Use this Countdown as the Best Way to Prepare for a Hurricane

Here’s your game plan for what you need to do and when.

Hurricane Irma Strikes South Florida
Warren FaidleyGetty Images

The bad news about a hurricane is that one is coming. The good news is that you usually have time to prepare, so here are the steps you should take to make sure you’re not running around at the last minute:

48 Hours Ahead

• Secure your windows so that nothing crashes into your house, where it could hurt someone. See our tips here.

• Fill up the gas tank. There are probably many people doing this, so the earlier you do it, the less likely you’re going to be stuck in long lines at the gas station (and you’ll probably avoid any price gouging, too).

• Bring anything that isn’t nailed down indoors. Practically anything can become a projectile missile when it’s picked up and thrown about by 100+ mph winds.

Objects from Hurricane Andrew slam into palm trees and other surfaces.
FEMA

36 Hours Ahead

• Stock up on food to last at least three days, especially food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated or frozen: bread, fruit, canned goods, etc. You want to open your refrigerator as little as possible if the power goes out, so that perishables like milk can last longer. Again, lots of people are probably doing this, too, so head to the grocery store sooner than later to avoid the lines.


24 Hours Ahead

• Restock all of your emergency supplies: first aid, medications, flashlights, battery-operated radio, portable stove, etc.

• Check that your carbon monoxide detector is in working order with fresh batteries.

• Find out where your nearest emergency shelters are, just in case you need to evacuate from your home because of flooding or carbon monoxide leakage.


12 Hours Ahead

• Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and only open them when absolutely necessary.

• Back up all your power: Charge all of your batteries. Remember, you may be without electricity for some time, so purchase extra batteries for your cell phone, laptop, radio and whatever else you need, and make sure they are fully charged.

• Pack spare clothing and supplies into an overnight bag in case you need to evacuate. Set it somewhere easily reachable but high enough above any potential flooding level.

• Review your emergency plan with your immediate family and relatives farther away, so that everyone knows what to do and how to communicate with each other. Keep in mind that texts are more likely to get through because phone lines and cell phone towers may get overwhelmed.


6 Hours Ahead

• Turn on the radio or check online every half hour to get the latest news and instructions for your area.

For more detailed instructions, including how to check your insurance, check out the tips here and here.

If you’re instructed to evacuate, be prepared to do so immediately, shutting off all water, electricity, and gas. Hopefully, if you need to shelter in place, you will be safe to ride it out in your own home.

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