A hurricane is a tropical storm with winds that have reached a constant speed of 74 miles per hour or more. Hurricane winds blow in a large spiral around a relative calm center known as the “eye.” The “eye” is generally 20 to 30 miles wide, and the storm may extend outward 400 miles. As a hurricane nears land, it can bring torrential rains, high winds, and storm surges. August and September are peak months during the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through November 30.
What can you do to Prepare?
- Portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries
- First aid kit and manual
- Emergency food and water
- Non-electric can opener
- Essential medicines
- Cash and credit cards
- Sturdy shoes
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
- Protect your windows. Permanent shutters are the best protection. A lower-cost approach is to put up plywood panels. Use 1/2 inch plywood – marine plywood is best – cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws. Do this long before the storm.
- Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.
Homeowners polices do not cover damage from the flooding that accompanies a hurricane.
Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
During a Hurricane Watch…
- Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles, and cooking utensils.
- Store valuables and personal papers in a waterproof container on the highest level of your home.
- Review evacuation plan.
- Moor boat securely or move it to a designated safe place. Use rope or chain to secure boat to trailer. Use tiedowns to anchor trailer to the ground or house.
- Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary and close quickly
During a Hurricane Warning…
- Listen constantly to a battery-operated radio or television for official instructions.
- If in a mobile home, check tiedowns and evacuate immediately.
- If at Home: Stay inside, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
- Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy. Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
- If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored.
If officials indicate evacuation is necessary
- Leave as soon as possible. Avoid flooded roads and watch for washed-out bridges.
- Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve.
- Tell someone outside of the storm area where you are going.
- If time permits, and you live in an identified surge zone, elevate furniture to protect it from flooding or better yet, move it to a higher floor.
- Take pre-assembled emergency supplies, warm protective clothing, blankets and sleeping bags to shelter.
After the Storm…
- Enter your home with caution. Beware of snakes, insects, and animals driven to higher ground by flood water.
- Open windows and doors to ventilate and dry your home.
- Check refrigerated foods for spoilage.
- Take pictures of the damage, both to the house and its contents for insurance claims.
- Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
- Use telephone only for emergency calls.
For more information
- Federal Emergency Management Administration 202.566.1600
- Harris County Office of Emergency Management 713.881.3100
- The Red Cross 713.526.8300
- Dept. of Homeland Security 1.800.BE.READY
- Hurricane Evacuation Contraflow Routes Information