

What to do before, during and after a hurricane

(RNN) - Even if a hurricane isn't currently threatening your area, awareness could save your life in the case of any emergency.

One of the first steps to being prepared is making an emergency kit. The Department of Homeland Security recommends the following items:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • 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

Here are some other important steps to take before, during and after a hurricane.


  • Make a family communications plan.
  • Cover all of your home's windows, either with storm shutters or 5/8" marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape will not prevent your windows from breaking.
  • Learn the elevation of your property and whether or not the area is flood prone. This will help you know if your property will be affected in the case of flooding.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame of your home.
  • Reinforce your garage doors.
  • Unclog or clear all outdoor drains, rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Buy extra batteries.


  • Listen to a radio or, if possible, TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters and either secure your outdoor furniture or bring it inside.
  • If you're instructed to turn off utilities, turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting and keep the door closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed.
  • Stay in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level of your building or home.
  • Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water to use for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets.
  • Experts warn to be extremely cautious even if there is a lull in the storm. The lull could be the eye of the storm, and winds will pick back up afterward.
  • Note: It is also important to evacuate if you are instructed to do so, particularly if you live in a mobile home. Mobile homes and similar structures are particularly dangerous during hurricanes, even if they are fastened to the ground.


  • Continue to listen to the radio for any updates.
  • If you have evacuated, do not return until officials say it's safe.
  • If you cannot return home for a period of time, text SHELTER plus your zip code (Ex: Shelter 1234) to 4FEMA (43362) to find the nearest shelter in your area. A number of disaster-specific key words are listed for your use in communicating with FEMA. Note that texting FEMA is not a substitute for calling 911.
  • If you have long-term housing needs, you can apply for FEMA assistance here. You also can search for rental housing using the FEMA Housing Portal.
  • Before re-entering your home, walk around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks or any sign of structural damage. If there is damage, take pictures for insurance purposes.
  • Watch for wild animals, particularly poisonous snakes that could have been displaced during the storm and use a stick to poke through debris before walking through it.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, garage shed or any enclosed area because deadly levels of carbon monoxide can build up and remain for hours – even after the generator is shut off.
  • Keep away from loose power lines and report them to your local power company.
  • Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you know it isn't contaminated.

Visit http://www.ready.gov/hurricanes for the complete list. Also, you can download the FEMA mobile app for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices.

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