Our mission is to help you and your family prepare for a hurricane, tropical storm, or flood in a safer, faster and more economically way
I'm pleased to announce my new book:
Hurricane Preparedness for the Home and Family
This book covers all the topics on this website, but in significantly greater detail! It includes in-depth guidance on how to prepare your home, auto, children, and pets for a hurricane, tropical storm, or flood. The content is based on my experience teaching the subject since 2005, as well as interviews I've conducted and conversations with numerous experts in various fields.
If you live along one of the coastal areas prone to hurricanes, then hopefully you've taken time to make preparations in case a storm heads in your direction. Whether you're a seasoned coastal veteran, or just getting started for the first time, the material on this web site should help you with your hurricane and general emergency preparedness.
For those who live in hurricane-prone areas, one of the most dangerous things that person can do is procrastinate hurricane preparations. If you don't believe you can get killed trying to buy a few gallons of gas, withdraw some cash from an ATM, or get the last loaf of bread in a store right before a hurricane, then you've not witnessed the outrageous behavior that occurred in Harris County before Hurricane Rita. Though most of the residents were orderly, law abiding citizens, there were numerous reports of hot tempers and desperate actions all across the area. By having your supplies ahead of time and keeping your vehicle's gas tank at least half full, you can greatly reduce your stress and chance of running into danger before the storm even arrives.
Unfortunately, there's not near enough room on this website to cover all of the topics related to preparing for a hurricane, tropical storm or flood. However, my book, Hurricane Preparedness for the Home and Family, covers all of these topics—and many more—in great detail. Just Click Here or on the button above to purchase this book.
The 2020 Tropical Forecast
Three of the most trusted season predictions come from Colorado State University, Tropical Storm Risk (tropicalstormrisk.com) and NOAA's National Hurricane Center. It's noteworthy that the NHC is predicting a 60% chance of an "above normal" season. As of late, the predictions are typically pretty accurate. However, what these seasonal forecasts cannot predict is where a hurricane may actually make landfall and what parts of the country may be affected. These numbers are useful for certain entities, such as federal emergency planners, offshore drilling contractors, and insurance companies. However, for the average individual, they are essentially worthless. As W. Craig Fugate, the former head of FEMA stated so well on twitter: "And what will you do differently based on this forecast? Me—I get ready for Hurricane Season every year, no matter the seasonal forecast." At our house, we plan each year as if it will be the year we get "the big one", and stock up accordingly.
Hurricane Preparedness Basics
The main message I want to convey about hurricane preparedness is very simple: Prepare early, test often and stay informed! By preparing early, you can beat the madness and long lines at the hardware, grocery store, and most importantly, the gas stations. You should test your hurricane supplies often, including your weather radios and emergency lights, batteries, generators, and another other supplies, and check the expiration dates on any perishable items. And finally, before the storm, you should follow the local news and the bulletins from the National Hurricane Center so you can adjust your last-minute planning based on the latest updates. This is especially important if you live in a coastal community where an evacuation may have been declared without your knowledge!
As you prepared for a hurricane, safety should be your top priority. Always wear gloves and appropriate footwear when working with plywood, power tools, and climbing on ladders. (By the way, guys, flip-flops and sandals are NOT appropriate footwear!) Always have a spotter when working on a ladder who can point out dangerous conditions, bring you parts and tools, or call for help if you should fall.
Preparing Your Home
Whether in a house or apartment, you should prepare for high winds and the possibility of flooding. Those living along the coastal areas should follow the advice of local officials and the National Weather Service regarding evacuation orders. Keep in mind that storm surge is the leading cause of death in most hurricanes.
Pandemic Impacts on You Hurricane Preparedness
Preparing for a hurricane under the best of circumstances can be time-consuming, frustrating, and sometimes a bit hazardous. Preparing for a hurricane during a pandemic can only make a bad situation worse. People who you could normally count on to assist you may be unavailable, products may be in short supply, and lead times on essential materials may be many times longer than usual.
In order to help mitigate some of these risks, you should begin your hurricane preparedness much earlier than normal. Give yourself plenty of lead time and don't wait until the last minute to either obtain products you need or to begin making preparations around your home. Tasks such as cutting for hurricane shutters is a very time consuming, and you should begin all of these activities as soon as possible.
When undertaking these dangerous activities, you should always wear your personal protective equipment (gloves, safety glasses, etc.). It's never good to end up in an emergency room due to an accident, but a trip to the ER during the pandemic could be especially risky. So exercise extreme care when readying your home, be especially careful on ladders or working at elevated locations, and always have a spotter/helper nearby.
Number of Storms per 100 Years
The Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1st, and runs through November 30th. Though hurricanes can occur outside the "official window", activity typically begins in earnest around early August and starts to wind down around late October. The statistical peak of hurricane season is September 10th. On that day, there is a 50% chance there will be a hurricane somewhere in the Atlantic.
The graphic below, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration illustrates the typical number of storms per 100 years. However, just because certain months appear to have a low number of storms, that doesn't mean NO storms! So from June 1 through the end of November (and sometimes beginning a bit earlier and ending a bit later), always keep your guard up and monitor the news outlets for any tropical activity.
Sample Hurricane Preparedness Action Plan
Perhaps the most important step in preparing for hurricane season is the creation of a Hurricane Preparedness Action Plan. This plan describes each task that must be completed before the arrival of a hurricane, along with the priority of the task, an estimate of how long it will take to complete the task, and the person responsible for performing the task. I prefer to put this plan into a spreadsheet to make it easier to modify and sort, but even a notepad and pencil are betting than nothing.
This list should be completed with the input from every person in the home who will be performing these tasks so they may have input. This also allows everyone in the family to discuss why the tasks are being done, and how they should be performed.
Obviously, both the sample Hurricane Preparedness Action Plan and the Hurricane Preparedness Shopping List should be adapted to your personal needs.
Sample Hurricane Preparedness Shopping List
The next list that should be assembled is the Hurricane Preparedness Shopping List. This is a simple, prioritized list of all the items you think you will need to get through a hurricane, tropical storm, or flood event. Even if you have a generator to run your refrigerator or freezer, you should probably plan to stock up primarily on non-perishable items in case your generator fails or you run out of gas.
At our house, and based on how long it took for service to return to normal after Hurricanes Ike and Harvey, we stock the shelves with food, drink, and snacks for at least ten days. Even after the stores reopen, you can expect long lines and shortages of many of your favorite products. By stocking up on the items we normally consume, if we don't need everything we purchased for the hurricane, we just keep it on the shelves for future use. This minimizes waste and allows us to have a bit of a buffer for future emergencies.