Watch vs. Warning

  • Hurricane Watch = Possibility. This announcement means that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are possible. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.
  • Hurricane Warning = Imminent. This announcement means that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected.The warning is issued 36 hours in advance. The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.

Before the Storm

Interior Preparations:
  • Verify that vital records are in a safe storage area. Files, records and storage cabinets might be wrapped in plastic for moisture protection. If necessary, temporarily relocate records to a safe storage facility off-site.
  • Inventory hurricane emergency supplies and restock if necessary.
  • Clear all desk and table tops of small loose items.
  • Secure first floor doorways with sandbags, duct tape or heavy plastic to protect interior from possible flooding.
  • Disconnect all electrical appliances and equipment.
  • Box or place any loose papers, books, hanging plants, etc., in desk drawers or storage cabinets.
  • Close and local all windows. Draw the blinds or drapes.
  • Secure adequate cash to operate for several days.
  • If you are advised to evacuate, lock the doors when you leave.
Exterior Preparations:
  • Secure your property. Install hurricane shutters over glass doors and windows or install protective material such as plywood (at least ½ inch thick). Make sure the plywood is flush against the wall and tight – gaps will allow wind to enter.
  • Tie down or bring indoors any objects that might be blown around by hurricane winds (outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans, display racks, signs and any other loose objects that are normally left outside).
  • Remove all outdoor signs, particularly those that swing or might cause damage during strong winds.
  • Secure all items that cannot be brought inside.
  • Remove antennas and loose objects from the roof.
  • Keep trees and shrubs well trimmed.
  • Ensure that all vehicles are serviced and fueled. Determine where they can be stored during the storm.

During the Storm

  • Listen to your battery-operated and/or hand crank radio or NOAA Weather Radio for instructions.
  • If you are not advised to evacuate, stay inside, away from windows, skylights and doors, even if they are covered.
  • Close all interior doors. Closed doors will help prevent damaging hurricane winds from entering rooms.
  • Have a flashlight and extra batteries within reach. Flashlights provide the safest emergency lighting source.
  • If power is lost, turn off major equipment to reduce the power surge when electricity is restored.
  • Stay out of flood waters, if possible. The water might be contaminated or electrically charged. If you find yourself trapped in your vehicle in rising water, get out immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Be alert for tornadoes and flooding. If you see a funnel cloud or if local authorities issue a tornado warning, take shelter underground, if possible, or in an interior room away from windows. If waters are rising quickly or local authorities issue a flood or flash flood warning, seek higher ground.

After the Storm

  • Stay alert for extended rainfall and flooding, even after the hurricane or tropical storm has weakened.
  • Stay off the roads. Drive only if absolutely necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed-out bridges.
  • Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. After the hurricane and after flood waters recede, roads could be weakened and could collapse.
  • Examine the exterior of the building and walls, floors, doors, staircases and windows to make sure that the building is not in danger of collapsing.
  • Begin clean-up, document damages, and contact your insurance agent.
  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone outside quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • If someone needs to be rescued, call professionals with the right equipment to help. Many people have been killed or injured trying to rescue others in flooded areas.
  • Stay away from loose or downed power lines. Immediately report them to the power company, police or fire department.
  • Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights when examining buildings.
  • Check for sewer and water pipe damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.
  • Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out. More information on food safety is available from the American Red Cross. Open in New Browser
  • Open doors and windows to ventilate and dry the building.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency situations.