Whether evacuating or hunkering down, here’s the key stuff you need to know about hurricanes.

If you live in an area of the country that occasionally experiences hurricanes, you know just how devastating these storms can be. They have sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or stronger, with some having been recorded as high as 195 mph.

At the very center of the air circulation is the eye, inside of which it’s relatively calm. But the strongest thunderstorms and winds circulate in the eye wall immediately surrounding the eye. When you’re in the eye, you know you’re just about to get hit with the ferocious eye wall at any moment.

One advantage in dealing with a hurricane rather than a tornado is that you will have considerably more advance notice to prepare for it, thanks to meteorological advancements. They can also accurately predict the strength at which a hurricane will be by the time it reaches landfall.

The downsides to a hurricane – and there are plenty of them – are that they can be very slow moving and can bring excessive amounts of water with them. They can cause extensive flooding and are often accompanied by thunderstorms and tornadoes, plus sustained rains and winds. Hurricanes can knock out power for days and cut off usable water supplies.

Having an emergency response plan in place in case a hurricane is heading your way is crucial if you live in an area susceptible to these vicious storms. The key to dealing with a hurricane is planning in advance. Having a 72-hour survival kit and your bug-out bag ready to go and knowing your evacuation routes will save you valuable time.

One thing that is impractical to do in advance – but which you should be ready to start executing at a moment’s notice when you hear a hurricane is heading your way – is preparing your home. This involves:

  • Boarding up windows with plywood or installing storm shutters.
  • Securing your roof and siding to your house frame with straps.
  • Reinforcing garage doors, trimming long tree branches and bringing outdoor furniture into your house.
  • Familiarizing yourself and your family with utility shut-off switches and valves in your house in case you need to evacuate.

 

Other activities you should engage in prior to a hurricane approaching your area are:

  • Familiarize yourself with emergency routes and shelters. Print out those routes and keep them in your vehicle’s glove compartment.
  • Make yourself aware of community shelters in your neighborhood just in case you need to use one.
  • Make sure your car has a full gas tank and that important items such as a first-aid kit are in your car.

 

During a hurricane, assuming there was no evacuation order and you decided to ride it out, monitor emergency radio and mainstream media reports. Close your blinds and move your most valuable possessions away from windows, and then stay away from those windows, close interior doors and remain in your home’s interior rooms.

Once the storm has passed, continue to monitor weather reports and try to use flashlights instead of candles if your power is out. If you’re returning after evacuating, keep an eye out for flooding, ruptured gas lines and damaged structures, and be aware that water may have become contaminated. Report any damage sustained by your home to your insurance agent as soon as possible.

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