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7 Mistakes to Avoid When Preparing For a Hurricane

The official hurricane season in the US and the entire Atlantic Basin (which includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico) is between June 1st and November 30th, and the peak is thought to be in mid-August. 

While facing a hurricane can be scary, being prepared can go a long way during a storm. There are certain steps you can take to ensure maximum safety for you and your loved ones during this time. This article details the mistakes you should avoid and what should be done instead. 


1. Dismissing advice to evacuate

7 Mistakes to AVOID When Preparing For a Hurricane evacuation

Unlike other natural disasters like fires or earthquakes that strike suddenly, hurricanes typically come with a few days or hours of advanced warning. Whenever you hear of a storm or hurricane that is about to hit your area, it’s extremely important to tune in and follow the announcements of emergency services, in case you need to evacuate. You can do so on Ready.gov.

If you've been given a voluntary evacuation order, it means officials and authorities strongly encourage you to begin leaving your area to seek a safer location. If you've been given a mandatory evacuation order, you should follow officials' instructions to get to a safer area as soon as possible. It is extremely important for these life-saving instructions to be taken seriously! There is usually a set time when you can and should evacuate as well as take certain advised routes. If you or a loved one need assistance in evacuating, search for an evacuation-assistance organization in your area. 

2. Not having an up-to-date emergency kit

7 Mistakes to AVOID When Preparing For a Hurricane emergency kit

As we noted, preparedness is key, especially If you live in an area that has frequent weather-related threats. Other than having a clear evacuation plan you should also have an up-to-date emergency kit in your home. According to ready.gov, such a kit must include enough water and food to last you and those in your household at least 3 days, medications, first-aid supplies, cash, flashlights, and extra batteries. These are just the basic items, for more ideas on what you can include in the kit click here to be transferred to the official government website.

Don’t forget to check on your preparedness kit every now and again, and make sure the food in it hasn’t expired, the information in it is updated, and the items inside are still in working condition. 

Related: 14 Important Items to Have During an Emergency

3. Leaving pets behind

7 Mistakes to AVOID When Preparing For a Hurricane pets
If you have pets, do include them in your evacuation plan. Keep in mind that many public shelters do not allow non-service animals inside during natural disasters. This highlights the importance of preparing in advance even more - check your local laws and policies and plan accordingly. Know which hotels and shelters are pet-friendly, and prepare an emergency kit for your animal companion, that includes pet supplies like food, copies of their medical records, and a secure carrier.

4. Lighting candles and gas lanterns

7 Mistakes to AVOID When Preparing For a Hurricane candles
Although power outages are extremely likely during a hurricane, it is essential that you avoid using lanterns since the extreme winds can often damage gas lines and create leaks. The last thing you need on your plate when already dealing with one natural disaster is to start a fire. Experts advise sticking to battery-operated flashlights until your gas line is secured and power is safely restored.  

5. Open windows or doors

open windows

Not only should you keep all the windows and doors tightly shut during a hurricane, but experts also advise boarding them up, as well. There is a common belief that opening a window during a hurricane can equalize pressure and help prevent damage, but it is incorrect. "In reality, there is no chance that your home is airtight, and creating large openings will likely only cause more property damage," explained Sam Maizlech, an outdoors and survival expert in a statement to Insider.

If you decide to board up your windows, The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) recommends buying plywood sheets that are at least 5/8 inch thick. Make sure to measure your windows and take those to a store to get the plywood cut, or cut it yourself if you have the tools.

6. Stand close to a window during a storm

stay close to a window

Even if you made sure the windows of your home are all boarded up, refrain from standing near them during the height of a storm. There is a slight chance that a window does break, and in that case, all kinds of debris may fly in through the opening, and potentially hurt you. 

According to the National Weather Service, you are most safe in an interior windowless room, like a bathroom, a hallway, or even a closet. If you have a basement, then you’re in luck - the lower you go during a hurricane, the safer.

7. Not preparing for the aftermath

7 Mistakes to AVOID When Preparing For a Hurricane damaged home
Even those who are well prepared for the storm itself are at risk of overlooking the safety precautions needed once the storm has passed. Some things to remember are that additional supplies may be needed in case stores remain closed due to damage, tap water could be contaminated and power could be out for some time even after the weather itself no longer poses a danger. Stocking up bottled water or purchasing a generator and fuel can ensure your basic needs in the aftermath of a storm.
Share this important information with your loved ones and stay safe!
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