How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

How to Prepare for Hurricane Season
Category 5 super typhoon from outer space view. The eye of the hurricane. Some elements of this image furnished by NASA

How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

We’re in the thick of hurricane season, which typically runs from June through November every year. Being on the East Coast, hurricanes tend to pop up in conversations about weather and natural disasters, especially in the summer and fall months.

While only a few tropical storms or small hurricanes make it all the way to New York, it’s always good to know how to prepare to keep you and your family safe. 

Here are some tips from NOAA, the National Weather Service, and NYC Emergency Management on how to prepare for hurricane season and stay safe if a hurricane does hit. 

Psst… Here are some back to school tips for staying healthy this school year!

Planning For A Hurricane

It’s best to prepare for a hurricane long before one is imminent. Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to prepare any time of year. 

Know Your Zone

Find out what your hurricane evacuation zone is, which can help prevent stress in the event that you’re asked to evacuate. The city has an online tool to find your hurricane evacuation zone. It also shows hurricane evacuation centers nearby. 

If you live in an evacuation zone, make a plan for where you can go if an evacuation order is issued. Identify friends or family you can stay with, or identify your nearest hurricane evacuation center. 

What to Expect at An Evacuation Center

All evacuees will be accepted at evacuation centers in the city, and will never be asked about immigration status. 

Pack lightly when headed to an evacuation center. Here’s what you should bring:

  • Change of clothes
  • Sleeping bag or bedding
  • A week’s supply of medications and other medical equipment you use regularly
  • Toiletries
  • Entertainment for children

What If I’m Not Ordered to Evacuate?

If you’re not ordered to evacuate, shelter in place. Stay away from windows and stay indoors to avoid hurricane hazards. Stay informed by signing up for Notify NYC and listening to local weather forecasts and other announcements.

Put Together an Emergency Kit

Have a basic emergency kit at home. An emergency kit should contain things like water (typically a gallon per person per day for several days), non-perishable food, a battery powered radio, a flashlight, first aid kit, extra batteries, cell phone with chargers, and a manual can opener. 

Depending on your individual needs, consider adding things like soap and hand sanitizer, medications, glasses and contact solution, infant supplies, pet food, important family documents, menstrual and personal hygiene products, and a fire extinguisher. 

Once assembled, maintain your kit by keeping canned food in a cool, dry place, replace expired items as needed and update the kit as your family’s needs change. 

Make a Family Emergency Plan

Everyone in your family needs to know what to do when an emergency strikes. Sit down with your family and loved ones before an emergency happens to discuss how you’ll get in contact with each other, where you’ll go and what you’ll do in an emergency.

Keep a written version of this plan with your emergency kit or in another safe place. 

Review Your Insurance Policies

Check your insurance policies to make sure you have enough coverage for your home and personal property. 

Know the Difference Between a Watch and a Warning 

Generally, a watch means impacts are possible, and a warning means impacts are expected or currently happening. Here are some ones to be familiar with when it comes to hurricanes and tropical storms: 

  • A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions, including forceful winds, are possible in the watch area within the next 48 hours. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. You should seek shelter or evacuate if ordered when one of these are called. 
  • A storm surge watch means there’s a possibility of an inundation of an abnormal amount of water within 48 hours. A storm surge warning means the danger of life-threatening inundation within 36 hours. 
  • A flash flood warning means dangerous flash flooding is expected. When this is issued, you should move to higher ground, and never walk or drive through floodwater. A flash flood emergency is issued in extremely race situations when a serious threat to life is happening or imminent. Do not travel unless you’re under an evacuation order or your life is immediately at risk. 

What To Do After a Hurricane

If you evacuate, only return home after officials say it’s safe to do so. Once you’re home, drive only when necessary, avoid flooded roads and watch for hazards like downed electrical wires. 

If your power goes out, use a generator with caution. Review generator safety, and never use a portable generator inside your home or garage.