By now most people who live in hurricane zones know that they need to have a supply of emergency water and food stockpiled (whether they actually stockpile this is another matter).
However, when talking about hurricane preparedness, a lot of essentials get completely overlooked.
Truth: You Aren’t As Prepared As You Think
Many people of coastal towns think that they have done a good job of preparing for a hurricane. But, in reality, they often haven’t done more than stock up some non-perishable foods.
Unless you plan on making a floatation device out of your boxes of Cheerios, this isn’t going to save your life!
Disaster planning requires a multifaceted approach. If you want to really be ready to survive a hurricane, then you need to ask yourself questions like:
- How will my family and I evacuate? Where will we go?
- What will we eat and drink during and after the hurricane?
- How will we go to the bathroom? (the plumbing won’t be working during a flood!)
- How will we treat injuries?
- How will we stay clean?
- How will we pay for cleanup and restoration after the hurricane?
If you can’t answer all of these questions, then you aren’t prepared to survive a hurricane!
Truth: Most Hurricane Deaths Occur Are Avoidable
Even though hurricane winds are above 74 mph, it isn’t the wind which kills most people. It isn’t even drowning which kills most people.
The majority of deaths from hurricanes occur because people did something careless.
Or they did something downright stupid. Like taking a “walk” to the coast to see how big the waves are.
For example, during Hurricane Sandy, 8% of deaths were due to carbon monoxide poisoning. This occurred when people used generators in their homes, but without proper venting or a carbon monoxide detector. Use of propane heaters and lamps can also cause carbon monoxide.
Some common “careless” causes of death in the aftermath of hurricanes include:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Electrocution from touching downed power lines
- Drowning in car because attempted to drive through flood water
- Falling off roofs during cleanup
How to Survive a Hurricane: What You Should Do
FEMA has a decent guide on what to do to survive a hurricane. However, here is the more in-depth guide on how to survive a hurricane so you can be ready.
Click the links to learn more about the steps.
Preparation Steps before the Hurricane
- Stockpile emergency food and water
- Stockpile emergency supplies
- Gather evacuation documents
- Make an evacuation bag
- Learn how to turn off the gas, electricity and water safely (and teach everyone on the family)
- Create an emergency communication plan with your family
- Create an evacuation plan (plan where you will go and map out routes)
- Get a generator and learn how to use it safely
- Get hurricane insurance if you can afford it
- Install a flood water pump
- Put equipment higher up in your house (such as moving breakers from the basement to the first floor)
- Reinforce your doors and latches
- Install wooden storm shutters on windows
- Install sturdier shingles on roofs
- Buy a reliable inflatable raft and life jackets
Steps When a Hurricane Watch is in Place
- Bring in all outdoor furniture
- Check your survival supplies. Fill up more water if you need to.
- Listen to the news of the hurricane.
Steps When Hurricane Warning is in Place
- Evacuate! Do NOT wait until it is too late. And do not wait until an evacuation order has been issued. By then, the traffic will be very bad.
- Board up windows and doors with plywood. Tape will not protect windows.
- If you cannot evacuate, then get into a safe room in the house.
- Turn off the electricity and gas at the mains.
- Do not look out windows or go outside
- Do not drive. If you must drive, do not drive through water. Just 6 inches of water can carry away a vehicle.
- Do not use candles or unprotected flames during the hurricane
Steps After the Hurricane Has Passed
- Do not exit until authorities say the threat is over. The sudden calm might just be the eye of the storm.
- Stay out of rooms which could be hit by falling branches
- Do not drink water without sanitizing it first. Sanitation facilities don’t work during power outages. Listen to hear if “boil alerts” are in place. Read how to purify water.
- Use text messages only to contact loved ones. Do not tie up the phone lines as these are needed for emergency calls.
- Do not walk through flood water in your home. Many drowning deaths occur from slip-and-fall accidents.
- Do not walk through flood water outdoors. It is often contaminated with sewage, or may be electrified from downed power lines.
- Do not perform any repairs unless you are 100% you can do it safely.
Extra Tips and Info
Here are some tips to help you survive a hurricane that you absolutely must know, but they probably forgot to warn you about!
1. There Will Be S*it Everywhere
Hurricanes bring flooding. Flooding means water treatment centers overflow. That means SEWAGE overflows into the streets.
Sewage isn’t just disgusting. It is dangerous. The dirty flood water brings about bacterial, viral, parasitic, and mold-related diseases. The flood water can also lead to vector-borne diseases from mosquitos.
Read more about how to prepare for flooding.
- Have enough supplies stockpiled so you don’t have to leave your home until the sewage recedes.
- Get a sump pump for your basement to prevent sewage flooding, and a battery backup for it.
- Have an emergency bucket toilet ready.
- GET WATERPROOF WADERS! (Amazon Link) If you have to walk through flood water, at least you won’t be directly in contact with the raw sewage floating there.
2. You’ll Need Tools and Wood in with Your Hurricane Supplies
You are supposed to board up your windows during a hurricane to prevent them from breaking. So, obviously, you should have the means to board them up!
Don’t make the mistake of keeping your tools and wood somewhere inaccessible during the hurricane. Likewise, don’t wait too long to board up those windows.
Yeah, the nails might damage your walls – but it is better than dealing with broken glass and rainwater all throughout your home.
3. You’ll Need More Water than You Think
I recommend that you try doing a “No Running Water” drill to see how much water you actually go through. Since most of us aren’t used to going without water, we end up using a LOT of water for simple tasks like washing our hands or cooking.
Even if you are good at conserving water, it is still better to aim for a 30 day supply of emergency water. This will keep you covered in case the hurricane aftermath is particularly bad.
After all, do you really want to stand in line with the masses for water handouts from FEMA?
Recommended Reading: Long Term Emergency Water Storage
4. Have a Communication Plan, Because Your Cell Phones Probably Won’t Be Working
During emergencies like natural disasters, people call their loved ones. This results in a “mass call event.” The cell phone networks aren’t able to handle the overload and calls can’t get through.
That is assuming that the cell networks are even working. A major disaster could put the networks down completely.
Make sure you have a way of communicating with your loved ones in case the hurricane strikes when you aren’t at home.
Here’s an article on How to Make a Family Emergency Communication Plan.
5. Keep Cash, Because ATMS Will Be Down
In a major SHTF disaster, cash would quickly become worthless. But this isn’t the case with hurricanes.
Money still reigns supreme after a hurricane and people charge insane amounts of money for things like water, food, batteries, and other supplies.
Hopefully you’ve done a good job of prepping for the hurricane so you don’t need to buy anything. However, have some cash at home anyway. You might need it to evacuate, and the ATMs will likely have already been emptied.
6. Don’t Use Candles!
Candles might seem like a good off grid lighting option for when the power goes out during a hurricane, but using an open flame for light is a really bad idea.
Try going to the bathroom in the dark while holding a flashlight and you’ll understand why!
If you must use candles, then follow these hurricane candle safety tips.
7. Backup Your Documents
This is one of the most commonly-forgotten parts of disaster planning! You absolutely must have copies of your vital documents ready.
One option is to put copies of your documents on an encrypted USB drive. But this won’t be worth crap if the USB drive ends up in a flood of dirty hurricane water.
So, it is better to keep documents in a waterproof safe and fireproof document bag or keep copies on the cloud.
8. Get Matching Outfits for Your Family
This isn’t so you will look cute together. Rather, if you must evacuate, those matching outfits will make it easier for you all to stay together amongst the crowds.
Opt for bright colors, like bright red matching raincoats or lime green baseball caps.
9. Keep an Axe and Lifeboat on the Upper Floor of Your Home
In the Primal Survivor Facebook group, a woman recently told me a story that emphasizes how important this is.
A friend’s husband marked in chalk on the ceiling where to cut through the roof in case they needed to evacuate. Everyone said he was paranoid and nuts.
Then Hurricane Katrina happened.
If it hadn’t been for his chalk marks, they both would have drowned in their own home! The lesson is that you need to have a way to escape onto your roof.
There are a few companies which manufacture and install them but you could also have a general contractor do it too.
10. Have Your Bug Out Bag Packed and Be Ready to GO!
If there is one major lesson we can learn from past hurricanes and disasters, it is this:
Don’t Wait Until the Authorities Tell You To Evacuate!
By then, it might be too late. The roads will be crowded, and the danger may be already too close. So make a plan on where you will go, and be ready to take action so you don’t get caught in the storm!
What other hurricane preparedness tips can you add? Let us know in the comments.