How To Prepare for a Hurricane like Harvey or Irma

Satellite image of Hurricane Harvey off the coast.So far in 2017, it’s been a bad year for hurricanes. The category 4 Hurricane Harvey started with destructive high winds and devolved into a tropical storm that flooded huge parts of Texas, including much of Houston. Due to preparation, the loss of life has been relativity low, but the property damage could put it up there near Katrina at an initial unofficial estimate of over 70 billion dollars in damages. At the time of this writing, the next US-bound hurricane, Hurricane Irma, has been upgraded to a category 5 (meaning winds over 157 miles per hour). With both of these in mind, it’s time to learn about what to do if you’ve got a hurricane incoming.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Before, during, and after an emergency such as a hurricane, your life will not be normal. Leading up to the emergency shopping lines will be long, shelves bare, and prices may jump. This is why it’s important to plan ahead of time by building a kit. Here are some rules of thumb to start with.

  • Three Days of Food and Water: This should be per-person. A gallon of water is the normal amount a single person should consume. Non-perishable food and a can opener.
  • Basic Electronics and Batteries: Expect power outages. Have flashlights for the family and a radio, preferably one with a NOAA Weather feature. Have plenty of batteries for them. If you can get it, have a battery-operated cell phone charger and backup cell phone batteries.
  • First Aid and Safety Kit: A full first aid kit with bandages, whistle and strobe to get attention from relief personnel, and masks and plastic sheeting/tape to shelter in place. Have personal sanitation gears, such as moist towelettes and garbage bags. Have a local map.

You can find the full list on Build A Kit page of Ready.Gov, including advanced emergency kits with prescription medication, the documentation you might need, and other handy items.

Pay Attention to Local/State Announcements

While you and your family are planning for the hurricane, you’re not alone. At the city, state, and federal level, people are planning too and providing critical information. You can get this by visiting your state’s website, checking out the news, and turning to the emergency station on the radio (NOAA Weather Radio). These can give you instructions on what you should do before, during, and after a hurricane. One of the most important things to know is if it’s a mandatory evacuation, voluntary evacuation, or if you should shelter in place. This knowledge could save your life.

Prepare Your Home

Preparing your home can be a short or a long-term affair. In places where hurricanes are common, special equipment such as hurricane shutters and hurricane roofs are common. Make sure to turn off utilities before the storm and to safely store documents and items like hard drives in waterproof containers. It’s also important to think about getting Flood Insurance in addition to Homeowners Insurance. In Harris County, Texas – which includes the city of Houston – only 15% of homes had flood insurance policies. If you’re interested in learning more about your insurance options and the cost of insuring your home against a hurricane, contact the TJ Woods Insurance Agency, and we’d be happy to help.