Hurricane preparedness

Are you prepared?

Hurricane personal preparation: This document has been prepared to assist you with personal preparation prior to and during a hurricane. It is not intended to be read as an exhaustive list and there may be further considerations that you wish to include which are specific to your circumstances.

What to do in an alert: 72 hours

Take precautions

  • Find out about the emergency plans in place for your area, early warning systems, evacuation plans and itineraries and the whereabouts of any emergency shelters
  • Check emergency supplies and items for securing your home. Stock up
  • Assess your home and make necessary repairs
  • Remove overhanging limbs and fruit from trees
  • Decide whether you need to stay with friends or relatives, or go to a shelter
  • Find out which shelter is closest and make plans to get there
  • Fill vehicles with gas and check tires
  • Retrieve some cash from the bank as many businesses will operate on a ‘cash only’ basis after a storm due to lack of electricity or phone service to process credit cards
  • Make arrangements for your pets
  • Stay tuned to your local radio, TV, weather service
  • Familiarize yourself with hurricane terminology
  • Ensure that trees on your property that are close to power lines are properly trimmed and make sure areas around water meter boxes are cleared
  • Install a shut off valve after your meter
  • Keep a ‘C’ type fire extinguisher in your home and office – never attempt to extinguish an electrical fire with water
  • Review your insurance policy and be sure you have sufficient coverage

What to do in a watch: 48 hours

Batten down

  • Stay tuned to your local radio, TV and weather channel updates
  • Listen to advice from local officials and evacuate if necessary
  • Prepare your property for high winds (i.e. repair loose guttering etc)
  • Bring lawn furniture inside, trash cans, hanging plants/pots and anything that can be picked up by the wind
  • Board up or shutter windows (Go ‘Tapeless’!!-do NOT tape up windows with duct tape as this is very dangerous!)
  • Remove outside antennas and satellite dishes
  • Ensure boats etc are secured properly
  • Stock up prescription medications and first aid kit
  • Check your disaster supply kit – include items like flashlights, batteries, battery operated radio, canned food and can opener, ropes, tarpaulin, candles, matches
  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to coldest setting
  • Turn off propane tanks
  • Unplug small appliances
  • Stock up on drinking water – five gallons of water per person suggested
  • Sterilise bathtub, pans and bottles and fill with water
  • Consider buying food-grade plastic buckets or drums for water. Seal tightly
    and label date. Store in a cool, dark place and they will be usable for six months
  • Fill up washing machine which can provide gallons of water suitable for cleaning dishes
  • Raise furniture, appliances and other valuables off the floor; cover and secure with plastic sheets
  • Disconnect downspouts from cisterns and close off cistern openings
  • Have your cesspool emptied

What to do in a warning: 36 hours

Take refuge

  • Stay tuned to your local media for updated information and official instructions
  • Stay away from beaches and other low areas
  • Close curtains and blinds to minimize danger of flying glass
  • Do not make unnecessary telephone calls and ensure cell phone is charged and has sufficient credit. Have a car phone charger on hand
  • Put your food and other supplies in sealable plastic bags
  • Put all important documents, i.e. passports, insurance certificates, birth certificates etc. in sealable plastic bags and keep at hand
  • Bring pets indoors and make sure you have a plentiful supply of litter and newspaper, as well as pet food and any medication
  • Ensure your animals are tagged with contact number’s and owners names and have leads and muzzles and carriers for transport
  • Have a photograph of your pets for identification purposes
  • Don’t chain your pets or leave in the same room as each other (behavior can change after trauma)
  • Park vehicles on high ground and disconnect battery. Ensure battery is in good condition
  • Close all interior doors and secure and brace exterior doors
  • Have a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy as well as a battery operated radio
  • Turn off your water shut off valve if you evacuate your home
  • Wedge sliding glass doors to prevent them being lifted from their tracks
  • If using sealant around doors or windows, make sure it has 24 hours to dry
  • Store screens in separate area to make sure you have window cover after storm
  • Turn off main breaker and unplug all electrical appliances to prevent unnecessary damage

What to do during a hurricane

  • Do not leave your house/shelter during the storm (unless the structure is so compromised that it is safer to leave and seek shelter elsewhere)
  • Stay on the downwind side of the house away from windows
  • Do not go outside while the eye is passing unless absolutely necessary
  • If your roof or walls begin to fail, go to an inner room (preferably one without windows) or to a cupboard, passageway and shield yourself with a mattress (n.b. know where the air conditioning units are situated-make sure they are not above your head!!) If power is lost turn off major appliances to reduce power surge when electricity is restored
  • If you happen to be outside take shelter in the nearest substantial structure or a sturdy tree and hold yourself to it
  • If the water rises move to a higher floor, or hold on to something that floats such as wooden furniture or plastic container
  • Stay tuned to your local media for updated information and official instructions

What to do after a hurricane

All Clear

  • Keep listening to local news for instructions and for the all clear to be announced
  • Wait until an area is declared safe before entering
  • Help any injured or trapped persons, but do not move severely injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury
  • Drive only if absolutely necessary (avoiding debris and flood waters that are being cleared by emergency crew). Do not drive on washed out roads
  • Stay on firm ground; moving water can sweep you off your feet and standing water can be electrically charged by downed power lines
  • Enter and inspect your home with extreme caution. Beware of fallen objects/damaged roofs/walls/ undermined foundations and gas leaks
  • Use flashlights for light. Do not use matches or other open flames
  • Make a detailed list of damage to your property, and report to local water and/or electrical companies
  • Take pictures of the damage to your home and property. The pictures will help later as documentation for any insurance claim
  • Check gas, water and electrical lines for any damage (very carefully!)
  • Do not drink or prepare food with tap water until you are certain it is not contaminated. Do not eat any food that has come into contact with flood water
  • If you suspect the sewage lines are damaged, avoid flushing the toilets. Contact a plumber as soon as possible
  • If cooking with a BBQ, ensure that grill is in an open area away from any overhang and never leave unattended. Never use an LP cylinder if it shows signs of corrosion/fire/excessive rust etc
  • Do not touch fallen or low hanging power lines nor attempt to move any object in contact with power lines
  • Do not turn on your main breaker until you ensure that the secondary breakers are in the off position
  • Do not turn your water shut- off valve back on until the Water Authority advises that services have been restored in your area
  • Once you turn on your water shut-off valve, inspect your home for damaged pipes
  • Report any hurricane damage to public water mains or meter boxes to the Water and Sewerage Department
  • Check and report damage of any electrical lines/ appliances to relevant bodies
  • Remove shutters or plywood and open windows and doors to ventilate/dry home if necessary. Dry and air furniture/rugs/bedding etc to avoid mildew
  • If your home has been flooded, flush plumbing fixtures with buckets of water to ensure they are open. Have health authorities inspect your sanitary disposal system to avoid any health hazards.
  • Wear protective clothing on legs, arms, feet and hands while cleaning up debris. Wear rubber gloves while scrubbing flood damaged interiors
  • Make sure you have had an up to date tetanus injection
  • Keep listening for official information from the National authorities, including the locations of post-hurricane shelters, relief, and medical services

If you have a generator

  • If you have a generator do not connect the output on the generator into the breaker panel or household outlets
  • Make sure generator is properly grounded to avoid shock
  • Keep children away from generators
  • Plug your appliances directly into the generator and avoid overloading and use heavy duty outdoor rated power cords
  • Do not use extension cords with exposed wires
  • Do not run cords under rugs or furniture where heat might build up
  • Place your generator in a well ventilated area and away from your home and windows
  • Protect the generator from direct exposure to rain by placing it under a canopy
  • Never refuel a generator while it is running or hot
  • Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting the generator down
  • Use a flashlight or battery lantern when refueling and always keep open
    flames away from the area
  • Read and adhere to manufacturer’s instructions

Tips for notifying family

  • Establish a network to relatives by calling one family member or friend before a hurricane hits to ask them to notify others. Test the system to make sure everyone gets the message
  • Use the internet to establish a similar network. Have those online relatives inform family members who don’t have access to computers of your whereabouts
  • If you have a laptop, charge in advance (and have a back up battery if possible)
  • If you have a cell phone voicemail, you can leave a message of your whereabouts and how you can be reached

Preparing children for a hurricane

During the storm

  • Parents should watch for an increase in a child’s anxiety levels and help them remain calm by talking to them and letting them choose the topic for conversation
  • Remain calm as adult reactions set the tone of how children will react
  • Try distracting them with activities
  • Make sure you have plenty of their favourite foods and drinks in stock

After the storm

  • Keep family together in the immediate aftermath to avoid fears of abandonment.
  • Reassure children by words as well as actions encourage children to talk about their feelings about the hurricane
  • If they become withdrawn, talk to others about the storm in front of your children which may encourage them to express themselves. If this does not work consider counseling after two weeks
  • Re-establish regular routines as quickly as possible
  • Be prepared for fears to surface at bedtime i.e. nightmares, needing to share beds or waking during the night
  • Be sure children are being cared for at all times and do not allow them to play in damaged buildings/ unsafe areas
  • Give special attention to cleaning children’s toys, playpens, cribs etc. Boil any items a toddler or infant might have put in his/her mouth. Discard stuffed toys that are non-cleanable and water logged.

Shelter tips: (Shelter locations listed above) If you decide to spend the storm in a public shelter

  • Look at the shelter map before a storm for the shelter nearest to you.
  • Let a friend or relative know where you are headed.
  • Eat a good meal before you go to the shelter.
  • Each person should take a three to four day supply of tinned food and water (one gallon per day per person). Remember that water has a shelf life of six months only!
  • Do not take pets, alcoholic beverages, smoking materials, heavy luggage, valuable or weapons. Cots and air mattresses may not be allowed if space is limited.
  • Also bring a can opener, first aid kit (and prescription medication), special
    need items for infants (diapers, formula, bottle etc), bedding (sleeping bags/pillow), battery powered radio, flash light, extra batteries, change of clothes, extra set of car keys, credit card and cash, passport and other important documentation, phone charger and toys/games to keep children occupied.

Medical care – Hospitalization may be required for:

  • People with potentially serious injuries or infected wounds
  • Pregnant women experiencing contractions or more than seven months pregnant
  • Persons dependent on a ventilator
  • People with chest pains or shortness of breath
  • Uncontrollable or violent people

Special needs

  • If you are taking prescription medication, make sure you have at least a seven day supply
  • Dialysis patients should talk to Dialysis Unit Staff at Peebles Hospital on 1 (284) 852-7500 for specific instructions
  • Oxygen therapy patients should consult their doctor about where to stay during a storm and ensure they have a portable oxygen unit if they intend to go to a shelter
  • Wheelchair users should know the size of their wheelchairs for transport reasons and should show friends how to use it in case they need help

Hurricane Supplies Kit

Suggested items for a hurricane supplies kit. Please customize to your individual/family needs.


  • Valuables and important papers (i.e. copy of passport/marriage and birth certificates, insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, etc.) in waterproof sealed bags
  • Money (USD)
  • A few games and books for children
  • Clothing – seasonal/rain gear/sturdy shoes/extra dry clothes
  • Glow in dark vest
  • Special Items – for babies and the elderly
  • Toiletries/hygiene items/moisture wipes/sunblock
  • Keys
  • Pet care items (proper identification/immunization records/medications), ample supply of food and water, a carrier or cage, muzzle and leash
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Battery operated clock
  • Baby food, formula, diapers, and baby wipes
  • Bedding, blankets or sleeping bags, pillows etc.


  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Bleach
  • Clothes and dish detergent
  • Clothesline and pins
  • Fire extinguisher – ABC type
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Brooms, mops, buckets

Food and water

As a minimum, prepare yourself to be without food and water for at least three days.

  • Canned and non-perishable foods
  • Water – at least one gallon daily per person for three to seven days

Tools and utensils

  • Cooking tools (i.e. A non-electric can opener.)
  • Camp stove (with fuel)
  • Lantern (with fuel)
  • Several flashlights and fresh batteries/head torch
  • A portable cooler and ice
  • Eating utensils
  • Masking tape
  • Candles and matches
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Gloves and goggles
  • Small tools
  • Ladder
  • Plywood and nails
  • Rake/shovel
  • Chain saw, gas & oil
  • Duct and masking tape (NOT FOR WINDOWS!)
  • Rolls of plastic
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Axes, hatchets, pruners
  • Rope


  • First Aid Kit (include tweezers)
  • Prescription drugs/medication
  • Medic Alert tags (allergies etc)
  • Thermometer
  • Iodine or other water purification tablets


  • Portable battery-operated radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Cell phone with spare battery


  • Extra zip-lock bags to protect valuables
  • Vehicle fuel tanks filled