Like many storm systems, hurricanes are massive systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land, and they can occur along and coast in the U.S. or territory in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The potential effects resulting from hurricanes include heavy rainfall, powerful winds, storm surges, rip currents, coastal and inland flooding, landslides, and tornadoes. They can affect areas more than 100 miles inland and while they are most active in September, the Pacific hurricane season is from May 15th to November 30th. The Atlantic season starts a bit later, occurring from June 1st to November 30th.

If you find yourself in an area under a hurricane warning, it is strongly advised you seek safe shelter immediately. Decide the most appropriate way to protect yourself from high winds and flooding. Try to take refuge in an interior room for high winds, or in a designated storm shelter if possible. If you are told to evacuate, do so. Bearing that in mind, do not walk, swim, or drive through flooded waters to prevent yourself from drowning.

If you live along the coast, take preparation now to be ready if a hurricane comes your way. Be aware of your area’s hurricane risk and sign up for your community’s warning system. You can also get alerts from the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio. Know your community’s plan for evacuation and become familiar with the evacuation zone, the route, and all shelter locations. Additionally, have an emergency preparedness kit stocked with supplies for at least three days, keeping in mind the specific needs of each person and pet in your household. Make sure to include not only food and water, but medications, a flashlight, batteries, a first aid kit, and cash.

When a hurricane is 36 hours from arriving, make sure to keep up with the latest weather updates and emergency instructions. Make sure your kit is filled with the necessary supplied, and you have reviewed your evacuation zone, evacuation route, and nearby shelter locations. Communicate with your family how you will communicate should you lose power (such as text, email, or via social media, since phone lines are usually overloaded). Also, keep your gas tank full in your car and have emergency supplies and an extra change of clothes packed.

Bring in any loose, lightweight objects that could become projectiles in high winds inside (like garbage cans or patio furniture). If you are unable to bring objects inside because it is unsafe, such as propane tanks, anchor them outside. Also, cover your home’s windows. The best protection is with permanent storm shutters, but you can also use ⅝” marine or exterior grade plywood that is cut and ready to be installed.

When the hurricane is less than 18 hours from arriving, charge your phone to make sure you have a full battery in the event you lose power. Turn the fridge and freezer settings on to the coldest one available. If you lose power, your food will last longer. If you are in an area that does not need to evacuate, stay at home or where you currently are, letting friends or family know your location. Close all of the storm shutters and stay away from the windows, so you don’t become injured if the glass breaks. Finally, keep up to date with the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.