Hurricane Disaster Fact Sheet
What is a Hurricane?
A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 74 miles per hour or more. Hurricane winds blow in a large spiral around a relatively calm center known as the “eye.” Hurricanes bring torrential rains, high winds, and storm surges as they near land.
Why Talk about Hurricanes?
Hurricanes can be dangerous killers. Most hurricane-related deaths are caused by floods. To learn about the hurricane risk in your community and your community’s preparedness plan, contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter.
What Can I do to Prepare for a Hurricane?
In addition to completing the 4 Steps to Safety, do the following:
- Get a week’s supply of food and water to be kept at home (in addition to the three-day supply in your Disaster Supplies List).
- Install protection to windows, glass sliding doors and garage doors.
- Clear clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Follow flood preparedness precautions if you live in
an area prone to flooding.
- Have an engineer check your home and tell you
how to make it more resistant to wind.
Watches and Warnings
The National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours. A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected in 24 hours or less.
What to Do Durning a Hurricane Watch
- Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for hurricane reports. Hurricanes can change direction, speed and intensity very suddenly, so stay updated.
- Check your Disaster Supplies List and get any missing items if possible.
- Fill your car’s gas tank.
- Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys and hanging plants.
- Remove any weak branches from trees and shrubs.
- Close and board up windows and glass sliding doors. Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels.
- Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when necessary.
- Turn off propane tanks. Turn off utilities if told to do so by authorities.
- Store valuables and important documents in a safe deposit box on the highest level of your home.
Review evacuation plan.
What to Do During a Hurricane Warning
- Listen constantly to a battery-operated radio or television for official instructions.
- Evacuate if told to do so. If in a mobile home, check tie-downs and leave immediately. Take your Family Readiness Kit and disaster supplies and go to a shelter or your family’s contact home. Call your out-of-town contact so someone will know where you are going.
- If you are told to evacuate, stay indoors. A small interior room on the first floor without windows, skylights or glass doors is the safest place. Lie on the floor under a sturdy object.
- Close all interior doors and secure and brace external doors.
- Have a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Use flashlights instead of candles or kerosene lamps.
- Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, sinks and plastic bottles.
- If power is lost, unplug major appliances to reduce the power surge when electricity is restored.
- Don’t be fooled by the calm “eye” of the storm. The worst part will happen once the eye passes over and the winds blow from the opposite direction.
- Be alert for flooding. If driving and you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. If caught on a flooded road and the water is rising, get out of your vehicle and seek higher ground.
What to Do After a Hurricane
- Continue listening to local radio for information.
- If you evacuated, return home only after local officials tell you it is safe.
- Stay away from flood waters.
- Help those who may need special assistance and give first aid where appropriate.
- Stay on firm ground and avoid disaster areas.
- Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them to the power company, police or fire department.
- Enter your home or any building with caution.
- Wear sturdy shoes and do not enter if there is water around the building.
- Use flashlights to examine walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows. Inspect foundations for cracks and make sure the building is not in danger of collapsing.
- Look for fire hazards such as flooded electrical circuits or submerged furnaces and appliances.
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a hissing noise, open a window and leave quickly. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home.
- Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or frayed wires, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
- Check for sewage and water line damage. If you think sewage lines are damaged, don’t use toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, don’t use tap water and call the water company.
- Watch out for animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have entered the building with flood waters.
- Take pictures of the damage for insurance claims.
- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until local officials tell you it is not contaminated.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
- Use the telephone for emergency calls only.
- Last Updated
- Family Readiness Kit: Preparing to Handle Disasters, 2nd Edition
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.