Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

November 6, 2020·12 minutes

It is important to be prepared when a hurricane is on the way. This checklist focuses on the crucial points to consider so that you are ready for this eventuality. Living in a hurricane-prone area means being aware of what’s going on. This significant factor is the best way to stay safe and prevent as much damage to the home as possible.

Hurricane season runs from May through November each year. Though this information could seem unnecessary right now, these survival tips should be in the back of your mind at all times. Please continue reading this hurricane checklist so that you know how to stay safe.

Be aware that facing a hurricane could come unexpectedly. Being prepared before it hits can be a valuable process. Unsolicited advice from this hurricane checklist can save more than your life, and it’s possible to influence others by doing one little thing. Consider sharing this hurricane checklist to keep your family and friends safe, as well.

Preparation Tips Before the Hurricane

The Eastern Pacific area can see hurricanes from May 15 through November 30, while the Atlantic and Central Pacific typically experiences hurricanes from June 1 through November 30.

It’s important to understand that hurricanes aren’t just a problem for the coastal regions. Wind, rain, and water can be experienced farther inland, so be aware of this and know how a hurricane might affect you.

Emergency Watch, Warnings, Alerts

Utilize various ways to receive alerts about the emergency. You can download the app from FEMA to get notifications about what’s happening and who is being evacuated. The NWS (National Weather Service) also offers real-time alerts for five different locations. You should also sign up for any community alerts in the area and pay close attention to the WEA (Wireless Emergency Alert) and the EAS (Emergency Alert System) where applicable.

Plan for Evacuation

Make sure the family knows what to do in case of an evacuation. This includes:

  • Receiving warnings and emergency alerts
  • Having a shelter-in-place plan
  • Knowing two evacuation routes out of the neighborhood
  • Communicating with family if they become separated during an evacuation

Inside the House

Gather together all of the supplies you may need if you have to shelter in place for the hurricane. Include enough bottled water for each person for at least two weeks. Have canned goods and foods that don’t need to be heated before eating. You’re likely to lose power during the hurricane.

Make a note of where everyone prefers to be during the day. For example, children might like to play in the basement. If you get a notification to evacuate, you want to know exactly where everyone is to gather them together faster.

Outside the House

You can prepare the outside of your home for the hurricane. Make sure that the gutters and drains are clear of any obstructions. This reduces the risk of leaks from extra water.

Bring the outside furniture inside the home or into a shed. That way, it doesn’t get blown around and can’t get thrown into the windows.

Purchase and install hurricane shutters.

Evacuation Zone

The evacuation might happen quickly, so you need to know the evacuation routes and zoning. Then, you can practice with your pets and family members. Make sure you know where you’re staying (friend or family member’s house) and how to get there with at least two routes.

Sometimes, the evacuation happens when everyone isn’t at home. Determine where the family often goes and how to get to the pre-determined meeting place from there. It might be best to ask children to stay where they are (letting you know in advance) so that you can go pick them up.

Those in a mandatory evacuation zone might fare better when staying with a family member rather than in an evacuation shelter.

Sheltering in place might be a possibility. Make sure to listen to all alerts and heed evacuation orders when they come about.


Know your neighborhood well, and have two ways to vacate the area. Remember, during an evacuation order, everyone is likely to leave at the same time. Consider leaving before the order is put into effect to avoid traffic and other issues.

Check with your elderly neighbors to see if they need help getting supplies or evacuating. Don’t put yourself at risk, but help others when you can.

Family Communication Plan

Knowing how you’re going to talk to family and friends during the crisis is essential. Phone systems are often overloaded during this time (before, during, and after). Consider using your data plan and social media to let others know you’re safe. Don’t ask other family members to help you evacuate because you’re putting them in danger. Instead, ask for support from the neighbors or emergency responders when appropriate.

Make sure that your children and others in the household have a charged cell phone at all times. Program important numbers in the children’s phones so that they can text you and others. If you get separated, this might be the best way to communicate and find out where they are and how to get to them.

Hurricane Safety Tips for Pets

Keeping your pets safe during a hurricane is important:

  • Ensure that dogs and cats wear collars with identification tags that are updated regularly.
  • Consider putting your cell number on the pet tag.
  • Find a safe place for them to stay before the hurricane hits.
  • Don’t assume that you can bring the pet to an emergency shelter. Check with the local authorities beforehand to learn about pet-friendly options.
  • Take your pet with you when you evacuate.
  • Consider taking your pet to a veterinarian or kennel if there’s no other option.
  • Have plenty of water and food for the pets.
  • Bring a sturdy carrier or leash, as well as your pet’s medications.

Home & Property Preparation

Make sure that you’ve got plenty of water. Before the hurricane, you can store up tap water in empty and clean soda bottles and other plastic containers. Each person should have at least a gallon of water each day, so plan accordingly.

You need non-perishable food for at least three days. Choose options that don’t need to be cooked, prepared, or refrigerated. Try to limit products that require you to add water. If heating food is necessary, ensure that you’ve got a can of Sterno or a cooking unit that doesn’t require gas or electricity. Don’t use your oven/stove during a hurricane.

Have the right supplies and tools, such as:

  • Mess kits (paper cups, plastic utensils, and paper plates)
  • Utility knife and non-electric can opener
  • Tube tent
  • Compass
  • Aluminum foil
  • Signal flares
  • Needles and thread
  • Medicine dropper
  • List of shelters around you
  • Hand sanitizer (you may not be able to wash your hands from the tap)
  • Cloth face masks
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Plastic buckets with lids
  • Soap and detergent

First Aid Kit

You can purchase first aid kits that have everything you require. Make sure that you inventory the contents as you use things from it. However, you may choose to assemble a first aid kit yourself. Ensure that there’s one in every vehicle and one in the house. It should include:

  • 20 adhesive bandages in various sizes
  • Some sterile dressings
  • Conforming gauze bandages
  • Triangular bandages
  • Sterile gauze pads in different sizes
  • A roll of cohesive bandage
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Alcohol-based sanitizer or germicidal hand wipes
  • Adhesive tape
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Cold pack
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors (small)
  • Face shields

Pet Kit

Have a separate box or duffel bag for each pet. This should include:

  • A seven-day supply of water and non-perishable pet food
  • Pet carrier or cage
  • Leash
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Pet medications
  • Current photo
  • Pet bed
  • Toys
  • Cat litter/box
  • Medical records
  • Written instructions about medical conditions, feeding schedules, and behavior issues
  • Veterinarian’s phone number
  • Grooming items
  • Paper towels/newspapers

Emergency Supplies

Ensure that you’ve got plenty of medication, including non-prescription items. If you own pets, they need enough supplies to last for two or more weeks, just like you.

Consider having some items in the car trunk so that if you must leave fast and can’t grab anything, you’re not without. This includes clothing, medicine, water, food, and batteries. If you think you might need it, have it. You might not get access to those items for weeks after a hurricane.

However, you shouldn’t go out and buy everything you can all at once. Just because you have the funds to do that doesn’t mean others do. Try to slowly build up the supplies during regular shopping trips so that you don’t hoard items during the hurricane when others need them, too.

Things to include:

  • Water – a gallon for every person for at least three days
  • Food – at least three days’ worth
  • Hand-crank or battery-powered radio
  • First aid kit (see above)
  • Extra batteries
  • Flashlight
  • Whistle
  • Duct tape and plastic sheeting
  • Dust mask
  • Wrench and pliers
  • Garbage bags
  • Moist towelettes
  • Cell phone with appropriate chargers
  • Back-up battery for the cell phone
  • Local maps
  • Manual can opener
  • Prescription and OTC meds
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Extra pair of prescription eyeglasses
  • Pet food and water
  • Infant formula, diapers, bottles, wipes, and rash cream
  • Traveler’s checks and cash
  • Warm blanket for every person
  • Full change of clothes and sturdy shoes
  • Matches (kept in a waterproof container)
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Paper/pencil
  • Paper cups, towels, plates, and plastic utensils
  • Feminine products and personal hygiene items
  • Games, books, puzzles

Critical Documents & Insurance Policy

Make sure you’ve got current copies of your home insurance policy. You may choose to keep paper copies, but also have an electronic one so that it’s easier to access when you’re away from home.

You also need to keep a copy of your ID and that of the other adults. If you lose your license, you’ve still got proof of who you are. Copies of everyone’s social security number and birth certificate are also helpful.

If you have a home inventory, make sure you’ve got copies of it, as well. This can speed up the insurance claim because you know what you have.

Survival Tips During the Hurricane

Stay informed at all stages of the hurricane. Listen to emergency alerts and information whenever they’re available. If you’re in the mandatory evacuation zone, heed what local officials tell you to do immediately.

Staying Safe Indoors

Know how to protect yourself from flooding and high winds. This should be done before the storm hits. Create a storm shelter by using an interior room that protects you from the high winds, and make sure it has no windows. Bring mattresses from the beds to sit under if debris starts flying around.

As floodwaters rise, you may need to go to the upper floors of the home. Never go into an enclosed attic. You could get trapped with no way to get outside. Try not to go to the roof of your home; you’re at the mercy of the elements. This is only appropriate if you feel that you need to be rescued by emergency personnel.

You can use a generator but do so safely. It should be put outside and shouldn’t be near to the windows. The carbon monoxide they create can get into the house. It’s called the silent killer for a reason!

Staying Safe Outdoors

Typically, it’s best to stay inside when you can. However, if you must leave the house, don’t walk, drive, or swim through floodwaters. Just turn around and go a different way. Even 6 inches of quick-moving water can knock an adult down, and 1 foot of fast-moving water could sweep away the vehicle.

Safety Tips After the Hurricane

  • Always listen to the local officials for instructions and to determine when it’s safe to go back to your home.
  • Clean-up is likely to be necessary. Always use protective clothing and face masks when cleaning up debris. Those with lung conditions and asthma may want to hire professional crews to clean up the mess. Children should never be part of the clean-up work.
  • Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer. Use disinfectant wipes to clean up any commonly touched surfaces.
  • Don’t work alone. Let someone you trust know where you are at all times.
  • Don’t touch electrical equipment if you are standing in water, or it is wet. Consider turning off the electricity at the breaker box to avoid electrical shock or fire.
  • Never wade in floodwaters because it could have debris that you can’t see. Downed power lines can’t often be seen, either, and they could charge the water and make it dangerous.
  • Try not to make phone calls. Phone systems might be down or extremely busy. Instead, using social media outlets and text messages to communicate with friends and family.
  • Take photos of the damage. As soon as you can, call the insurance company and let it know what’s going on.


There are many ways to protect your home and get it ready for hurricane season. Each year, you should check these things and make sure the house is leak-free and secure. Evacuation may be required, and you should always evacuate when you’re told to do so. This includes taking your pets and having the right supplies.

You might need to shelter in place, so you should gather appropriate medications and supplies for three days. Have a first aid kit in each vehicle and in the house to help with small cuts and other issues.

When possible, stay inside and be safe while you’re outside. Now that you know what to do to prepare for a hurricane, it’s important to let others know. Share this list with colleagues, friends, and family members so that you can all stay safe.

Casper Henson
Casper Henson

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