Hurricane Safety Tips: What to Do Before, During and After a Hurricane
Ensuring the safety of you and your family should be your first priority in preparing for a hurricane. Knowing the risks you may face and how to deal with them — ideally in advance — can save lives. It can also protect your property and reduce the hassle you experience after the storm has passed.
When a major hurricane hits, the damage to utilities can be severe. Even smaller storms can wreak havoc on power and gas lines caused by wind and falling tree limbs. Thinking about gas and electricity should be on the top of your hurricane preparation priority list.
We’ve compiled these hurricane safety tips to help you prepare when one is headed your way, along with advice on how to stay safe during a hurricane and after the storm.
What should you do when a hurricane is coming?
When forecasts predict a hurricane is coming your way, take the warning seriously and prepare. While hurricane tracking has become more sophisticated, storm paths can change in minutes. Don’t make the mistake of doing nothing and hoping the hurricane will pass you by.
Most of these safety precautions for hurricanes take little time and effort — and the costs are worth it.
Stay informed. When conditions and risks are changing fast, access to good information is vital. Local television, radio and internet news stations are helpful. The National Hurricane Center provides constantly updated information without the distractions of advertising and hype.
Make a list of the emergency numbers for your utility providers. If the storm knocks out power or disrupts gas service, those numbers will come in handy. Make sure you know who your energy provider is. Know where your fuse box and gas meter are, and clear out anything that might block access.
Create a family emergency plan. Include ways to meet up, your evacuation checklists and destinations, critical phone numbers, and how you’ll communicate if power and cell phone services fail. These hurricane emergency planning forms can help you think through the details of your plan.
Assemble a hurricane emergency kit. Be ready in advance of a storm with your emergency kit so you won’t be caught waiting in long lines of panicked people for scarce supplies. You can prepare for the specific needs of your family, which may differ if you have pets, people with special needs or nowhere to go. Also consider making a hurricane preparedness checklist so you don’t forget anything during a stressful time.
Guard against power surges. When the electricity comes back after an outage, you could experience damaging power fluctuations. Plug major appliances and sensitive electronics like smart devices into surge protectors or separate grounded circuits. Alternatively, turn off breakers or unplug these items from wall outlets altogether to isolate them from surges.
Tip: The improper use of portable generators creates a fire hazard, increases the risk of electrocution or can emit deadly carbon monoxide. Do not use these devices inside your house or even partially enclosed spaces — and that includes your garage. This is a good time to install new or test existing carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms.
Anticipate flooding. Disconnect your electronic devices and appliances and consider moving them to a higher floor, if possible, to prepare for floods. Listen to local authorities in case you’re instructed to turn off your electricity. You can do so at the circuit breaker.
Tip: Keep appliances and electronic devices at least 10 feet above a potential high-water mark.
What should you do during a hurricane?
The following hurricane safety tips include advice for how to stay safe during a hurricane. Knowing what to do during a hurricane not only keeps you and your loved ones safe but also allows emergency responders to help others.
Stay inside. If you haven’t gotten orders to evacuate and you know your home is safe from wind or flood risks, sheltering in place is the best option. Don’t drive or go outdoors during the storm. Avoid being near windows and stay in the strongest part of your home.
Be prepared to evacuate if the order comes. Have a go bag of necessities packed and make provisions for people with special needs and your pets.
Monitor emergency information. Television and the internet are not always available, so consider buying a small battery-powered or hand-crank radio.
If you must evacuate, don’t delay. Getting an early start is one of the best tips for how to stay safe during a hurricane. You can avoid congestion and get out of harm’s way faster.
If you haven’t done so already, unplug your appliances and turn off your circuit breakers. Disconnect natural gas appliances. Don’t forget to take care of outdoor equipment like gas grills and pool heaters.
If you have natural gas appliances in your home, Atlanta Gas Light recommends you take the following steps during an emergency like a hurricane or major storm:
LOOK for plants or other vegetation that’s changed color, dirt blowing around or water that’s continuously bubbling in the area you know a gas line is buried.
LISTEN for the hiss of gas escaping.
SMELL for a bad odor. For safety, natural gas is made to smell like rotten eggs.
Tip: If you do smell gas or an odor, don’t turn off your natural gas at the meter. Instead, you should leave the immediate area and call your local utility provider.
What should you do after a hurricane has passed?
Staying safe requires knowing more than what to do during a hurricane. You also need to know what to do after the storm. That’s when most storm-related injuries occur. You’ll want to consider the following hurricane safety tips:
Monitor media. Listen to authorities for emergency information updates.
Report downed power lines or gas leaks. If you see dangerous situations, alert emergency services or call utility emergency hotlines.
Don’t drive or go outside unless you can’t avoid it. Downed power lines can still be live, and gas leaks or falling trees remain a hazard.
Don’t rush home. If you have evacuated, stay away until you get an all-clear that it’s safe to return home.
Get professional help. You may want to evaluate damage to your home right away, but it’s best to wait until a qualified technician can inspect your utilities and appliances. Don’t touch electrical equipment or any devices plugged into an outlet until a professional has done an inspection.