Hurricane Preparedness

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Effective hurricane preparedness involves a number of things. It is important to prepare your home for hurricane impacts to limit damage, and protect yourself. Most hurricane damage results from two things, the hurricane surge, which is a rise in the water level and can cause severe flooding, and hurricane winds, which can blow roofs off, shatter windows, and cause debris to fly.

The hurricane surge varies in height depending on the hurricane category or strength. The impact is also affected by the tide level when the surge hits the shoreline. If you live near the coast in areas like Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and North Carolina, the areas in the US most at risk for hurricanes, you need to know how high your house is above sea level to assess what you should do to prepare. If you are within 10 feet above sea level, you are at risk. Sandbags can be used to divert water. Cities and homeowner’s associations in at-risk areas often provide sandbags at no charge. Elevating the house foundation during construction, or building on stilts can help. Also, landscaping features can be used to channel water from from a hurricane surge away from a house.

Hurricane winds also produce serious damage. Often, windows break from the hurricane winds, and once the winds and rain can enter through the window, the roof is at greater risk of blowing off, and the inside of the house will be damaged by water and wind. The best protection is quality house construction. Hurricane shutters or storm shutters can be placed on windows and closed before the storm arrives to protect you and the windows. There are a number of high quality hurricane shutters, storm doors, and storm shutters. Reinforced hurricane windows can help too. If you do not have these and a hurricane is approaching, using duct tape to tape Xs on the windows will help reinforce them. If you have a pool and outdoor furniture and other loose items, throw them in the pool or take them inside so they will not fly with the heavy winds.

In the event of a hurricane, it is likely power will be lost, and it will be difficult to go out to get food. Hurricane lamps should be purchased for lighting. A high quality emergency kit and transistor radio should be obtained. Canned and other non-perishable foods should be kept at the house.

You should have an evacuation plan. Determine in advance where you will meet family and friends, and where you will go, if you live in a high risk area for hurricanes.