Hurricane Safety: Before, During and After the Storm

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Hurricanes are a serious menace. With high winds, heavy rainfall and flooding, a hurricane can inflict significant damage to buildings and threaten your safety. To reduce your risk, it's important to be prepared and take action during and after the storm.

Before the storm

Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter to obtain your community hurricane preparedness plan. This plan should include information on the safest evacuation routes and nearby shelters.

Plan your evacuation route. Learn safe routes inland. Be ready to drive 20 to 50 miles inland to a safe place.

Have disaster supplies on hand, including the following:

  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • A portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • A first-aid kit and manual
  • Emergency food and water
  • A manual can opener
  • Essential medicines
  • Cash and credit cards

Get the entire family on the same page. Teach family members how and when to turn off the gas, electricity and water. Teach children how and when to call 911 or first responders, and which online sites, smartphone apps and radio stations to turn to for emergency information.

Protect your windows. Permanent shutters are the best protection. A low-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use one-half-inch plywood—marine plywood is best—cut to fit each window. Do this long before the storm.

Trim back dead or weak branches from trees. This will help minimize damage to surrounding areas.

Develop an emergency communication plan. In case family members are separated from one another during a disaster (a real possibility when adults are at work and children are at school), have a plan for getting back together.

Hurricane watches and warnings

A hurricane watch is issued when there's a threat of hurricane conditions within 24 to 36 hours. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions (winds of 74 mph or greater, or dangerously high water and rough seas) are expected in 24 hours or less.

During a hurricane watch:

  • Listen for hurricane reports.
  • Check emergency supplies and fuel your vehicles.
  • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture and anchor objects that can't be brought inside.
  • Secure buildings by closing and boarding up windows.
  • Review your evacuation plan.
  • Moor boats securely or move to a designated safe place.

During a hurricane warning:

  • Monitor radio, TV or appropriate online sites for official instructions.
  • If you're in a mobile home, check tiedowns and evacuate immediately.

If at home:

  • Stay inside, away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
  • Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
  • If power is lost, turn off or unplug large appliances to reduce power surge when electricity is restored.

If you must evacuate:

  • Leave as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges.
  • Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve.
  • Alert someone outside of the storm area of your intended destination.
  • Bring emergency supplies and warm protective clothing.
  • Take blankets and sleeping bags to the shelter.

After the storm

Monitor appropriate sources for weather and damage updates. Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.

Returning home:

  • Stay away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company, police or fire department.
  • Beware of snakes, insects and animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
  • Take pictures of damage for insurance claims.
  • Contact utilities if you suspect electrical system damage, gas leaks or sewer or water line damage.

For more information about staying safe and minimizing storm damage, see Hurricanes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

For more information about how to stay prepared, please read PSEG Long Island’s storm preparedness and storm safety information here.