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Hurricane Safety Tips

Regardless of when they form and the geographic location they hit, hurricanes leave a path of destruction for everyone to repair. In situations like these, the only thing we can do is make sure we prepare for the hurricane before it arrives.

Planning ahead can help survivors feel better prepared. Having what we need to take care of ourselves, our loved ones and homes reduces the amount of stress in the emergency.

Get your family prepared in three key steps:

Build a Kit

Families and individuals need to consider their specific needs to ensure they have the right supplies to manage by themselves during the first 10 days following a disaster.

  • Store a gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation. In case your water supply runs out, pre-identify safe sources of water, use water filters or boil water if you are unsure about its cleanliness. Have disposable cups available and remember to clean the water containers after using them.
  • Gather a 10-day supply of non-perishable foods for each person in the household. Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention as will babies, toddlers and the elderly. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula. Part of the grocery shopping for the 10 days of supplies should include cleaning products for our homes as well as ourselves.
  • Canned dietetic foods, juices and soups may be helpful for ill or elderly people.
  • Have enough hand sanitizer, antibiotic ointment, hygienic products, diapers and wipes available for children and older adults.
  • Make sure to have food and water for your pet. Be sure your pet is wearing a collar with updated identification tags with the pet’s name, owner’s name, address and phone number.
  • Have at hand a favorite toy, stuffed animal, books and coloring book and crayons for the younger members of the family.

Make a Family Communications Plan

As roads may be impassable and cell phone service may be disrupted, identify alternate ways of staying in touch with loved ones.

  • Choose an out of town friend or relative as a point of contact.
  • Decide on a meeting place in case you cannot return home.
  • Keep important documents and phone numbers with you at all times.
  • Ensure children are included in preparedness conversations and make sure they have emergency contacts memorized or saved in a secure place.
  • Identify the closest shelter in case you are ordered to leave your home, and let your family know its location.

Stay Informed

Listen for the most up-to-date information before, during and after a disaster.

  • Local media will provide evacuation orders, details about evacuation routes and shelter locations.
  • Make sure your battery-powered radio is working and you have extra batteries.
  • Download the CodeRed App to receive severe weather alerts, safety tips and much more. Stay updated with weather-related alerts from the U.S. National Weather Service.

This is the time to inform ourselves and prepare to act. When we have everything that we need we are ready, and that helps us maintain our well-being. If you or someone in your family is experiencing issues with disaster-related stress, call Línea PAS at 800-981-0023, TTY 888-672-7622.

Have 10 Days Worth of Supplies

Survivors should prepare with essential supplies for at least 10 days. That means having enough food, water and other commodities to sustain the household.

A basic emergency supply kit includes:

  • Water – a gallon per person per day, for drinking and sanitation, or 10 gallons per person
  • Food – at least a 10 day supply of non-perishable food per person
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Pet food and extra water
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and paper towels
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Propane gas
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights or solar lamps
  • Cash in large and small bills
  • Important family documents

Secure Your Home

Evaluate the risk if you decide to stay in your home. Are you in a special flood hazard area? Can your home withstand strong winds?

  • Re-evaluate our homeowners and flood insurance policies
  • Secure or reinforce windows and doors
  • Seal and secure the roof and make sure it is in good condition
  • Trim branches and trees
  • Store flammable materials in a secure place
  • Secure solar panels, satellite dishes and water systems with anchors
  • Check and clean drain system
  • In case of storms, move car to higher ground if in a flood zone
  • Remove any debris around the house
  • Secure outdoor furniture, tools and equipment

Visit the National Flood Insurance Program to learn more about flood insurance.

You can find more information about Hurricane Safety by visiting Ready.gov.

National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month (NPM), recognized each September, provides an opportunity to remind us that we all must prepare ourselves and our families now and throughout the year. This NPM will focus on planning, with an overarching theme: Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.   

Take time to learn lifesaving skills − such as CPR and first aid, check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards you may face, such as flood, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Make sure to consider the costs associated with disasters and save for an emergency. Also, know how to take practical safety steps like shutting off water and gas.

Make an Emergency Plan

  • Disasters don’t plan ahead. You can. Make an emergency plan today & practice it.
  • Preparing your family for an emergency is as simple as a conversation over dinner. Get started with these helpful tips
  • Does your family have a fire escape plan? Make one today & practice two ways out of every room. 
  • Practice your fire escape plan by having a home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the home. 
  • Download a group texting app so your entire crew can keep in touch before, during & after an emergency. 
  • Practice evacuating in the car with your animals, so they’re more comfortable if you need to evacuate in an emergency.
  • Disasters don't plan ahead, but you can prepare now.  Get the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app with weather alerts for up to 5 locations. 
  • Sign up for local emergency alerts in your area by searching online. 
  • Contact your water and power companies to get on a “priority reconnection service” list of power-dependent customers if you rely on electrical medical equipment. 
  • Find out if laws in your state permit pharmacists to dispense a 30-day refill of medications in an emergency.

Learn Life Saving Skills

  • Keep your family safe. Install natural gas detectors throughout your house.
  • Commit to learning and sharing life-saving emergency skills with the Until Help Arrives training 
  • What’s deadly, colorless, and odorless? Carbon monoxide. Protect your family by installing a carbon monoxide detector 
  • Do you know how to turn off the gas in your home? Learn how to in case you ever have a gas emergency in your home. 
  • Be prepared for a power outage by having enough food, water, & meds to last for at least 72 hours.
  • Whether you need batteries for your remote or flashlight, always make sure you have spare batteries handy in an emergency.
  • Never use candles for emergency lighting. Use flashlights and stock up on extra batteries. 
  • Do you have emergency supplies? Get ahead of the next storm or wildfire by making sure you’re ready in case you are asked to leave your home.
  • Replace all home smoke alarms when they are 10 years old. 
  • Put smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them monthly. 
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from your stove top. 
  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from your furnace, water heater, and other heat-generating equipment. 
  • Have chimneys and vents cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year to prevent home fires. 
  • Practice how to “Drop down onto your hands and knees. Cover your head and neck with your arms. Hold on to any sturdy covering until the shaking stops during an earthquake."
  • Do you know what to do when an emergency happens? Learn actions to save a life Until Help Arrives.
  • Giving CPR to a person struck by lightning can save their life. Learn how to perform Hands-Only and how to use an AED to prepare for a health emergency. 

Check Your Coverage

  • Flooding can be an emotionally and financially devastating event.  Just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in damage to your home. 
  • Approximately 80% of households impacted by Hurricane Harvey did not have flood insurance. Don’t become a statistic. Learn more about your flood risk.
  • Most homeowners’ and renters’ insurance does not cover flood damage.
  • Snap photos of important documents and personal belongings to help you quickly file a claim after a flood.
  • Hurricanes bring heavy rains that may cause flooding. Think about buying flood insurance before the storm. 
  • Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S.  Are you protected?  Check your insurance policy today 
  • 30 Days: The number of days it takes for most flood insurance policies to go into effect. Don’t wait until it’s too late! 
  • Anywhere it rains, it can flood.  Learn more about how flood insurance can help protect the life you’ve built. 
  • Find out if you live in a flood prone area and how flood insurance can lessen the cost to your family by visiting.
  • At least 25% of small businesses never reopen following a disaster. Purchase flood insurance to protect your business. 

Save for an Emergency

  • What important documents should you have for an emergency? The Emergency Financial First Aid Kit explains them all. 
  • How will you pay your bills if a disaster strikes? Disasters don’t plan ahead, prepare now. 
  • Over 40 percent of all Americans don’t have $400 in savings according to the Federal Reserve.
  • What will you do if there is a disaster? Learn how you become more prepared.
  • Keep some cash on hand in case of emergencies. 
  • You will have expenses like lodging, food, and gas, after a disaster. Are you prepared?
  • Are you prepared for a flood? Floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster, causing billions of dollars in damage each year.
  • The Emergency Financial First Aid Kit is a tool to help you and your family collect and secure the documents you would need if there was a disaster. 
  • Set aside a small amount from each paycheck to go into your savings account.Find more tips to help you manage your money to be prepared for the unexpected.
  • Only about half of all Americans have an emergency fund. This gives them the money needed to help with increased expenses after a disaster. Get tips about creating a fund. 
  • Do you know the help your community provides if there is a disaster?  Search online today. 
  • Make digital copies of important documents and save them on the cloud or a secure cell phone app in case disaster strikes. 
  • Flooding can be an emotionally and financially devastating event.  Just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in damage to your home.  Visit Flood Smart to lean more. 

Smoke Alarm Safety Tips

Change your batteries when you change your clocks twice a year for daylight savings. This year daylight saving time ends on Sunday, November 4th.  

Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Install alarms in the basement. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  • It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
  • People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
  • Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan.

Home Fire Escape Plan

Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors.

  • Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes.  Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm.
  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code® requires interconnected smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.
  • Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor's house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they've escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
  • Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road. If not, paint it on the curb or install house numbers to ensure that responding emergency personnel can find your home.
  • Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number of the fire department. That way any member of the household can call from a neighbor's home or a cellular phone once safely outside.
  • If there are infants, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency. Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home during the emergency
  • If windows or doors in your home have security bars, make sure that the bars have emergency release devices inside so that they can be opened immediately in an emergency. Emergency release devices won't compromise your security - but they will increase your chances of safely escaping a home fire.
  • Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family's fire escape plan. When staying overnight at other people's homes, ask about their escape plan. If they don't have a plan in place, offer to help them make one. This is especially important when children are permitted to attend "sleepovers" at friends' homes. See NFPA's "Sleepover fire safety for kids" fact sheet.
  • Be fully prepared for a real fire: when a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately. Residents of high-rise and apartment buildings may be safer "defending in place."
  • Once you're out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.

Put Your Plan to the Test

  • Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.
  • Make arrangements in your plan for anyone in your home who has a disability.
  • Allow children to master fire escape planning and practice before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping. The objective is to practice, not to frighten, so telling children there will be a drill before they go to bed can be as effective as a surprise drill.
  • It's important to determine during the drill whether children and others can readily waken to the sound of the smoke alarm. If they fail to awaken, make sure that someone is assigned to wake them up as part of the drill and in a real emergency situation.
  • If your home has two floors, every family member (including children) must be able to escape from the second floor rooms. Escape ladders can be placed in or near windows to provide an additional escape route. Review the manufacturer's instructions carefully so you'll be able to use a safety ladder in an emergency. Practice setting up the ladder from a first floor window to make sure you can do it correctly and quickly. Children should only practice with a grown-up, and only from a first-story window. Store the ladder near the window, in an easily accessible location. You don't want to have to search for it during a fire.
  • Always choose the escape route that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat – but be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary. When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to your exit.
  • Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of fire, giving you more time to safely escape.
  • In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your home or apartment building. To prepare for an emergency like this, practice "sealing yourself in for safety" as part of your home fire escape plan. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in. Call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.

Clear Your Escape Routes

 Items that block doors and windows in your home could keep you from escaping in the event of a home fire. And that could mean the difference between life and death. So unblock your exits today! Key to your family’s safety is planning and practicing a home fire escape plan twice a year. Start by identifying two escape routes out of each room, if possible, then make sure that each of those escape routes can be used safely by everyone. Download the "Clear Your Escape Routes" brochure in English or Spanish.