Hurricane Preparedness Guide

This resource guide is meant to support preparedness, planning, response and recovery efforts needed for hurricanes and associated flooding. Use this interactive website or download the resource guide in PDF format.

For each content section, practical guidance has been developed and relevant resources about the topic are linked. Use the guide from the beginning or skip to the section that best describes your current interest.

Step 1: Make a Family Disaster Plan. Include:

  • Out-of-town emergency contacts.
  • Other important phone numbers.
  • Evacuation routes.
  • Shelter locations.
  • Include specific family needs.

Step 2: Practice the plan at least twice a year.

  • Update plan as information changes.
  • Drive planned evacuation routes.

Step 3: Create a disaster kit.

  • Large plastic bin or box to hold items.
  • Flashlight.
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • Radio.
  • Extra Batteries.
  • Cell phone charger.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags and towels.
  • For children:
    • Full diaper bag.
    • Baby bottles or sippy cups.
    • Pacifiers or comfort items.
    • Favorite small toys and books.
    • Growth charts.
    • Games, coloring books or puzzles.
    • Identification (e.g., bracelet with child’s name and parent’s contact info).
  • Medical:
    • Prescribed medications, at least two weeks.
    • Copy of medical insurance.
    • Immunization record.
    • Contact information for doctor and other specialists.
    • Medical record (condition, medications, allergies, etc.).
  • Change of clothing and shoes.
  • Extra cash.
  • First aid kit.
  • Soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.
  • Copies of important documents (medical records, insurance cards, IDs, bank account records, etc.).

Step 4: Collect emergency food and water.

  • Canned food.
  • Instant soup.
  • Peanut butter.
  • Cereal.
  • Nuts and trail mixes.
  • Protein and granola bars.
  • Dried fruits.
  • Baby food or powdered infant formula.
  • At least one gallon of water per person per day.
  • More water is needed for children, nursing mothers and sick family members.

Step 5: Plan to protect pets and other animals.

  • Microchip pet and keep contact information updated.
  • Find a pet-friendly place to stay or animal shelter.
  • Have contact information for veterinarian.
  • Include pet supplies in disaster kit.
    • Leash and collar with ID and current photo
    • Toys.
    • Pet carrier.
    • Waste bags or litter.
    • Food and water bowls.
    • Can opener.
    • Copies of vet records and registration information.
    • Medications.
  • Add at least two-week supply of food and water for each pet.

Step 6: Talk to children about disasters.

  • Show kids how to call for help and when to use emergency numbers.
  • Teach your kids how to recognize emergency alerts.
  • Talk about basic hurricane information.
  • Go over the steps to keep your kids safe.
  • Be honest when answering questions.

Initial alert: 36-48 hours

  • Listen to the local news for weather updates and evacuation advisories.
  • Review evacuation zones, evacuation routes, and shelters.
  • Review the family disaster plan.
  • Restock the disaster kit.

Approaching: 18-36 hours before

  • Communicate with emergency contacts.
  • Prepare home by:
    • Cleaning the yard (to prevent projectile debris).
    • Bringing in lightweight objects from outside.
    • Tying down other outside objects.
    • Trimming and removing loose branches.
    • Covering windows with storm shutters or plywood.
    • Testing CO monitor.
  • Fill up car with gas and move car into garage or under cover.
  • Follow instructions of local authorities about evacuation.
    • Take disaster kit and emergency food and water.
    • Turn off gas, electricity and water.
    • Unplug appliances.
    • Take pets with you.
    • Plan to leave if you live in a mobile home.

Near: 6-18 hours before

  • Check the latest weather updates often.
  • Charge cell phones, computers and other electronics.

Immediately before: 0-6 hours

  • Stay home if not in area of evacuation.
  • Do not go outside until storm is over.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Check the latest weather updates often.
  • Consider limiting amount of media coverage children watch.
  • Turn fridge and freezer to coldest setting.
  • Be ready if told to leave.

Preventing illness and injury

  • Get to higher ground if flooding occurs.
  • Do not drive or walk through flooded areas or standing water.
  • Do not allow children to play in water.
  • Pay attention to temperatures outside and protect the vulnerable (e.g., age 65+, babies, children and the sick).
  • Listen to reports of the air quality and limit time outside when exposure is high.
  • Wash hands with safe water.
  • Do not drink or eat anything contaminated by flood water.
  • Throw away food that smells different and looks different.
  • Wear rubber gloves, glasses, mask, and sturdy shoes during cleanup.
  • Minimize time around cleaning solutions.
  • Keep children and pets away until cleanup is done.
  • Seek medical assistance for injuries or illnesses.

Returning home

  • Return home only when local officials say it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid loose power lines and stay on solid ground.
  • Enter your home during daylight hours, exercising caution.
  • Use flashlight to inspect walls and foundation.
  • Look for any hazards caused by gas leaks, electricity and flood water.
  • Watch out for wild or stray animals, snakes and insects.
  • Take pictures of home and personal belongings.
  • Ventilate home by opening doors and windows.
  • Throw away items that cannot be washed or disinfected.
  • Cut out dry wall and insulation that came in contact with flood water.
  • Fully clean hard surfaces with hot water and soap.
  • Children should only return once cleanup is complete.


  • Mold begins to grow within 24-48 hours.
  • Mold exposure can increase risk of:
    • Asthma attacks.
    • Wheezing.
    • Stuffy nose.
    • Red and itchy eyes or skin.
  • Signs of mold include:
    • Discolored walls or ceilings.
    • Musty, earthy or foul odor.
  • Completely dry everything before cleanup.
    • Open windows and doors.
    • Use fans when possible.
  • Throw away objects that cannot be cleaned.
  • Hire professionals to help with larger jobs.
  • Protect mouth, nose, skin and eyes during cleanup.
  • Cleaning mold:
    • Use soap and water, household bathroom cleaning products, or a mixture of 1 gallon of water with 1 cup of bleach
    • Never mix cleaning products.
    • Painting or caulking over mold will not fix the problem.


  • The types of mosquitoes spreading viruses can increase two weeks to two months after hurricane.
  • Prevent bites:
    • Wear long sleeves and pants.
    • Use insect repellents approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Babies and children:
    • Cover legs and arms with clothing.
    • Cover strollers and baby carriers.
    • No insect repellents on children < 2 months of age.
    • No products with oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children < 3 years of age.
  • Get rid of standing water.
  • Drain puddles of water or fill with dirt.
  • Repair holes in screens or gaps in walls, doors and windows.

Flood Waters

  • Do not drive or swim through flooded areas (fast moving water can pose a risk of drowning).
  • Avoid flood waters due to possible increased contamination from sewage or toxic substances and hidden hazards from trees, branches, electrical wires, broken glass and other sharp objects.
    • Protect open cuts or wounds.
    • Wear rubber boots.
    • Wash hands and exposed body parts.
    • Do not allow children to play in water.
  • Look out for stray or wild animals, snakes and insects.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

  • CO is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas.
  • Power outages increase the risk of exposure.
  • Have a working smoke detector and CO detector in the house.
  • Never use portable generators indoors or near sleeping areas.
  • Other cooking devices (charcoal grills and kerosene) should not be used indoors for cooking.
  • CO exposure symptoms:
    • Headache.
    • Dizziness.
    • Weakness.
    • Nausea.
    • Vomiting.
    • Chest pain.
    • Confusion.
    • Loss of consciousness.
    • Death.
  • If concern for exposure, get fresh air immediately, call poison control and seek medical attention.

Extreme Heat

  • Heat and humidity brought by the storm worsen with the loss of electricity.
  • Small children, the elderly, and the sick are more vulnerable to extreme heat.
  • Protection against extreme heat:
    • Stay hydrated.
    • Limit time in direct sunlight.
    • Schedule outdoor activities in the morning or evening.
    • Spend time in cool places (mall, library, movies, etc.).
    • Wear sunscreen.
    • Reduce strenuous activities.
    • Take cool showers.
    • Use lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.

Animal Hazards

  • Animals can be forced out of their habitat after a hurricane.
  • Do not corner stray or wild animals.
  • Remove food and water sources that can be used by stray animals.
  • Throw away trash and debris as soon as possible.
  • Snakes may swim in water to get to higher ground.
  • Call local authorities for help removing animal and snakes from home.

Classes to take:

  • First Aid.
  • CPR.
  • Choking.
  • Stop the Bleed.

When to call for help:

  • Serious injury or illness:
    • No response to touch or voice.
    • Cannot move body part.
    • Bleeding heavily.
    • Sudden confusion.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Chest pain.
    • Seizure-like activity.
    • Stroke symptoms:
      • Slurred speech.
      • Ffacial droop.
      • Arm or leg weakness.
  • Unsure what to do.
  • Person in unsafe area or situation.

Cuts and wounds

  • Wash hands with soap and clean water.
  • Avoid touching the wound with exposed hands.
  • Put pressure and elevate extremity to stop bleeding.
  • Clean wound with soap and water.
  • Remove dirt or foreign objects.
  • Pat dry and apply waterproof bandage.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for:
    • Large and deep wounds.
    • Animal or snake bite.
    • Puncture with dirty object.
    • Skin redness.
    • Pus.
    • Fever.
    • Increased pain.
    • Need to update tetanus.

Burns and blisters

  • Possible sources of skin burns: sun, hot water/steam, electricity, chemicals and fire.
  • Wear sunscreen, hat and long sleeves when outside.
  • Apply moisturizer and drink more water.
  • Wash burn with cool water and soap.
  • Put ice pack on area to reduce swelling and pain (limit to 20 minutes at a time).
  • It is safe to apply aloe vera or antibiotic cream (e.g., bacitracin).
  • Do not put on other substances on burn (butter, mayonnaise, etc.).
  • Leave blisters intact and don’t scratch skin.
  • Cover burn with bandage or clean cloth.
  • Seek immediate medical attention:
    • Large or deep burns.
    • Burns to face, genitals, hands, feet, near or on joint.
    • Signs of infection.
    • Need to update tetanus.

Bug bites and stings

  • Remove the stinger by scraping with credit card or similar item.
  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Put ice pack on to reduce swelling and pain (max 20 minutes).
  • Watch out for allergic reaction.
  • Call poison control for advice.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for:
    • Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
    • Swelling of the lips, eyelids, or throat.
    • Hives.
    • Nausea and vomiting.
    • Muscle cramps.
    • Signs of infections.

Eye wash and eye safety

  • Wear safety glasses or goggles to avoid splash from chemical or debris.
  • Do not rub eyes.
  • Flush eyes for at least 15 minutes.
  • Remove contact lenses.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if continued pain.

Sprains and strains

  • Don’t overuse muscles and be aware of surroundings to avoid sudden falls or twisting.
  • Stop activity if painful or swelling.
  • RICE
    • Rest – avoid weight bearing for 48 to 72 hours.
    • Ice – use cold packs (max 20 minutes at a time).
    • Compression – use elastic wrap or bandage.
    • Elevation – place above heart when possible.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for:
    • Bent or deformed bone.
    • Severe pain with touch or movement.
    • Unable to hold bear weight.
    • Numbness or tingling.
    • Sign of infection.

Nose bleeds

  • Sit up and lean forward.
  • Pinch soft part of nose and breathe through mouth.
  • Seek immediate medical attention for:
    • Bleeding >30 minutes.
    • Difficulty breathing.
    • Large amount of blood loss.
    • Dizziness or paleness.

– For specific medical advice, diagnosis.and treatment consult your doctor. –

US Department of Housing and Urban Development 1-800-955-2232
US Postal Service 1-800-275-8777
Social Security Administration 1-800-772-1213
Medicare and Medical Issue 1-800-633-4227
Small Business Administration 1-800-659-2955
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 1-800-621-FEMA or TTY 1-800-462-7585
FEMA, Open Emergency Shelter Text SHELTER and zip code to 43362
SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Hotline 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Salvation Army 1-800-758-2769
American Red Cross 1-800-RED CROSS / 1-800-733-2767
American Red Cross, hurricane or any disaster registry/welfare 1-866-GET-INFO or online at
Poison Control 1-800-222-1222
Emergency Services 911
National Flood Insurance 1-800-720-1090

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