When a Hurricane Watch or Warning Is Issued

At Home

  1. Be safe, be smart.
  2. Stay alert. Monitor your local radio or TV stations for the latest news or evacuation information.
  3. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  4. Watch for changing weather conditions.
  5. Gather everyone in the house and review hurricane readiness procedures and your home and city evacuation plan, so everyone remembers what to do when a hurricane is approaching.
  6. Check your Home Disaster Preparedness Kit (PDF), stock up and/or replace missing items.
    • This lists all items (food, water, emergency supplies, tools, clothing, sanitation items) you may need during and after a hurricane.
  7. Remember to get extra cash ($100-150)– ATMs do not work when power lines are down.
  8. Fill your car's gas tank, get an extra can of gas and keep both full in case you need to evacuate.
  9. Map safe road routes inland to higher ground. You may need to drive 20 to 50+ miles inland to locate a safe place.
  10. Prepare the house:
    • Protect windows with shutters, paneling, and other materials.
    • Close all interior doors. Secure and brace exterior doors.
    • Turn off gas and water in your home.
    • Unplug major appliances and shut off water valve to dishwasher and clothes washer.
    • Leave your refrigerator operating and turned to maximum cold and open only when necessary, unplugging when power is disrupted.
    • Fill your bathtub and large plastic containers with water to use later for drinking, cleaning and other sanitary purposes.
    • Lower any poles, antennae, etc. that are outside. Watch out for power lines.
    • Bring in lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools. Tie down objects that must remain outside.
    • If you become trapped in by the hurricane, stay indoors on the first floor away from windows, skylights and glass doors, even if they are covered. Have as many walls between you and the outside winds as possible.
    • Do not use the telephone any more than necessary. Dial 911 ONLY in emergencies.
    • Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container.
  11. If you are advised to evacuate, leave your home as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges.
  12. Remember to bring enough clothing and supplies as if you are camping in the woods with no electricity for at least a week (you can always bring things home). Be sure to bring your:
    • Car Emergency Kit
    • Home Disaster Preparedness Kit
    • Identification, credit cards, cash (enough for two-three days, then you should have access to an ATM), extra set of home and car keys
    • Place the important documents and valuables in the waterproof container

    WHN TIP: The Three P's

    It's important to bring something that comforts both you (a good pillow) and your children (stuffed animal, blankey) when you leave your home. And, remember to bring the three P’s when you leave: pets, pills and pillows.

    WHN TIP: No Pets Allowed.

    Public shelters do not take pets. Refer to our article on pets. If your pet cannot evacuate with you, it should be brought to a specialized animal control shelter, if you can.

  13. If you become trapped in by the hurricane, stay indoors on the first floor away from windows, skylights and glass doors, even if they are covered. Have as many walls between you and the outside winds as possible.
    • Do not use the telephone any more than necessary. Dial 911 ONLY in emergencies.
  14. If you are evacuating, be sure to leave a contact phone number and address and post it in an easy-to-see area. Make sure to tell others - friends, family and neighbors - of your evacuation destination.

Away From Home

  1. Be safe, be smart
  2. If you are in a school, hospital, factory, or shopping mall, go to interior rooms or halls on the lowest floor. Avoid glass-enclosed spaces and open areas such as warehouses and auditoriums.
  3. If you are in a high-rise building, find the nearest interior room or hallway, follow the building’s safety instructions. Stay away from exterior walls and windows. Do not use an elevator.
  4. If you are in a mobile home, go to your nearest designated shelter. Don't know where it is? Try asking a neighbor.
  5. If you are driving:
    • Be safe, be smart
    • Stick to recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
    • If you are caught in your car as the eye of the hurricane is approaching, run to the nearest substantial structure. Do not attempt to flee from a hurricane by car.
    • Avoid driving through a flooded area. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. Cars can be swept away or may break down in moving water.
    • If waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car safely immediately and climb to higher ground, if you can.

During the Hurricane

  1. Be safe, be smart
  2. Stay inside and away from windows, skylights and glass doors, even if they are covered.
  3. Go to an interior first-floor (not a basement) room, such as a bathroom, closet or a hallway.
  4. Crouch down and protect your head by covering it with your hands. Cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (blankets, mattress, cushions, etc.), to protect against falling debris.
  5. The calm “eye” is deceptive. The worst part of the storm will happen once the eye passes over and the winds blow from the opposite direction.
  6. Watch out for flooding.
    • Hurricanes and tropical storms often drop large amounts of rainfall and cause severe flooding, even when they are weakening.
    • “Weak” tropical storms are just as capable of producing heavy rainfall and flooding as major hurricanes.
  7. If you are caught in your home by suddenly rising waters and cannot evacuate:
    • Move to an upper floor if possible or to the roof if necessary.
    • Take the kit that has your papers, clothing and valuables with you.
    • Take additional warm clothing, water, a flashlight and portable, battery-powered or crank radio.
    • Then wait for help. Don't try to swim to safety. After the hurricane, rescue teams will be on the lookout.
  8. Be alert for tornadoes.
    • Tornadoes can happen during and after a hurricane.
    • Remain indoors on a lower level, in the center of your home, in a closet or bathroom without windows. Going below ground, such as to a basement or storm cellar, increases your risk if there’s a flood.
  9. MOST IMPORTANT: Remain indoors until the “all clear” notice is given by sirens, emergency management, or local law enforcement. Be aware that a curfew may be imposed immediately following a major hurricane.
Thank you ...

A special thank you to the first responders, emergency workers, government officials, lawyers, insurance agents and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice. And, thanks to the sites that we have in our Links section.

Last Updated: 5/2009