Emergency Hurricane Procedures

The official hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. It is during these months of the year conditions can be particularly favorable for the formation of hurricanes, which is defined as a tropical storm with sustained winds of at least 74 mph. If you live in an area frequented by hurricanes, it makes sense to be familiar with emergency procedures put in place by local and national governments, as well as to have your own personal hurricane procedure.

Before a Hurricane

The good thing about hurricanes is, unlike tornadoes or earthquakes, you have advance warning that they are coming. If you pay attention to radio or television, it won’t sneak up on you. While storms sometimes make a last-minute swerve before making landfall, you will know it is in the area and should implement your emergency hurricane procedures.

A hurricane watch is issued 36 hours before you can expect to experience hurricane conditions. Your primary task during the intervening hours is to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters are best for windows. Another option is 5/8 inch marine plywood nailed over them for protection. Cut them to fit beforehand. Use straps or clips to secure your roof to the frame, trim trees and shrubs to reduce flying debris, secure your boat, and consider building a safe room for the next storm if you don’t have one.


One of the primary actions taken by government officials during a hurricane is to evacuate areas predicted to be severely impacted. One of your duties is to make sure you are ready for an evacuation. Keep a full tank of gas in your car if an evacuation seems likely. Make alternate arrangements if you don’t own a car. Leave early, follow the recommended route and avoid washed-out bridges, roads and downed power lines.

If Evacuation Is Impossible

Though it is strongly suggested that you evacuate when told to do so, FEMA provides suggestions in the event you can’t:

  1. Stay indoors and away from windows and glass doors.

  2. Close interior doors. Secure and brace external doors.

  3. Close curtains and blinds. It could help protect you from flying glass.

  4. Don’t be fooled by the lull during the eye of the hurricane.

  5. For shelter, find a small interior room on the lower level of your home, closets and hallways are good, and cover yourself with a table or sturdy object.

Ultimately, your safety during a hurricane comes down to three factors; keep a battery-powered radio nearby, follow preparedness and other instructions from local authorities, and have a disaster emergency kit prepared for both house and car.

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