Hurricanes come swiftly, bringing strong winds, torrential rains, and immediate flooding that can devastate a community. If you reside in an area prone to hurricanes, it’s important to have a survival plan in place.
Our experts have gathered their most important hurricane survival tips, covering every stage of the storm: before, during, and after.
Read through our essential hurricane survival guide and make sure you and your family are prepared to weather the storm.
Hurricane Survival Tips: Before the Storm
1. Create a hurricane survival kit
Preparation is key, and it’s essential to create a hurricane survival kit filled with everything you need to survive the storm. Whether a hurricane is on the forecast or not, having one of these hurricane emergency kits on-hand will provide added peace of mind.
Think about what you might need if you are left alone without assistance for several days. Here’s a small sampling of items you might consider keeping in your emergency hurricane kit:
- Crank radio
- Light sources
- First Aid kit
- Water filtration system
- Flotation device
- Chem lights
All of these items and more can be found in the SEVENTY2 survival kit. With all the survival gear required to survive the first three days following a disaster scenario, this emergency kit makes it easy to keep all the necessities on-hand.
Survival experts have hand-selected survival products that can help you handle disaster scenarios of all types, including the strongest of hurricanes. Discover everything included in our survival kit and arm yourself with everything you need to survive the first 72 hours after a hurricane hits.
2. Know what you’re up against
When it comes to hurricane survival, understanding what you’re up against is half the battle.
Hurricanes come in varying levels of strength, and are categorized on the Saffir Simpson Scale, which rates these storms on a scale of 1 to 5. The chart below shows what you can expect from these different hurricane categories.
3. Secure your home accordingly
Give your home the best chance of withstanding strong winds and torrential downpours by securing it to the best of your ability. Use this checklist to prepare your home before the storm hits:
- Install storm shutters and secure them before the storm hits
- Install roof clips to keep your roof securely fastened to its frame structure
- Prune bushes and trees to minimize the risk of airborne debris or falling branches
- Clear out rain gutters and downspouts to prevent misdirected flooding
4. Turn off utilities
If you’re told to evacuate, turn off your home’s electricity to prevent electrical hazards and shut off the main water valve before your departure.
5. Stay updated
It’s crucial that you stay on top of what’s happening as the storm surges around you. In order to safely survive a hurricane, you must be aware of changing conditions.
Use the following sources to keep tabs on the situation in your area:
- Television: Watch local news reports and emergency stations to watch hurricane developments in real time.
- Radio: Pack a crank radio in your emergency kit. Most areas will broadcast important information and updates during hurricanes and other natural disasters.
- Social media: There are regional emergency twitter accounts that provide up-to-the-second updates. This may be a great low-bandwidth, mobile information solution—a necessary solution if you can’t watch television or don’t have access to a radio.
6. What to do if you have to evacuate
If authorities advise you and your family to leave the area, you’ll want to be ready to get on the road at a moment’s notice. Keep this hurricane survival tips in mind when it comes time to evacuate:
- Know your route: Research evacuation routes ahead of time to ensure you know exactly where it’s safe to head. Draw out potential paths on a paper map, and keep a navigation device from Garmin on-hand to help you navigate unknown areas.
- Gas up your car: If there’s a hurricane in the forecast, head to the gas station to fill up your tank—and an extra gas can—to ensure you can be on the road and away from danger as quickly as possible.
- Find accommodations: Make plans in advance for somewhere to stay. If you don’t have a stronghold to head to, research hurricane shelters that may be set up nearby.
Use the American Red Cross shelter directory to find open shelters in your area.
- Emergency kit: Bring your emergency kit and supplies with you when you evacuate. This survival gear could mean the difference between life and death in the event you can’t make it to a safe area before the storm hits.
- Heed authorities: Follow all directions provided by the authorities. These emergency personnel are doing their best to save as many lives as possible, so heed instructions carefully.
7. Learn more about preparation: To ensure you’re ready to face the next hurricane that comes your way, read our post on Preparing for a Hurricane.
Hurricane Survival Tips: During the Storm
1. Protect yourself from high winds and flooding
When a hurricane hits, you’ll need to be prepared to face strong winds and flooding. Keep the following in mind to protect yourself from these hurricane hazards:
- Evacuate when told to: If authorities have advised you to evacuate in your area, LISTEN TO THEM. Grab your emergency kit and load up your loved ones. If you’re unable to leave the storm area, take refuge in a designated storm shelter.
- Head to your home’s interior: If you haven’t been told to evacuate, or you don’t have time to leave before the storm hits, head to the most interior room of your home to safeguard against high winds.
2. Safe places during a hurricane
When winds whip up and rain starts assaulting your city, it’s important that you’re somewhere safe. The following locations provide the optimal level of protection during a hurricane:
- If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building.
- Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
- Lie on the floor under sturdy object such as a table.
- Stay away from windows and glass doors.
Learn more about hurricane-safe locations here.
3. Don’t leave shelter
Stay where you are once the hurricane has hit. Most people that die during hurricanes are caught in storm surges or flood waters and swept away.
- Stay in a safe place: Don’t be fooled by the eye of the storm. Should the hurricane’s eye pass over your area, there will be a lull in wind. This could last anywhere from two to 30 minutes—don’t let Mother Nature trick you into thinking it’s safe to leave your shelter. Stay indoors, away from windows, until you’ve received the all-clear from the appropriate authorities.
- Do not walk or drive through flood waters. Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock a person down, while one foot of moving water can sweep a vehicle away.
4. Don’t use electrical appliances
Make sure you’ve unplugged your appliances before the storm hits, and don’t use any appliances while the hurricane rages on.
5. Don’t take a bath or shower during the storm
It’s dangerous to bathe and shower during a hurricane. If your home is struck by lightning the charge could travel through your plumbing, which could lead to electrical shock. Steer clear of bathing until after the storm has officially passed.
Hurricane Survival Tips: After the Storm
Once the storm has passed, you can breathe a sigh of relief—but don’t let your guard down. There are still safety hazards all around you. Use these tips for hurricane survival after the storm has left your area.
1. Wait for word
Stay put until you’ve received word from authorities that it’s safe to leave your home or shelter, and abide by any special instructions given.
2. Perform any necessary First Aid
If anyone in your party was injured during the hurricane, be sure to administer First Aid while you wait for word from the authorities. Once you’ve gotten the all-clear, take the injured to nearby hospitals for medical care.
3. Report hazards
Report any potential hazards you come across, including:
- downed power lines
- broken gas lines
- broken water mains
- overturned gas tanks
Remember: surviving a hurricane is about weathering the storm with your community. Work together to prevent further tragedy following a hurricane and make sure authorities are aware of any potential hazards.
4. Wear protective clothing
As you clean up your home or assist with cleanup needs around the community, don appropriate protective wear, including gloves, waterproof boots, and long sleeves.
5. Avoid flood water
Try to avoid trudging through flood water as much as possible, as dangerous debris may lurk beneath the deceptively calm surface. Downed power lines can also electrically charge the water, leading to a risk of electrocution.
6. Communicate wisely
Instead of calling family and friends, communicate through text and social media. Communicate through text and social media instead of calls; phone systems are typically oversaturated after a disaster situation.
7. Be patient and stay positive
Surviving a hurricane requires a positive attitude and a great deal of patience. Stop, breathe, and keep a cool head while the storm rages overhead.
Keep these tips in mind before, during, and after a hurricane hits to stay safe—no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.