Preparing for a hurricane

You may have heard the terms "hurricane watch" or "hurricane warning". The terms have different levels of preparedness that are required and are described below.

Are you ready for a hurricane?
A watch is just that - meteorologists are watching a storm with hurricane conditions that may strike within 48 hours.

A warning is more serious - hurricane force winds (74 mph or higher) are expected to hit your area within 36 hours.

With either type of alert, it is important to be prepared. What you do beforehand can determine how well you weather the storm and recover from it.

Here are some preparation tips:

  • Prepare a survival kit that includes water and non-perishable food for everyone including your pets; a portable radio; flashlights and batteries.
  • Plan your evacuation route and make sure you leave as soon as an evacuation order is issued. Also, please be sure to fuel up your car before you leave.
  • Build a content inventory to document the items in your home or at your business.
  • Make sure you have car chargers for your cell phones and portable devices.
  • Close storm shutters and board up all windows and glass doors.
  • Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside.
  • Bring in gas or charcoal grills, but do not use them inside or even store propane tanks inside the house or garage. Chain propane tanks in an upright position to a secure object away from your home.
  • Secure your boat or move it to a safer place.
  • Fill your emergency generator fuel tank, if you have one, and have spare fuel on hand. Be sure to store generator fuel in an approved can away from the house, open flames and fuel-burning appliances such as natural gas appliances.


As soon as you hear of a hurricane watch or warning, it is important, depending on the type of alert, to immediately begin or complete your preparedness. You can never be too prepared when it comes to protecting your loved ones and your property.

Keep track with our emergency checklist »

Tips to prepare:

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Water damage

Heavy rains have the potential to cause significant damage.

Preparation steps:
  • Close and lock all windows and doors. Remove any window air conditioners.
  • Remove valuable items from your basement or elevate them off the floor.
  • Clear exterior drains and gutters of debris.
  • Repair damaged gutters and downspouts and make sure water can drain away from your foundation.
  • Check your sump pump and the battery backup to ensure they are working properly.
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Roofs

Wind and toppled trees can damage or destroy roofs, siding and exterior walls.

Preparation steps:

Protect roofs by:
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Trees

In a powerful windstorm, trees can be a danger. Broken limbs or fallen trees -- even uprooted shrubbery -- could damage your home, fences, or even neighbor's homes.

Preparation steps:

Routinely maintain the trees around your home.
  • Prune tree limbs within 10 feet of your home.
  • Check for cracking or splitting in trees.
  • Watch for limbs that don't have buds.
  • Remove dead limbs and weakened trees.
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Doors, Windows and Skylights

The roof, doors and windows of your house are especially vulnerable to wind damage. When houses are exposed to hurricane forces, roofs are most susceptible to damage, followed by walls and openings such as skylights.

Preparation steps:

Strengthen doors and windows by:
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Outdoor items

If you are in an area that sustains high winds items around your property that are not properly anchored can become airborne and cause damage.

Preparation steps:
  • If high winds are expected in your area, move all outdoor items possible indoors. For any of those that are impossible to move to protected areas, adequately secure the remaining outdoor items. This should all be done well before the high winds are expected to arrive in your area.
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Exterior Structure

During a windstorm, wind forces are carried from the roof down to the exterior walls and then down to the foundation. Homes can be damaged when wind and wind-driven water is able to get under the building’s exterior walls because proper controls are not in place.

Preparation steps:
Preparedness kit

How prepared are you for disaster?

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