How to Protect Yourself in a Hurricane

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A hurricane is a type of tropical storm that arises in the southern Atlantic or eastern Pacific Ocean off the coasts of the United States, Mexico or the Caribbean islands. With wind speeds reaching 250 kilometers (155 miles) per hour, these storms can cause catastrophic property and personal damage. Learning to protect yourself from a hurricane is essential if you live in susceptible areas, notably the southeastern United States.

Preparing for the Worst

    Verify that your home is up to building codes and that you are safe taking shelter there during a hurricane; alternatively, move to a municipal hurricane shelter.

    Monitor weather reports closely so that you know when you and your family can expect the most intense wind and rain.

    Stock up on basic necessities, such as food, water and dry clothing. Keep a flashlight, batteries, portable lanterns and a portable radio handy.

    Know your escape routes, and plan an emergency meeting place for you and your family members.

    Move objects in the yard, such as patio furniture, that may become airborne into a garage or other out-of-harm's-way storage area.

    Install storm shutters over your windows, or board up vulnerable windows with 5/8-inch plywood.

During the Storm

    Remain indoors. Only in the event of a dire emergency, such as a fire, should you venture outside.

    Keep curtains and blinds closed and stay away from glass windows and doors.

    Turn off electricity if so instructed.

    Make sure you have a way to get into an attic if you are on the first floor of a house, and make sure to have a hatchet or some other means of getting out of the attic to the roof in case the water level goes that high, especially if you live in a low-lying area.

    Continue to monitor the weather reports on your radio for updates.

In the Aftermath

    Stay alert for continued rainfall and local flooding even if the bulk of the storm appears to be over.

    Avoid driving and stay off the streets in general unless you have compelling reasons to use them.

    Watch for downed power lines, some of which may be "live" and present an electrocution hazard.

    Inspect your home for damage and take photos for purposes of supporting insurance claims you may file.

    Check the U.S. government's Federal Emergency Management Agency website for information about longer-term housing and other needs.

    Tips

    • Learn the elevation level of your property and whether your land may be subject to flooding so that you can plan the feasibility of staying at home versus evacuating to higher ground. Solar-powered and hand-crank emergency equipment, such as hand-crank cell phone chargers and solar battery chargers, can be very handy when the power is out.

References

About the Author

Michael Crystal earned a Bachelor of Science in biology at Case Western Reserve University, where he was a varsity distance runner, and is a USA Track and Field-certified coach. Formerly the editor of his running club's newsletter, he has been published in "Trail Runner Magazine" and "Men's Health." He is pursuing a medical degree.

Photo Credits

  • Harvepino/iStock/Getty Images

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