Prep for Hurricanes: Storm Safety Checklist
Here's what you should do if a storm watch or warning is issued where you live
As hurricane season drags on each year, many meteorologist warn that warmer seas and will deliver more violent storms. The Eastern Seaboard is particularly vulnerable, but if 2011's Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Irene taught us anything, areas well outside of traditional hurricane country—like inland Vermont, parts of which were crippled by floods from the massive storm—are at risk when residents are not prepared for storms of this magnitude.
Forecasts are never written in stone, of course, but it's good to get prepared. Here are a few important pointers from The American Red Cross and The Weather Channel that could minimize property damage and keep you safe if a hurricane watch (conditions are a threat within 48 hours) or warning (conditions are a threat within 36 hours) is issued in your area.
Track the storm online and watch for emergency alerts for your county on television. The American Red Cross recommends listening to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service.
For more on the Eton American Red Cross Rover Self-Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather Radio (about $50) shown here, visit Brookstone.
Gather and check your disaster supplies and replace or restock as needed. The American Red Cross suggests you pick up at least three days' worth of water and non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries for it, at least seven days worth of prescription medication, a cell phone with a charger, and that you have extra cash and spare clothes at the ready. See a more comprehensive list of supplies for a well-stocked emergency kit at redcross.org
Bring in anything that can be picked up by the wind, including lawn and patio furniture, planters, and bicycles. Close or fold any shade awnings. If possible, uninstall and store them.
Turn the refrigerator and freezer down to the coldest setting and avoid opening them so that food will last longer if the power does go out.
Turn off propane tanks and unplug small appliances.
Head to the gas station and fill your car's tank just in case you have to evacuate. Again, make sure you've got some cash in your pocket, too.
Have a family meeting and agree on an evacuation plan. Planning and practicing your evacuation plan minimizes confusion in an emergency.
If you're in the northeast, where hurricanes are rare, you're not going to find hurricane evacuation signs like this one. Some states have (or are adding) Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finders—like the one at nyc.gov—to municipal websites. Find out what your community's hurricane response plan is. Plan routes to a local shelter, register family members with special medical needs if required, and make plans for your pets.
NorthStar VETS (a 24-hour emergency vet hospital) in Robbinsville, New Jersey, tweeted that they "stayed open during Snowpocalypse, and will stay open to care for your pets when Irene comes to town." So, check with a local veterinary hospital or shelter if you need to.
If you aren't told to evacuate during a storm and you rely on well water, consider cleaning your bathtub with bleach and filling it with water washing up and flushing toilets if the power goes out.
The experts at The Weather Channel advise you not to go outside, even after the passage of the eye of the storm, because it won't be long before hurricane-force winds blowing in the opposite direction resume. Stay indoors and go to an interior room on the lowest level of the structure. Stay away from windows and doors.