How To Survive A Catastrophic Hurricane
With Hurricane Harvey’s dire effects still being felt in south Texas/Louisiana and Hurricane Irma building as a major threat to the state of Florida, hurricane preparedness has never been more relevant. Knowing how to survive a hurricane may prove to be essential information. Some of you may be reading this and thinking, why not just evacuate? That’s of course, the best move, but only if it makes logical sense. Hurricane Irma preparedness is proving that the decision of whether or not to evacuate is a challenging one. Hurricane Irma could make landfall at Miami, Sarasota or Jacksonville. It could even make landfall as far as the Carolinas, or Maine. Florida, for all intents and purposes, is one large island. The state is surrounded by water. South Florida, which is flanked by the Everglades, is in even more of a precarious position. If someone evacuates Hurricane Irma via car, they could be driving directly into more danger. There just aren’t enough details as of yet to make a great decision here, unless someone intends to drive to say, Tennessee. By the time there is enough information, roads could be jammed for hours. This could mean having to survive a hurricane.
Evacuate If In Low Lying Areas, Or Mandatorily Told To Do So
First and foremost, if you are told by local officials and police that your evacuation is mandatory, you need to leave. This isn’t up for debate. And you should have made this plan well before any impending hurricane. Mandatory hurricane evacuation zones are known before you buy or lease property in them. Typically, this is coastal areas or areas flanked by dangerous flooding potential or low lying regions prone to flooding. If you choose to stay during a mandatory evacuation, you seriously place your well being in harm’s way.
This article is for those who are unable to evacuate.
How To Survive A Hurricane – What Are Your Threats?
The first thing you need to understand is that a hurricane presents a number of detrimental, life endangering issues.
- Wind (During Hurricane)
- Water (During Hurricane)
- Loss Of Modern Goods And Services (Post-Hurricane)
- Civil Unrest
Hurricane flooding kills more people than any other way. It is vitally important to account for rising waters. The speed of the hurricane could become a driving factor behind how much rain water you collect. Your proximity to surging tides, lakes, ponds, rivers and creeks can also determine your risk factor for hurricane flooding. If you are new to hurricane country, you need to grasp this concept.
We have supply list items below, however, the following is the basic things you need to consider for how to survive a hurricane.
You need to expect extremely dangerous winds, storm surges, rain downpours, potential lightning and tornadoes (how to survive a tornado). Even if it is just a tropical storm, all these threats remain in play. Additionally, if a tropical storm moves extraordinarily slow, it could be more damaging and life threatening than a faster-moving hurricane. Wind and water can be life threatening, no matter what the circumstances are.
Hurricane Prepper Mode
You need to secure your property. Use plywood or hurricane shutters to protect windows from flying debris. If debris compromises a window, that allows for water to invade your personal belongings and potentially ruin your flooring, furniture, and electronics. If you are remaining inside the home, it is even more important that you secure the premises to give yourself the highest rate of survival possible.
If it is at all possible, fasten your roof down. Putting hurricane shutters up, or plywood on windows can help to reduce dangerous air flow from entering the home. If airflow begins to readily flow through your home, the air will look to escape. And that escape may be by ripping the roof off. This can happen even if you took proper precautions with plywood or shutters, so if you can, strap that roof down. Don’t strap the roof down and not board up the windows, that would still expose you to all the risk acquired by not boarding up.
Trimming trees around the home (or removing them if possible). Here’s the thing, don’t trim branches and then leave those branches lying around your yard, you would just be serving up the hurricane with debris. If you are staying during the hurricane, your goal in trimming trees is to reduce the associated with flying debris. So make sure after trimming branches that you remove them from the property.
Attend to your gutters. Unclog any gutters that have built up twigs and trash and leaves in them. Give the drains at least a little chance to take on the initial onslaught of water.
If you have a boat, consider your options. As a boat owner, you should already have a SHTF plan, so I’m not going to go there.
Build a prepper safe room. I realize that you can’t suddenly build a mega-bunker, but you should still infuse one room with all the prepper needs to survive. This will be the room you run to. Please see the hurricane supply list below and consider storing those items in your hurricane safe room. If things get hairy, this is the room you run to.
Documents, hard drives, TVs, should all be elevated. Anticipate flooding. Even if you are on a higher floor, a breach in the home can still push water into the premises. Things need to be raised up so they aren’t ruined by any water. If you have TVs or computers near windows, even though you boarded those windows up, you should move them away to a place that is far from the window and elevated. If a window is breached, DO NOT RUN TO SAVE YOUR ITEMS. Running towards a shattered window during tropical storm force winds or hurricane force winds could place your life in danger. Remember, if you get cut by glass, you can’t get a medic.
Make sure you have fuel in your vehicles. If possible, have back up fuel available.
Make sure you have a SHTF bug out bag that allows you to run at a moments notice. I’m not talking about running during the storm (although, fires do happen during hurricanes and you could be left with little choice). I am talking about after the storm. If civil unrest takes hold, or more flooding happens (remember, lots of flooding can follow a hurricane as levees are either breached or released – or if flood waters make way down rivers) you will need to grab your bug out bag and hit the road.
Civil unrest, such as looting and violent crime, could become your dystopian reality following a major hurricane. I recommend that you have a way to defend yourself for weeks. This is a touchy subject, but the fact is, when the system is broken, there will be desperate criminals and opportunist criminals on the loose. The fact is, being armed yourself can prevent you from even being a target.
How To Survive A Hurricane When It Hits
So you’ve made all the precautions to secure your premises. You have your hurricane supply list (see below). Now, the waiting game begins. If you are on the dirty side of the hurricane, which is left side, for lack of better description, you will get intense bands of storms. Once the constant wind sets in, stay close to home and don’t venture out because conditions will worsen at a faster rate than you’d likely anticipate. I recommend closing all doors. And do not open the refrigerator unless you have to.
You must stay away from windows. Even though you have plywood or hurricane shutters up, a breach could kill you if you are standing or sitting near a window. Expect a loss of power and have your flashlights handy. Make sure you aren’t wasting battery life on anything. Sure, you iPhone and laptop may die eventually, but no reason to waste them while the storm is happening. The goal is to hope your phone works following the storm and that you have some battery and signal available.
If there is a breach, go to your safe room. If you can’t, protect your head. You can crawl under a table until the situation resolves itself. You can also head to a closet or a hallway.
You should expect a roaring noise to build, it will sound like a train. You can expect the sounds of debris crashing. You can also expect vibrations which are a result of the property taking on so much wind. Because you’ve secured the windows, the wind will press the property and look for access inside (easiest route). The wind climbing and retracting on exterior walls may cause vibrations and increased noise. At this point, do not panic. At this point, do not get curious and go look outside. These are both dangerous instincts to have. This is everything a prepper should not do. You need to minimize the potential for any injuries because any injury presents life threatening danger because you aren’t going to be able to get any medical help. Allow the hurricane to pass.
Monitor the hurricane and local instructions on your portable radio.
After the hurricane ends, expect civil unrest. Do not walk outside without expecting both flood waters and potential criminal activity. I’m not trying to express fear mongering sentiments, most likely things will be fine. But not expecting it could place your life at risk. Criminals will be well aware of the initial opportunities right when the hurricane tapers off. These hours following will be less secured by police and many people may be too frightened to protect themselves. Criminals will seize this opportunity. Make sure you fully understand this before you walk outside.
Check on the elderly or those you feel might not have faired as well. Single moms with kids, those with disabilities and those who maybe aren’t competent preppers. But pay attention to structures before you enter them as they might be compromised. There may be people with medical needs, so make sure you have first aid. Additionally, leave your property with caution. Use your instincts by paying attention to the surroundings.
Prepper Hurricane Supply List
You still may have time to place an Amazon order, however, your best option remains physically buying good from a local store, pending they still have items in stock. I will place some Amazon links, but I think most of this stuff is just obvious and subjective to preference. I just look for cheapest, yet most effective, options.
- Flashlights (tactical flashlight on Amazon)
- Radio (you may have no other communication outside of radio use) (weather radio on Amazon)
- Batteries (radio, flashlight, etc.)
- Water (make sure you get bottled water, additionally, you should try to get a filter such as a Berkey Bottle)
- Food (canned goods, think fish, think beans, soups, etc.). Check out my prepper food supply guide for more extensive details.
- Fire extinguisher (people often forget that during a major catastrophe, such as a hurricane, you can experience fire) (Fire extinguisher on Amazon)
- Matches (you might need to create fire for various reasons, you could also have a few lighters for good measure)
- Garbage bags
- First aid kit (first aid kit on Amazon)
- Can opener (not electric)
- Rain gear
- Work gloves
- Bug repellent
- Feminine hygiene products
- SHTF Gun (civil unrest is a bad thing, see St. Martin’s civil war following Hurricane Irma)
Hurricane Prepper Animal List
More often than not, pet owners forget about our furry friends. Sometimes that’s through carelessness, other times that is due to just forgetting about their needs due to stress. Prep for your pets. Here are some initial thoughts.
- Animal medications
- Dry food (cat, dog, etc.)
- Additional water for animals
- Crate for travel (emergency travel should be considered)
- Medical documents
- Toys, blankets, chew items
Again, the best option is to leave. But the worst option is to leave too late and get trapped in a car or drive to a worse destination. Leaving earlier and getting more inland is the best option. Be a prepper, be smart, don’t make dumb mistakes. Mother nature is a true beast and she will always win. Taking her own is never the wisest decision.
Author: Cory Wayne
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.