Last year, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria brought massive destruction to the Gulf Coast. One can only hope that this year's storms are milder, but it's still important to be prepared. To keep yourself, your family members, and your home safe, make sure you complete these tasks in preparation for the 2018 hurricane season.
Know Where to Find Emergency Notifications
Make sure you know how to get access to the NOAA radio broadcast so you can receive warnings from the National Weather Service (NWS) when a hurricane is on its way.
If the NWS issues an advisory, that means hazardous conditions that may cause some inconvenience are on the way. A watch indicates a tropical storm or hurricane is expected within 48 hours. A warning means a tropical storm or hurricane is expected in 36 hours.
Also, download the FEMA app on your phone. The app helps you connect with first responders and locate safe places when a storm hits.
Make an Evacuation Plan
When a storm watch or warning is issued, government officials may order an evacuation. The following tips will help you formulate a safe evacuation plan for the 2018 hurricane season.
- Discuss the plan with your entire household.
- Designate a meeting place where all family members will gather if they become separated.
- Keep at least a half a tank of gas in your vehicle at all times.
- Pre-pack a bag that you can grab and take with you at the last minute. Include plenty of snacks and water.
- Designate a friend or family member who lives out-of-state to be your emergency contact. Notify them of your status regularly.
If a storm hits, you won't have time to leave your home for supplies. So, it's important to have emergency supplies, including the following, on-hand.
- First aid kit
- Extra clothing
- Prescription medications that anyone in your family takes
- Backup batteries for your phone
- Duct tape
- Sheets of plywood
- A three-day supply of food and water
Secure Your Home
Secure your home well in advance of any storms so you're not left scrambling when a warning is issued. Steps to take include:
- Trim trees to remove loose branches that may blow into nearby buildings.
- Bring grills and patio furniture inside.
- Elevate your furnace and water heater to keep them safe in case your home floods.
- Clean your gutters.
- Stock up on plywood and sandbags.
- Close your storm shutters.
- Whether you are a renter or a property owner, also purchase flood insurance if you do not have it already. (Keep in mind, typically there's a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect - don't wait until the last minute!)
Get Your Documents in Order
If a storm does hit, you will want all of your important documents in one place in order to facilitate communications with your insurance company, doctors, and first responders. Gather your family's health insurance cards, social security cards, birth certificates, proof of homeowners insurance, and all other legal documents. Take pictures of each document just in case they get lost or damaged in the storm.
Hopefully, the 2018 hurricane season is a mild one. If you follow the preparation tips above, you'll be better prepared for any storms that do reach ground. For more advice, check out our post "7 Ways to Get Your Texas Home Ready for Spring."