August 24th, 2011
10:36 PM ET

How to prepare for a hurricane

Tuesday's earthquake on the U.S. East Coast shows what can happen when a big event happens with no warning. The cell phone network was overwhelmed, people poured into the streets and social media exploded. I think an earthquake has to be the scariest natural disaster to encounter, because you don't know it is coming.

Hurricanes are a whole different story. With all the sophisticated satellite, radars and computers the world has at its disposal, we know days in advance that Hurricane Irene churning near the Bahamas on Wednesday is heading toward the Carolinas and will likely pound the Northeast over the weekend. While you can't stop a hurricane from damaging things, you can protect yourself and your family by preparing.
Some tips:

Have a portable disaster supply kit – It's important to gather some things before a storm, because supplies may be gone after the storm hits. This to-go bag should be portable, and it should contain:

Bottled water
Food
Blankets and pillows
First-aid kit and any medicine you need

Toiletries
Flashlight and extra batteries
Radio or NOAA weather radio
Cash (ATMs may not be available for several days)
Pet care items

Have a plan

Know if your home is vulnerable to storm surges, flooding and wind.
Have a safe room/area. The safest area may not be in your home, but may be a shelter in your community.
Know the route away from danger. Some communities have hurricane evacuation zones. Have a primary and alternative route.
Plan places where your family can meet in and out of your neighborhood
Have an emergency contact who everyone in your family knows and can contact.
Secure your home. Forget about taping your windows (This will not stop any objects hurled through the air by 90 mph winds). Have plywood custom-cut to fit your windows and pre-drill holes in the plywood for screws. Custom shutters can also be made ahead of time. Also, remove all dead or loose limbs from trees and shrubs on your property.

Stay informed

CNN Hurricane tracker (http://www.cnn.com/hurricane)

Local television and radio stations

National Hurricane Center: Website / mobile site / Twitter

Your local National Weather Service forecast office

FEMA: Website / Twitter

The American Red Cross Online Disaster Newsroom

Ready America

soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. John in Miami

    Another thing. Turn up the fridge and AC to the coldest settings in anticipation of losing power. After the storm, wait as long as possible to open your windows as usually (at least here) it is hotter than hell after a storm. Another poster mentioned shoes–strongly consider boots if your area is hit hard. Buildings fall apart in big storms leaving sharp debris. Many people get injured cleaning up by stepping on bad stuff.
    If you are in an evacuation zone, leave.
    Check this out:
    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ssurge/risk/index.shtml?gm

    August 25, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jeffro

    Climate change deniers are our biggest threat to humanity

    August 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mohsen

      We just have one planet for living. Please help to stop global warming by taming the big corporations

      August 26, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Merlin

    If you use a portable generator, be sure to run a ground wire to earth ground. Don't run it where the exhaust fumes can enter your home and be sure the hot exhaust isn't near dry grass, which may start a fire. Also, avoid wiring it into your breaker box to prevent back-feeding current which may harm or kill electrical service repair folks. Good luck. The American Red Cross volunteers are wonderful people.

    August 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Merlin

    Another few quick tips: be sure your prescriptions are filled and handy. If power is out in a widespread area, it will take a while to get infrastructure utilities back, like water, electricity, grocery and fuel. Be sure you have enough provisions for several days if you intend on "riding out" the storm. Keep a first aid kit handy and if you can obtain one of those emergency radios which have a hand generator, they're particularly helpful for staying informed.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. brenda

    If you evacuate (and you should if told to), be sure to take important papers: marriage & birth certificates, insurance policies, social security cards; prescriptions and jewelry; CD's of your photos (or albums), several changes of clothes; flashlights and bottled water! Take 2-3 days of food & bottled water (canned tuna and boiled eggs are good) and an ice chest with you. In your home: fill up your bathtub and large containers with water. If the electricity is off afterwards, you will need it to flush the toilets and some to bathe. Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the lowest settings. Take your computer, if possible, and a portable radio and lots of batteries to fit it and the flashlights. If you have time, do laundry and take all the clean laundry with you! Also take maps for alternate routes to evacuate and phone numbers of local emergency agencies. Don't forget your cell phone chargers! Good luck! (We are Katrina survivors.)

    August 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dhaval

      Thanks Brenda.. Tips you provided are really useful.

      August 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. brenda

    One more thing! Take as much cash as you can. After Katrina, there were NO ATMs open for over 100-150 miles from the Louisiana and Mississippi Coast and computers did not work at the gas stations over 100 miles away, so it was Cash Only!

    August 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • nups

      Thanks Brenda, your tips are really useful. Be safe and God bless....

      August 26, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. henry

    bring lots of toilet paper for your butts

    August 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DR STEVE RAMSEY( SAAD ISMAIL ) - CANADA

    You also can buy A radio that dont need battery these radios work on crank Handel for recharge and it can give you up to 2 hours of radio and flash light so forget the batteries CRANK radio is the answer and they are around 30 dollars.
    Dont forget your life jacket if you are in area prone to flooding, Try to buy small oxygen tanks if you or some one you know is pregnant, the pressure might drop in these types of weather and she might need it , Make sure your car tank is full and get extra gasoline, get your rubber boots ready in the car, you need a long robe in the car , buy solar flash lights, solar radios, to protect your self and head from flying projectiles you might take your helmet with you.Stay in higher ground away from the flood, and stay in lower ground away from the tall buildings.Try to ask others how to help some of the out doors stray dogs and cats please do that these poor souls needs our help.
    Doctor steve ramsey ( saad ramzi ismail )- okotoks, alberta – canada

    August 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. louisiana maritime lawyers

    to protect your self and head from flying projectiles you might take your helmet with you.Stay in higher ground away from the flood, and stay in lower ground away from the tall buildings

    August 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Marielak Soldanoc

    What a nice YouTube video it is! Amazing, I liked it, and I am sharing this YouTube record with all my friends.

    July 31, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Television sizes

    When I initially commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time
    a comment is added I get three emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Bless you!

    January 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
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