June 1, 2018

Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1st and Pacific hurricane season starts a bit earlier on May 15th.

Having been raised in a flood-prone and hurricane-heavy area in southeastern Virginia, I understand the importance of hurricane preparation. Before hurricane season, I followed my Dad around handing him tools. He grew up in Virginia Beach and was used to boarding up the house, bringing in all the outdoor furniture, and doing everything possible to hunker down family members' houses. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn't – the storms won. Afterward, trees and debris lay strewn across our lawns. Or, the ocean took off parts of our friends' and family's houses.

My Dad tracked the hurricanes himself with help from the local paper. He also had a NOAA weather radio. (Of course, the radio went off more often to test the system or for ship alerts than for actual emergencies.) Luckily, today, there are apps and many resources for hurricane preparation.

10 preparation tips for before, during, and after hurricanes

  1. Create a family emergency plan (including your pets): With your family, develop what you'll do and where you'll go; write it down. Where will you meet if you're not all together when the storm starts? Who will get your pets?

  2. Download a weather-tracking app: Hurricane Pro or Hurricane Tracker are good weather-tracking apps. You can also find others on major weather websites. 

  3. Prep your get-away mobile: Keep your car or truck in good working order. Make sure you check off the following from your to-do list: oil change, gas, tire pressure, and a "go" kit stocked with water, food, blanket, etc. You don't want to be stuck on the side of a windy and flooded road during a storm.

  4. Find a BPI Certified Professional to address any outstanding home energy or safety issues. These will all be exacerbated during a big storm. A BPI Certified Professional can also give you tips as they conduct your energy audit, health and safety assessment, or other home evaluation.

  5. Check out Ready.gov: A Department of Homeland Security website, Ready.gov, includes a full plan for each phase of the storm. The website has a list of things you will likely need; you can also download and print this list. Stockpile these items in advance of hurricane season. 

    And remember, only you know everything you will need. If you have small baby or medical issues, ensure you have extra supplies to get you through the hurricane and the potential aftermath. 

  6. Listen to your local news and log on to social media for alerts: If you're on social media (and can keep your internet connection), use Twitter and other social media platforms to get news updates. Facebook also lets you indicate that you're safe so family and friends won't worry while trying to get ahold of you.

  7. Keep your mobile phone charged, carry your charger with you, and keep a battery back-up: Since nearly everyone has one, make sure all your family have their cells charged as well. There is also an app, Zello, which allows you to use your phone as a walkie-talkie, as long as you have internet access.

  8. Live on the water? If you live on the water and have a bulkhead, make sure it is maintained. In some cases, the water from storms (or over time) scours out the sand buttressing it up. This can make the difference of keeping your house or losing it to the sea.

  9. Lastly, if you are in a crisis, keep the FEMA number handy: (800) 621-FEMA.

  10. After the storm: You'll be in a long line of people trying to get their houses repaired, trees removed, and electrical connections fixed. Have the phone numbers for your insurance company, contractor, electrician, tree specialists, and repairmen at the ready! 

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Hannah C. Wood

Hannah C. Wood was the BPI Marketing and Communications Director from July 2016 through December 2018. She likes all kinds of home projects. She wants everyone to feel comfortable, healthy, and safe, wherever they are "at home".