How to Survive a Hurricane 

 November 10, 2020

By  Mike Millerson

Years ago, hurricanes could bring a lot of destruction to people’s lives and property: they could fall from the sky any time and take the roof of the house with the strong downburst, flood it with the rain, leading to massive landfalls. Nowadays, natural disaster prediction systems get more and more accurate and sophisticated because of the growing technological level. Using some tips from these sections below could upper your chances to survive a hurricane or have the best possible conditions to do so. This article will walk you through the basics of hurricane survival: you will learn how to survive the storm, staying inside your home. You will also find out the tips on outdoor hurricane survival and learn some facts about the dangers of strong winds and hurricanes.

Know Your Enemy

Hurricane itself is far more dangerous for you and your home than regular subtropical or tropical storm. It consists of multiple thunderstorms that reach a wast area that cyclone covers. It is not just high winds with massive torrential rainfalls: the wind speeds must be above 74 miles per hour (119 km/h) and could even lead to massive storm surges. All hurricanes are originally named, categorized, and followed by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. For example, Hurricane Katrina formed as Tropical Depression Twelve over the southeastern Bahamas on August 23, 2005, was monitored from where it began but still became the costliest and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States. So if you live near the hurricane area such as Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas or you make plans for a vacation in those areas during the hurricane season, combining it with the Covid pandemic situation leaves you no choice but to get prepared to meet hurricanes in the future.

Hurricanes are rated by wind speeds in 5 categories:

  • Category 1 = 74-95mph
  • Category 2 = 96-110mph
  • Category 3 = 111-130mph
  • Category 4 = 131-155mph
  • Category 5 = 156+ mph

Before the Storm

To succeed in hurricane survival, you need to remember that hurricanes with storms and high winds may pass briefly. Still, the consequences may have an effect on your regular family life for a relatively long period. Make sure that every member of your family knows about the hurricane aftermath and realizes the kind of danger you’re all going to deal with. This will help you to decide a team: whether you decide to stay home or to evacuate to a safe area or an emergency shelter nearby.

1. Evacuate

First, if you’re directed to evacuate by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or think that you and your family will not be safe in your home, you should leave.

If you intend to drive out of the hurricane area, you’ll need:

  • to make a family disaster plan (decide what exits and routes you will take when the storm hits; agree on a place to meet if something goes wrong; make sure that even the youngest of your loved ones knows every detail of the emergency plan and the safety guidelines)
  • a decent road map to plan the route
  • to leave early
  • to fill up your gas tank
  • to keep clear of the traffic jams
  • to avoid major bodies of water (high winds could lead to the storm surge that could flood the roads)
  • to move in the hurricane’s opposite direction for a few hundred miles
  • Take only what you need, like your cellphone, cash, identification, prescribed meds, dry clothes, emergency kit, and a first aid kit.
  • to don’t leave your pets behind (they could die or get hurt if they have no way to escape the house)
  • to drive to the nearest American Red Cross center outside the hurricane area, if you have got nowhere else to go
  • to avoid downed power lines
  • to stay away from windows of the car while driving and keep the doors and windows closed


2. Don’t Remain In Your Car

Remember! Make sure you don’t stay in your car during the hurricane! Strong winds could overthrow and ever lift a vehicle in the air! You’ll need to find a parking spot located on higher ground to stay safe: it could be a covered parking garage or any available parking area situated on a higher floor.

3. Stay Home

National Hurricane Center advice is to be ready before the start of hurricane season, i.e., June 1. If you choose to stay home, you’ll need to be sure that your house is fully protected and prepared to face a hurricane when the hurricane watch is issued. Houses are designed as closed systems, and being shut tight is how they best withstand wind pressure. If flying debris busts a window or fierce winds kick in a door, the winds rushing inside will push the roof, trying to lift it, while the winds on the outside will create suction. This is a bad combination: once the roof is torn off the house, it becomes exposed to the storm’s effects. However, home is considered the best place to while the hurricane and wait till the storm has passed.

4. Be Prepared

If you have a decent amount of time to prepare (at least 24 hours), you might want to make sure the outdoor interiors of your home can handle hurricane survival:

  • clear out the debris
  • cut the old trees and the branches that are likely to fall when a hurricane hits
  • improve the frame structure of your house
  • secure your roof to the house frame using metal braces, straps, or clips
  • improve your home’s windows, glass doors, and skylights (you can install the impact-resistant glass)
  • close the storm shutters, if you have them (storm shutters are among the best ways to keep your windows and doors safe even against strong winds)
  • board up or tape up your windows using plywood or alligator tape to avoid wind damage
  • secure and clean rain gutters and downspouts
  • turn off all propane tanks
  • check the garage doors (flying garage door can destroy your home; board any gaps between the door and the ground and keep it fully closed)
  • consider buying a generator (during the hurricane, power lines, go down and you might need an extra electricity supply; remember to keep it dry, grounded, and outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning)
  • determine to secure your vessel, if you own a boat
  • consider building a safe room and using an independent water filtration system
  • have a wood-burning camp stove on hand (electricity and natural gas may be out for several days or weeks; in cases when you’re in the flooded house with no firewood on hand, you can burn clothes, books, furniture to cook and stay warm)
  • purchase a fire extinguisher (downed power lines can cause fires; during the Katrina Hurricane, there were cases when gas communications got destroyed and the gas ignited, burning the houses and causing fires)

5. Check the Indoors

When you are done with this step, you might need to check your home’s indoors to stay safe during the hurricane survival. Assess your home interior room for the things that might come in handy during the storm.

The best way is first to create a hurricane emergency kit:

  • consider having enough food and water that allows you and your family members to survive for at least three days (for pets, too)
  • use a portable radio that works on batteries to stay updated with the hurricane movement
  • buy some efficient battery-powered or kinetic or kinetic lights (keep the batteries in a container that is waterproofed)
  • buy some glowsticks instead
  • fill up bottles with drinking water (you’ll need about a gallon of drinking water per day, per person, and even more if you may want to cook or was)
  • also, you can disinfect the bathtub and other large contents with a big holding capacity and fill them with water to make extra sources for drinking, bathing, and toilet flushing after the hurricane hits
  • turn off utilities (turn off your home’s electricity to prevent electrical hazards)
  • shut off the main water valve to prevent the flood inside the house caused by broken plumbing
  • make an inventory of your possessions (you might need it for the insurance company later)
  • take copies of your important documents like driver license, social security number, and identification card (upload them online and keep hard copies in places where the floodwater couldn’t reach them)
  • place all of the household chemicals on high shelves and ensure they have tight caps (chemicals can mix with floodwater and become hazardous)
  • put valuable things on high shelves or higher ground in your house to keep them waterproofed

6. Consider a Saferoom

If you are lucky enough to have a basement in your house, it is undoubtedly the place to hide from the hurricane. Make sure that your basement is protected from the flood waters and lift the valuables from the basement floor. Also, there could be a residential safe room inside the house. Most of these rooms are concretely hardened to withstand the federal government’s criteria for an extreme weather event, like a tornado or hurricane. They could be retrofitted or added to a house.

Also, if you can’t afford to build a certified safe room, you’ll need to search for information about the federal government’s funding programs. If you don’t have either of the options listed above, pick the one small interior room in your house with no windows or skylight, like a closet, and hide in there when the hurricane hits. If you feel that there is no room in your house where you feel safe during the storm, you can head to the community shelter. In hurricane areas, like Florida, emergency shelters are opened for people to stay safe. Get to your shelter at least 2 hours before the storm hits. Remember to take the emergency items with you and keep away from the power lines and the trees while moving to the nearest shelter.

During the Storm

Whether your shelter is ready or not, or do you have all the supplies needed: when the hurricane hits, you need to stay where you are right in this given moment. Many people who died during the storms got swept away by storm surges and flooding waters when trying to get to their home and family. Do not even try to walk or drive through the flooding waters! The water moves so fast that even six inches of it could knock the grown person off its feet. Likewise, it takes only one foot of moving water to sweep a vehicle away. Stay alert until the storm has passed, avoid the vicinity of flood waters, and wait till the storm subsides in a safe area.

1. Keep Safe

If you already are in a safe place, following these tips can help you to keep yourself and your loved ones safe:

  • stay inside your home until you’ve received the all-clear from the appropriate authorities
  • go to the highest level of the building. If the flooding traps you
  • stay away from the windows and the glass doors, even if they are closed with hurricane shutters (broken glass and flying debris provide the greatest risk in a hurricane)
  • try to lie on the floor of your home under the table or other heavy piece of furniture to add some protection
  • turn the main electrical breaker off
  • unplug all the electrical appliances in your home
  • try not to use any electrical devices (even the phone)
  • do not take a shower or bath during the storm (the electrical charge could travel through the plumbing, which could easily lead to death by an electric shock if your house got struck by lightning)
  • keep the home refrigerator closed to delay the spoilage of perishable food because of cold air trapped inside of it
  • treat possible injuries as best you can with a first aid kit (when the hurricane hits, social services could get unavailable: you may need to take full care of yourself and family until the emergency personnel gets to you)
  • follow the manufacturer’s instructions while using the portable generators at home

2. Mind the Eye of the Storm

Do not be fooled by the eye of the storm! The thing is a core part of a hurricane located in its center, where the weather is relatively mild and calm. Sometimes this area is several miles across, but the turmoil surrounds it. Individual effects caused by storms within the hurricane may manifest as heavy rain, tornados, lightning, hail, and downbursts on vast territories, just except the hurricane’s eye that tends to be calm. If it passes over you, instead of storm noise, thunder and rain, you’ll start to hear weird silence, but do not rush outside! The short break could last anywhere from two to 30 minutes. As soon as the hurricane moves, the storm’s eye will quickly pass, and the high winds will whip again.

3. Be Ready for Tornadoes

The definition of a tornado, given by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is a destructive windstorm noticeable by a twisting cloud in the shape of a tunnel. It is resulted in a thunderstorm (or sometimes a hurricane) and starts when cool air overrides the steam of warm air, making the warm air rise. A tornado creates wind high of extra velocity. Twisters can approach speeds of 320 mph at their top – enough power to compete with the best-constructed brick walls, lift large homes from their foundations up in the air, and throw semi-tractor-trailer truck a distance of about 300 feet.

We gathered some signs of an Impending Tornado below:

  • the sky turns to a swampy-green or even black color
  • you can hear a sound, like a distant waterfall, that changes and gets louder, like a train
  • you can see a weird-shaped cloud moving fast in a rotating motion or moving fast
  • debris are dropping from the sky
  • eerie moment of silence after a thunderstorm
  • you can feel the unusual fresh smell in the air

I also need to mention that if you see a tornado and it does not seem to move to the right or left when viewed in relation to trees and other surroundings in the distance, it is probably headed toward your home now. Compare to the hurricane you don’t have that much time to prepare. The needed conditions for a hurricane are usually spotted even several days before one develops, but tornadoes will not give you this luxury of time. These things can hit fast — dropping out of the sky and taking out whatever happens to be waiting on the earth below. You should always be aware of that.

After the Storm

1. Things to Consider

Follow the tips in a block below to be sure that it all will end well for your family:

  • keep informed on any changes in weather by listening to the radio, television, or various official social media sources available
  • stay put until you receive the message from the authorities that it is all safe and follow the given instructions
  • wear protective clothing, such as a hard hat, gloves, boots, safety glasses, and a dust mask
  • work together with your family and neighbors to weather the storm (prevent the following tragedies and make the authorities aware of hazards in your community, for example, downed power lines, broken gas lines, broken water mains, overturned gas tanks)
  • avoid trudging through flood water (downed power lines can electrically charge the water, leading to a risk of electrocution; the threats hiding under a calm surface of the water can bring physical harm and remain unseen)
  • communicate through text and social media instead of calls (phone lines may get overloaded in this kind of situations)
  • stay positive and patient (the whole situation can get you out of your nerves, but remember that your calmness and supportive spirit can elevate people to help each other and even might save someone’s life)

2. Returning to your Property After a Hurricane:

If you decided or were directed to evacuate, it’s essential to take the time to consider what you need before you return to your home. Return to your property only after authorities officially claim it the all-clear. The hurricane may have produced dangerous and potentially unsafe circumstances, such as downed wires, broken power lines, ignited gas leaks, flooded areas, damaged trees, and broken branches that block the road. Even the navigation systems could direct you in the wrong way because of debris blockages.

3. Keep Tabs on the Storm

Remain cautious and follow these tips to return to your home safety:

  • do not energize electrical or electronic equipment that may have suffered water damage without first having it inspected and tested by a qualified electrician
  • if a gas leak is suspected, stay out of the property until the utility company deems it safe
  • if you have found a dangerous spot, try to let other people know by signing the place (a simple “Keep Away” sign will do)
  • check the interiors of your house for any traces of wildlife (a surprisingly enormous amount of snakes could appear in homes after the disaster)
  • arrange for reasonable temporary repairs to protect your home from further damage and prevent vandalism (keep accurate records of any expenses incurred to your temporary repairs)
  • pump out flooded basements
  • document conditions and promptly report the claim, if your property has been damaged
  • if you think that your home is unsafe and too damaged by the hurricane to return to, claim the insurance company for a temporary place to stay

4. Follow the Recommendations

Keep this in mind, and your family’s chances to be safe from the storm will increase multiple times. We hope this article gave you a decent definition of how to survive a hurricane. Following these simple rules will maximize your chances of surviving a hurricane and help you save your property. Remember such important things as food and water, a first-aid kit, stay away from windows while you stay inside whiling the storm, keep a fire extinguisher at hand, and follow the tips from this article.


These tips mentioned above can substantially maximize your chances of survival during hurricanes and the dangers they entail. Avoid nearing flood waters, tape windows of your household if you are to weather the storm inside, and be observant until the storm has passed. Reread this article one more time to ensure you know all about safety amid hurricanes! We hope you will never have to apply your skills and knowledge in an emergency, but these tips will be of use once the threat arises.

Mike Millerson

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