Hurricanes can have very unpredictable paths and it’s recommended to have hurricane checklists so you can take preparatory actions when threatening storms begin moving toward the Gulf or mid-Atlantic coasts. There are actions to take whether or not you intend to evacuate, and keep in mind that sometimes not everyone is capable of getting out of the path of the hurricane. Also, there are always geographic areas that aren’t in the hurricane’s path that will still suffer damage from storms that form off the edge of the weather event. Preparation and knowledge are the key to getting through the worst of the hurricane and maintaining your family’s safety.
Once weather forecasters note the formation of a hurricane, the first response for many is to go to the stores and buy up basic necessities. Avoid shortages by stocking up on non-perishable food items when hurricane season starts, and purchase items needed to secure your home. You’ll also want to plan more than one escape route in the event the main route is blocked. Below are checklists for preparing the inside and outside of your home.
Preparing the Outside of the Home
- Install hurricane shutters for the windows or board them up with plywood.
- Have the roof inspected for loose shingles and flashing to prevent them from letting water in.
- Install power outage lights that run off batteries.
- Clear the gutters of debris.
- Drain swimming pools 6 to 12 inches, but do not drain entirely.
- Bring in lawn furniture, grills, outdoor decor, and any other items that could get blown away by high winds.
- Disconnect propane tanks and store them in the house or garage.
- Brace garage doors with two-by-fours bolted to the garage door frame.
- Make sure that all entry doors are rated to withstand hurricane-force winds.
Readying the Inside of the Home
- Place valuable objects as far from the floor as possible to protect them from potential water damage.
- Close windows and lock them in place even if they’re boarded up or shuttered.
- Clean the bathtub and fill with water or use a tub liner designed for the purpose of holding water.
- Fill empty plastic jugs with water for drinking water.
- Turn the temperature on the freezer and refrigerator down as low as they will go.
- Fill plastic jugs and freeze them, then place them in the refrigerator and freezer to maintain cold temperatures for longer.
- Make ice cubes and put them in a cooler when the power goes out.
- Buy freezer gel packs to supplement the ice cubes.
- Designate a safe room and keep all necessary supplies in the room along with a power outage kit.
- Keep crates and leashes at the ready for pets.
Dealing With a Power Outage
Plan for the electricity to go out during a hurricane even if you’re not in an area that’s directly affected by a hurricane. Power sub-stations can get wiped out by high winds, and those that aren’t as affected can be shut down without notice as a safety precaution. Make sure to have energy outage supplies at the ready to stay connected to the outside world and have visibility inside the home. Have the following items on-hand in your kit:
- Fresh batteries.
- Clearly labeled prescription drugs.
- Matches kept in either a dry location or in Ziploc bags.
- Candles or camping lanterns that run on fuel or batteries.
- First aid kit.
- Tools and supplies for emergency repairs around the home.
- A NOAA weather radio powered by a crank.
Listen for a local electric outage alert on the radio or your smartphone to determine what areas are affected and the expected time for power to be returned to homes. If you’re asking yourself the question of “The power is out, so who do I call?” contact the non-emergency line for your area to report the electricity outage or ask for the phone number to the electric company.
Protecting Your Food Supply During and After a Hurricane
The increased likelihood of an energy outage after a hurricane means that food goes bad quickly because there’s no climate control in the home. It’s best to stock up on foods that don’t perish easily and are easily prepared when the power is out. The refrigerator can protect food for at least four hours after the power goes out, but further steps need to be taken to protect the food in the household.
- Cook and consume perishables first when possible.
- Don’t go into the refrigerator or freezer unless necessary as the cold air stays in the unit longer when the doors aren’t opened frequently.
- Throw out foods that are at risk of going bad quickly without refrigeration.
- Freeze foods prior to the hurricane that can be safely thawed out later.
- Put foods on high shelves to keep them safe from floodwaters.
- Keep bottled water on hand.
- Buy dry ice if possible.
- Unplug all appliances, electronic devices, and equipment from outlets.
Follow the one gallon of water per person rule of thumb when determining how much water to have on hand. Expect to put food into coolers with ice packs if the electricity stays off for more than half a day. In the event the home floods, throw out all food that looks like it’s been contaminated by floodwater.
Preparing for a Long-Term Power Outage
A power outage can last for days, sometimes weeks, if the damage from a hurricane is severe enough. Staying home during an extended local power outage can be uncomfortable, but it may make more sense to stay put than to leave in some cases.
- If a generator is in use, make sure the exhaust is being vented away from the home.
- Cook food on a gas grill if one is available.
- Use the emergency release on the garage door for in-and-out access.
- Keep blinds, shades, and curtains closed during the day to keep the home cool.
- Only leave the home after crews have had enough time to clear roadways.
Preparing for a hurricane can make or break your ability to tolerate what comes afterward, especially if the electricity goes out for an extended period of time. Always practice safety first during and after a hurricane.
|El Paso Electric||915-877-3400|
|SWEPCO East Texas|
North Texas – Panhandle
|Bryan Texas Utilities||979-822-3777|
|City of College Station||855-528-4278|
|Denton Municipal Electric||940-349-7000|
|Lubbock Power & Light||806-775-2509|
|Grayson Collin EC||903-482-7111|
|Guadalupe Valley EC||800-223-4832|
|Houston County EC||800-970-4232|
|Magic Valley EC||866-225-5683|
|Navasota Valley EC||800-443-9462|
|Rio Grande EC||800-749-1509|
|Rusk County EC||903-657-4571|
|Sam Houston EC||888-444-1207|
|San Bernard EC||800-364-3171|
|San Patricio EC||888-740-2220|
|South Plains EC||888-741-0111|
|Trinity Valley EC||800-967-9324|
|Upshur Rural EC||866-804-1674|
|Wood County EC||866-415-2951|
Note that the overall electricity rates charged by your electric company can sometimes increase following major storm damage to utility lines and other infrastructure, when a state’s Public Service Commission (or Public Utility Commission) agrees to special charges by transmission utility companies to recover their cost. The price of energy charged by the light company should not change if you are in a fixed rate contract, but the electricity provider will pass along the costs of the transmission and distribution utility company. Examples of electric companies in Texas include Reliant Energy, TXU Energy, Gexa Energy, TriEagle Energy, Cirro Energy, Chariot Energy, Green Mountain Energy, Pulse Power, LoneStar Energy, Ambit Energy and Champion Energy.