What to do During a Hurricane Watch or Warning


How to Prepare for a Disaster, Plan Evacuation, & Protect Your Home

Hurricane season can cause great stress to residents and their homes, but understanding different hurricane threat levels and preparing for storm damage will result in the safety of both homeowners and their property.

Many basic tasks can be done long before a hurricane strikes, like making boards for windows, creating disaster supply kits, and purchasing flood insurance, but there are some essential last-minute tasks that should be done to keep homeowners and their property safe.

What Does a Hurricane Watch Mean?

A hurricane watch is announced when there is the threat of hurricane conditions (winds of 74 miles per hour or greater and/or dangerously high water and rough seas) within 24 to 36 hours. A hurricane watch does not necessarily mean a hurricane will hit the area the watch is announced for, but early preventative measures should still be taken.

What Does a Hurricane Warning Mean?

A hurricane warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected to reach an area within 24 hours or sooner. When a hurricane warning is announced, more instruction is usually given, often including mandatory and volunteer evacuation orders.

How to Prepare When a Hurricane Watch is Announced

During a hurricane warning, many things should be done to prepare for the possibility of a hurricane. Among these include:

  • Checking and replenishing emergency supplies
  • Fueling the car and containers for a generator
  • Securing outdoor objects that could become projectiles
  • Preparing boards for windows
  • Turning refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings, opening only when necessary
  • Storing clean water in bathtubs and jugs
  • Reviewing the evacuation plan.

How to Prepare When a Hurricane Warning is Announced

During a hurricane warning, many things should be done whether a resident chooses to stay in his or her house or evacuate.

If residents decide to ride out the hurricane, they should:

  • Listen to a battery-operated radio for direction
  • Store valuables and important documents in waterproof containers
  • Stay away from windows and glass doors
  • Keep flashlights and extra batteries near
  • Turn off major appliances if power is lost.

If residents decide to or are required to evacuate, they should:

  • Leave as soon as possible, taking the safest route possible
  • Unplug appliances
  • Tell an out-of-state family member or friend where they’ll be
  • Move valuable items to higher areas if in a surge zone
  • Bring emergency supplies and protective clothing
  • Take a sleeping bag and pillow per person
  • Lock home and leave.

Following a Hurricane

Following a hurricane, affected residents should keep tuned to a local radio station for information on the area and when it is safe to return to homes and businesses. Do not attempt to drive until instructed it is safe to do so by authorities; down power lines, debris, and flood waters could lie just around the corner and result in severe injury or death.

If it is safe to do so, help neighbors who might be injured. Avoid loose power lines and report immediately to the local power company, police, or fire department. Remember to think safely before and after a hurricane strikes to avoid injury and damages.