The time to prepare for severe weather and hurricanes is NOW! Begin pre-season preparations now by stocking up on supplies for your emergency kit, understand your risk, sign up for and know how to interpret weather alerts and have a plan for before, during, and after a storm.
Know Your Risk
While hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms, tropical depressions and severe thunderstorms also can be devastating. The primary hazards are storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.
The best time to prepare is before hurricane season begins. Avoid rushing through potentially life-saving preparations by waiting until it’s too late. Get your disaster supplies while the shelves are still stocked, and check on your insurance coverage early, as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period.
- Develop a Family Emergency Plan: Identify family, friends or hotels that would possibly accommodate your household’s needs if you need to evacuate the area. Identify a family meeting place and be sure to account for pets in your plan.
- Assemble emergency supplies: Have enough supplies for at least three days including non-perishable food, water, and medication. For a full list of recommended items visit - https://www.ready.gov/kit
- Get an insurance checkup and document your possessions: Contact your insurance agent to review your policy to ensure you have enough insurance to repair or replace your home and/or belongings. Home and renter’s insurance do not cover flooding so make sure you have a separate policy for it. Take time now to document your possessions including photos, video, serial numbers and important documents you would need to file a claim.
- Create a Communication Plan: Determine family meeting places and identify an out-of-state contact. Make a hard copy list of emergency contacts including utilities and other critical services keeping in mind that the internet may not be available during or after a storm.
- Strengthen Your Home Now: Trim trees, conduct home maintenance, and ensure plans to endure power outages.
Understand Forecast Information
National Weather Service forecast products can tell you much about what is expected to happen with a storm, including the storm’s paths, rainfall amounts, wind speeds and more. A lot of information is available days ahead of a storm, and it is important to understand what it means.
- Sign up to receive severe weather alerts: Stafford Alert
- Know your alerts and the difference between a Watch and Warning: A Watch generally means impacts are possible; a Warning means impacts are expected or happening.
Take Action When a Storm Threatens
Have a go-bag ready to take things with you if you need to leave in a hurry. Plan for at least three days including all household member’s needs and personal and property documents. Always follow directions from the authorities if an evacuation order or road closures have been issued.
Stay Safe During the Storm
Make sure to stay up-to-date with the latest forecasts and alerts and continue to listen to local officials. Even small changes in a storm’s track can make a big difference. Seek shelter indoors on the lowest level, away from windows until the warnings lift. Following the storm, keep a safe distance from flooded and damaged areas and NEVER attempt to drive through flood waters.
Use Caution After Storms
Dangers remain after the skies clear. Do not let your guard down as nearly half of hurricane fatalities occur after the storm.
- Be careful near damaged buildings watching for downed or loose power lines, gas leaks, and structural damage, including dangerous debris such as nails or glass.
- Flooded roads are very dangerous. It can be difficult to judge how deep or swift the water is or what damage has been caused to bridges or roads under the water. Don’t walk through flood waters either as they contain harmful bacteria, chemicals, sharp objects or dangerous animals.
- Conduct Clean Up Safely: Stay hydrated, wear appropriate clothing, and clean up during cooler hours if possible. Know your limits as strain and stress can lead to heart attacks, heat strokes, and other serious issues.
- Be aware the emergency responders may be overwhelmed and it could take hours or days for them to reach your area. Communication systems may be impacted making phone or video calls difficult. If possible, communicate via text, email or social media.
For more information on preparedness please visit www.ready.gov/hurricanes.
To determine if your home is in a flood zone and learn about flood risk, visit Stafford County's website.