Preparing for a hurricane is probably not at the top of our minds when we’re rushing around barely able to keep up with our normal day-to-day crush of activities.
Of course, as soon as we hear that the next hurricane is bearing down on our city, neighborhood, and home, it achieves a new level of urgency. By that time, it’s too late to do much more than evacuate or take shelter.
So what are the signs that you’re not prepared? And more importantly, how can you be prepared for the next hurricane?
What is a Hurricane?
Hurricanes are intense tropical storms with sustained winds above 74 mph. That’s a Category 1 hurricane. You can find the five categories of hurricanes listed below along with the type of damage to expect.
|Hurricane Category||Sustained Winds||Expected Damage|
|1||74 to 95 mph||Some damage to roof, vinyl siding, gutters, trees toppled, branches down, power lines and poles down, power loss for a few to several days.|
|2||96 to 110 mph||Extensive damage to frame homes and trees, power poles down, power loss for days to weeks.|
|3||111 to 129 mph||Devastating damage, loss of roof and gable ends, trees and power poles down, loss of both power and water for weeks.|
|4||130 to 156 mph||Catastrophic damage, loss of roof and some walls, most trees and power poles down, loss of power for weeks or months. Area uninhabitable for weeks or months.|
|5||157 mph or higher||High percentage of frame homes destroyed with total roof failure and wall collapse. Power out for weeks or months. Area uninhabitable.|
Source: OSHA Hurricane Preparedness https://www.osha.gov/hurricane/preparedness
The terrifying characteristic of hurricanes, as documented in the chart above, is the ferocious winds. Just as damaging are the storm surges, heavy rains, flooding, and even tornadoes. All these can happen even without the hurricane hitting the shore.
While storm surge is the leading cause of hurricane-related fatalities, second is flooding from heavy rains. Flooding can occur hundreds of miles from the coast and last for days, well after the hurricane has moved on.
Do Hurricanes Hit North Carolina?
They certainly do hit North Carolina. Since records have been kept beginning in 1851, 58 hurricanes have hit our state, including seven that exceeded Category 3 winds of 111 to 129 mph.
For further confirmation, see our article Worst U.S. Cities for Hurricane Damage. There you’ll find that the top three cities most frequently hit by hurricanes are: Cape Hatteras, Morehead City, and Wilmington.
Signs You’re Not Prepared
It’s clear that hurricanes are deadly dangerous. For that reason alone, you’ll need to do your very best to protect your family and home.
Here are the signs that you’re not prepared and what you can do about it.
- No family emergency plan. Any plan deals with who does what and when. It also deals with what to do at home, at work, and at school. Ready.gov has a superb family emergency plan as an excellent starting point to building your own plan.
- No emergency home shelter. Looking out the window at a coming hurricane is absolutely not the right approach. You’ll need to designate an interior room without windows to protect your family from high winds. Stock it with supplies and let your family know where to gather.
- No emergency supplies on hand. The resulting damage from a hurricane to your community could mean that you’re confined to your emergency shelter for days. Given that, it’s critical to stock your shelter with food, water, a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries, charged cell phones, prescription medications, pet food, sleeping bags, personal hygiene items, and more. Ready.gov has a detailed listing of basic disaster supply kits.
- No weather monitoring system. As noted above, looking out the window into 100-mph winds is not going to work. From your family emergency shelter, use a battery-powered NOAA weather radio or smartphone app to keep up to date with the weather. Only venture outside when it is safe.
- No evacuation information. Even with a family shelter, it may not be safe to stay at home. There could also be evacuation orders for your community. You’ll need information on shelters, travel routes, and alternate routes in case of road closures. It’s also a good idea to have a set of emergency supplies to take with you to the shelter.
- No home preparation. It’s essential to keep up with regular home maintenance. Hurricane winds and rain can quickly overcome a poorly maintained home. Keep your roof in repair. Trim trees to prevent branches from falling on your home. Make sure your basement or crawl space is waterproof with the necessary drainage systems. A sump pump with battery backup is essential during power outages. Use storm shutters or cover windows with plywood. Install a wind-load garage door or use a hurricane shutter.
For more advice on hurricane preparation, see our articles Hurricane Preparedness Week in North Carolina and 4 Tips to Prepare Your North Carolina Home for Hurricane Season.
We Can Help
We can also help identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that should be addressed before a hurricane arrives. For a free inspection and repair estimate, contact the professionals at Tar Heel Basement Systems.