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June 1 marks the official start of the 2024 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the experts at Colorado State University predict that it will be very active with 23 named storms. Of these named storms, 11 will be hurricanes and 5 of those hurricanes will be major (Category 3, 4 or 5).

It’s more important than ever to prepare for hurricane season to protect your family, properties and self from disaster. Preparing for severe weather (e.g. hurricanes, tropical storms and torrential downpours) can make a difference in how quickly you respond. Don’t wait until a hurricane is approaching before considering your family's preparedness. History teaches that a lack of awareness and planning are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. Knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take can reduce the effects of a severe weather disaster.

1. Disaster Supply Kit

Develop a disaster supply kit or “Go Bag” with essentials in case you are isolated for five to seven days without power or must evacuate quickly. You should be able to use this supply kit for any emergency, regardless of the category or time of year.

The most important thing you can do as hurricane season approaches is to get yourself, your family and your home prepared. By starting early, you’ll avoid the rush at home supply stores, grocery stores and other venues that happens when hurricane watches and warnings are issued.

Be sure to have the following in your personal emergency kit:

  • Clean water for drinking and sanitation

  • Non-perishable food

  • Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications

  • A first aid kit

  • Batteries, chargers and power banks

  • Flashlights

  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio

  • A whistle

Keep the items you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container. Rethink your kit and your family’s needs at least once a year. If a storm is approaching, fill your vehicle’s gas tank daily.

2. Develop a Family Emergency Plan

Emergency planning for a family, especially if you have children, requires extra thought and preparation. You have to take into account additional factors that will help everyone effectively manage a stressful situation.

  • What if a child or other family is away when a disaster strikes? There are times when your family is separated. No one knows when an emergency may arise, so you have to prepare for anything. A few easy steps can make all the difference. Be sure your children never leave home without emergency contact information as well as the knowledge of who to call if you’re unavailable.

  • Hurricane hazards come in many forms: storm surges, high winds, tornadoes and flooding. It is important to have a plan that includes all of these hazards. Look carefully at the safety actions associated with each type of hurricane hazard and prepare your family disaster plan accordingly.

  • Remember to include family pets in your family emergency planning.

3. Create a Family Communications Plan

A Family Emergency Communications Plan can help you stay in contact and minimize the stress associated with emergencies. Here’s what you need to know:

  • In case family members are separated from one another during an emergency (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school, camp or a friend’s house), your plan should include a meeting or muster location for after the immediate crisis passes.

  • Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the Family Emergency Communications Plan contact person. During and immediately following a disaster, it is often easier to access a long-distance telephone number than a local one.

  • Make sure everyone knows the name, address and telephone number of the Family Emergency Communications Plan contact person.

  • Designate two meeting areas for family members – one within your community (your primary location) and one outside of your community (your alternate location). Sometimes, an emergency can impact your neighborhood or small section of the community, so a second location may be more accessible to all family members.

4. Stay Informed

Educate yourself and your family about emergency plans for your community, place of business and your child’s school and camp.

  • Know the potential risks associated with your community and neighborhood. What effects, like storm surges or flooding, are they susceptible to?

  • Carefully monitor the media and follow instructions from Public Safety officials as the hurricane approaches.

5. Prepare Your Home

  • Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall. Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs before hurricane season to keep you and your property safe

  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts. Clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.

  • Reduce property damage by retrofitting your roof, windows and doors to secure and reinforce them.

  • Purchase a portable generator or install a generator in case of a power outage. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, ensure they’re at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protect them from moisture. Never try to power your house by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.

  • Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter to shelter in during an intense weather event.

6. As the Storm Approaches

What to do when a hurricane is 36 hours from arriving

  • Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. During disasters, texting is usually more reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.

  • Review your evacuation plan with your family. You might need to leave quickly, so plan ahead.

  • Keep your car in good working condition with the gas tank full. Stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes for each family member.

What to do when a hurricane is 18-36 hours from arriving

  • Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.

  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection, or you can board up windows with ⅝” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.

What to do when a hurricane is 6-18 hours from arriving

  • Turn on your TV/radio or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

  • Charge your cell phone and other mobile devices.

What to do when hurricane is 6 hours from arriving

  • If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know your plan.

  • Close storm shutters and stay away from windows.

  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.

  • Turn on your TV/radio or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

Additional Resources