Tropical cyclones encompass everything from weak and disorganized tropical depressions to the catastrophic power of category five hurricanes. Even the weaker storms bring heavy wind, flooding rains and rising sea waters (known as storm surge), meaning that anyone living on or near the coastline must remain vigilant during hurricane season. A single tropical cyclone headed your way can cost you a great deal of time and stress; thankfully there are numerous ways to reduce the impact that these storms have on your life and protect your well-being and your property.
Household Preparations to Make in Advance
Prune trees throughout the year and remove any dead branches. Remove dead trees and fallen branches promptly.
Obtain sufficient plywood to cover all large windows on your property. Cut them to size and use a permanent marker to label which piece goes on which window. Drill screws into the plywood that are 18 inches apart. Store the prepared plywood in a safe place until needed, and keep the electric drill handy and fully-charged at all times.
Keep your yard free of unnecessary debris year-round, and have an assigned place to store loose objects (such as trash cans and outdoor barbecues) if a storm warning is issued for your area.
Obtain garage door bracers (if necessary) and practice their installation until you can install them in a hurry. Double garage doors require multiple bracers.
Devise an evacuation plan so that you know what you'll be doing and where you'll be going if an evacuation is ordered for your area.
Preparing a Supply Kit
Prepare a container (or containers) for your supply kit; depending on the size of your household, you may need as little as one box or several large briefcases worth of space. Keep your finished supply kit in a cool, dry, dark place (not in a car) until needed.
Store water to sustain your family (one gallon per person per day) for three to seven days. Change the water every two months. Store canned and other nonperishable foods, as well as necessary utensils. Store several changes of clothing for each member of the household, along with toiletries and necessary hygiene products. Store pet food and other pet supplies (such as leashes and muzzles, which will often be required to enter shelters).
Store a battery-powered radio and several flashlights, along with matching batteries. Store a first-aid kit and copies of any medical prescriptions that you have. Store a traditonal telephone (telephone lines provide enough electricity to power them) and fully-charged cell phone batteries. Store several hundred dollars in cash; credit cards may not be usable if the power is lost.
Store 5 to 10 gallons of gasoline in a cool, dark place. Replace the gasoline every two to three months or use a gasoline stabilizing agent to keep it for longer.
Keep important documents (such as ownership documents, financial records and insurance papers) in a watertight bag at all times. Keep this bag in a readily-accessible place so you can add it to the kit in a hurry if necessary.
What to Do When a Storm Warning Is Issued
Remove any remaining loose objects in your yard and store them indoors or in a secure location outdoors. Screw the precut plywood over the windows.
Store your important documents bag with the supply kit. Move the supply kit and stored gasoline to your vehicle.
Shut off the home's natural gas supply if it has one. Fill bathtubs with water and then shut off the water supply to your home. Shut off each of the individual breakers for your home and then switch off the main breaker. Install garage door bracers, if necessary.
Close all doors within the house. Proceed to your planned evacuation point and remain there until your area is declared safe for re-entry.