When it's hurricane season
Hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November 30. But don't wait until a warning—take steps to prepare in advance for a potential hurricane—it's the best way to protect your family, your home and your business.
Know when hurricane season starts.
The best preparation plan for hurricanes begins before the first storm arrives. Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1 and runs through November 30 every year. But don't wait until a warning is issued—take steps to prepare in advance for a potential hurricane—it's the best way to protect your family, home, and business.
Take action when a hurricane watch is issued.
A hurricane watch is issued when there is a threat of a hurricane within a 24-36-hour period. At that time, you should:
- Purchase any emergency supplies that you don't already have on hand. Hit the stores early, as items such as batteries, candles, flashlights and bottled water will get snapped up quickly.
- Prepare your yard by removing all outdoor furniture, lawn items, planters and other materials that could be picked up by high winds. Also remove weak branches on plants and trees. Lower antennas and retractable awnings.
- Fully charge your cellphone.
- Fill your car's gasoline tank.
- Jot down the name and phone number of your insurer and insurance professional and keep this information handy in your wallet or purse.
When a warning is issued stay informed and ready.
A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in 24 hours or less, which means a storm is imminent.
- Stay informed of the storm's progress by listening to the radio or TV. Even better, listen to an NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
- Install hurricane shutters, board up or securely shutter large windows and draw drapes across windows and doors.
- Get off the boat—never remain on a boat during a hurricane! Check mooring lines of boats in the water and dry dock if possible.
Be ready in case evacuation becomes necessary
Make sure you are fully prepared with an evacuation plan. Also, remember:
- Don't wait until the last minute—shelters might be full, or the roads might be jammed. If you have pets, consider traveling before an evacuation is ordered. There is a possibility that officials will require you to leave your pet home.
- Take along survival supplies from your list.
- Keep important documents with you at all times, including your home inventory, and make sure you have your insurance professional's name and phone number.
- Take warm, protective clothing for the whole family in case you get stuck for a while.
- Lock all windows and doors in your home. Don't compound hurricane damage with the threat of possible looters.
- Keep all receipts for anything that might be considered an additional living expense (ALE) if your home is destroyed or damaged and rendered uninhabitable.
Take safety precautions if you remain home during a hurricane
Stay indoors. Don't go out even during the brief calm when the eye of the storm passes over, as wind speeds can increase dramatically in seconds.
- Stay away from windows and glass doors and move furniture away from exposed doors and windows.
- Stay on the downwind side of the house. If your home has an "inside" room with no windows, stay there during the height of the hurricane.
- Keep the television or radio tuned to information from official sources.
After the hurricane, be vigilant of the dangers that remain
The storm may have passed, but it likely has created new dangers.
- Beware of outdoor hazards like loose or fallen tree limbs, loose signage, or awnings that are in danger of breaking off and falling.
- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the proper authority.
- Walk or drive extra cautiously as washouts may weaken road and bridge structures.
- In the event of a power outage, throw out food that may be spoiled.
- Boil municipal water before drinking until you have been told it is safe.
Take action if your home is damaged.
Notify your insurance professional as soon as possible after the storm of any losses. If you have to relocate, let your representative know how to contact you. In addition:
- Make temporary repairs as soon as possible if these can be done safely. This strategy will protect your property from further damage or looting; however, keep all receipts for materials used for insurance purposes.
- Get written estimates for any proposed repair jobs and use only reputable contractors. Be especially careful of building contractors who want huge deposits up front or encourage you to spend a lot on temporary repairs. Ask for their references and check with the Better Business Bureau on complaints. Never accept help from a door-to-door contractor solicitation!
- Hang on to your receipts for expenses that will be covered by insurance or will be tax-deductible.
Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness Checklist
Next steps: If you've been hit by hurricane that's a declared national disaster, learn about FEMA assistance.