Be Smart; and Be Safe!
If you reside along the Eastern Seaboard or the Gulf of Mexico, you know that hurricane season is no joking matter. Preparation and planning are key to keeping your family safe. If your locality issues evacuation orders, don't second-guess the experts: Get your family, pets, and important documents to a safer area. If you have not been ordered to evacuate and you choose to shelter in place during a hurricane, be aware that riding out the storm comes with hazards. But you'll stay safer if you take the proper precautions, use your common sense, and never do any of these 11 things during a hurricane.
Don't walk outside to “feel” the wind.
Curiosity killed the cat, and it could be just as lethal for you. Hurricane winds can reach anywhere from 75 to 200 mph, and even small bits of debris can be deadly at those speeds. Stay indoors until winds die down, and don't be deceived by the lull that occurs when the eye of the storm is overhead. Once the eye passes, winds pick up quickly and come from the opposite direction. So, as tempting as it may be, don’t test the wind!
Related: Hurricane Season: 10 Myths Not to Believe
Don't use a laptop, microwave, or other electronics.
Hurricanes can pose a danger to your plugged-in electrical appliances and devices. Unplug laptops and other sensitive electronics to protect them—and you—from power fluctuations during the storm and power surges that may occur when service is restored. Back up your electronic devices to the cloud, and turn off the main breaker if flooding is predicted—but never attempt to do so if you would need to step into water to reach the breaker box.
Don't watch the storm through a window.
Flying debris and shattered glass can do serious damage. Board up your windows long before the storm hits, and during the storm stay away from doors, windows, and other openings where wind could break through and debris could blow in. And while gazing up through a skylight may seem safe, it's best to avoid that too.
Don't shower during the storm.
Hurricanes are not typically accompanied by large amounts of lightning, but there can be strikes during a storm. Because these can travel through your home's plumbing system, stay out of the shower, and avoid washing dishes or washing your hands during a hurricane. A lightning strike could prove deadly if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Don't shelter near an exterior wall.
Exterior walls are usually pierced by doors and windows, which do not make good companions during a hurricane. Interior spaces like closets and bathrooms are protected by the house's framework, so it's best to stay toward the center of the house, if possible.
Don't run outside before getting the all-clear signal.
Leaving your shelter too soon could prove fatal. If you mistake the calm of the hurricane’s eye for the end of the storm, you may wind up venturing out into the worst of it. But even if the storm really has passed, heading outside before the all clear leaves you vulnerable to downed power lines, fallen trees, and other hazards. Stay put until police, firefighters, or government officials notify you that it's safe to move around.
Don't make calls on a cellphone.
Calls aren’t likely to make it out during the storm, and they could clog lines and signals for those experiencing a true emergency. Of course, if you have an actual emergency, call first responders, but remember that the storm could significantly extend response times.
Don't fire up the grill indoors.
Everyone needs to eat, but don't use charcoal or gas grills, generators, or propane camping stoves inside the house. These all release dangerous carbon monoxide that quickly builds up in unventilated spaces. Stick to foods that don’t need to be cooked, and use blankets, coats, and sweaters to keep warm.
Don't start looking for a flashlight.
Don't wait until a storm hits to look for your flashlight. You don't want to be rifling around frantically when the wind is howling and water is creeping toward the door. Make sure you have flashlights, extra batteries, food, and other supplies ready to go long before a hurricane slams ashore.
Related: Are You Ready for Disaster? 11 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for Emergencies
Don't head to the gas station.
Don't drive out in search of gas as a storm is approaching. Chances are the gas stations are already closed, and if the power is out, the pumps won’t work anyway. This is another important to-do that should be taken care of long before a hurricane hits. Keep a full gas tank in the days leading up to a storm so you’re not caught trying to evacuate with a quarter tank and no way to fill it.
Don't ignore warnings and evacuation orders.
In the early hours of a storm, dangers multiply quickly. Heed warnings from your local officials, and pay attention to road closure signs. If a road is flooded, don’t try to cross it. At home, board your windows, assemble emergency kits, and devise an emergency plan well in advance. If an evacuation order goes out, heed it and head toward safer ground.
Related: 11 Smart Moves to Survive Hurricane Season
Riding Out the Storm
In addition to these hurricane safety tips, remember to pay attention to the news and listen to officials.
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