If you've lived along the coast all your life, there's a chance you've been through a hurricane before. However, if you've only just moved into your dream home and you find a hurricane headed your way, you may feel at a loss about what to do.
The first step is to remember not to panic. These are huge storms that can be very dangerous. But keeping a level head and using common sense can help you through the worst parts.
Second, if local authorities call for an evacuation in your area, make sure you evacuate. But whether you evacuate or not, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your family and your home have a better chance of coming out unscathed. If you're at a loss, here are a few essential things to keep in mind.
Though a lot of people may not think about this step, looking over your insurance policy before the storm arrives is very important. Homeowners' insurance usually doesn't cover flooding or damage from named storms, like hurricanes. Looking over everything carefully and getting additional coverage might be a good idea.
You should also look into how much your home is insured for, just in case you lose the entire house. A lot of policies cover the cost of the home but not the cost to rebuild, which is usually more. While you hopefully won't lose your home at all, you'd be better off preparing for the worst just in case.
Secure the Home
Making sure your home is covered is great, but it would be better to make sure that no damage happens at all. You can't plan or prepare for every eventuality, but you can improve your home's odds of making it through. Sealing and boarding up your windows is a good start to ensure that glass and rain don't get inside the home.
If you have furniture or lawn equipment outside, get them all indoors somehow. Renting storage units isn't unheard of during this kind of situation if you need the extra room. Also, take a look at your roof. If you have even a little damage, that tornado or hurricane will find it very quickly. Repair everything that needs to be repaired before hunkering down for the weather.
Get the Essentials
If you have a hurricane coming through and you've decided to wait out the storm in your home, you can pretty much guarantee that you'll lose power. Unfortunately, everyone in your area will also lose power and you'll likely be out for several days. Investing in a generator is an important part of emergency preparedness if you go through these storms regularly and you want uninterruptible power and peace of mind you can count on.
Otherwise, you'll want to make sure you have everything you need in a sealed container that water can't get into. These essentials should include everyone's medications, trash bags, sustainable food like nutrient bars, bottled water, a fully-stocked first aid kit, batteries, flashlights, a radio and anything else you can think of. If you have pets, don't forget their food and essentials, too.
Make a Plan
When a hurricane takes a turn for the worst, things happen very quickly. During evacuations, rescues or underestimating the storm can lead to people getting separated.
Before the storm even comes to shore, get your loved ones together and make a plan for this scenario. Know where all of the evacuation shelters are in your area as well as in your state that are further inland from the storm. Make sure everyone else knows about these locations, too.
During these sorts of storms, you can forget about cellular reception if you're even lucky enough to charge your phone. Have a few agreed-upon places to meet in case you get separated.
Also, remember to keep identifying information on your person at all times, like a license, passport or Social Security card. This way, if you have to go to a shelter, volunteers can get you processed quickly and help you find your loved ones by coordinating with other shelters. Put simply, don't go in blind and don't underestimate the storm.
Get Ready to Wait
A hurricane's severity mostly depends on where the eye is located in relation to you. If you're on the east side of the eyewall, you're likely to see a lot more damage than those on the west side. Likewise, those closer to shore will experience a lot of damage due to flood surge. These storms are very dangerous even once they're many miles inland, producing multiple tornadoes and dumping feet of water.
Hopefully, your first hurricane experience won't be overly memorable. Each one seems to vary wildly. However, you should always be vigilant when one is headed your way, even for a storm that seems "harmless." These things are known for wreaking havoc in one town while leaving the adjacent town nearly untouched. Just prepare beforehand, remain calm and hope the storm doesn't hang around for very long.