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How to Prepare for a Hurricane

Be Ready, Be Prepared

The hurricane season in the Atlantic begins in June and lasts until November. The peak time for these storms is in mid-August to late October. In the Eastern Pacific, hurricane season is a bit longer, starting May 15 and lasting until November 30.

Hurricanes can cause billions of dollars in damage. With winds that can top 155 miles [249.45 kilometers] per hour, hurricanes can spawn tornadoes, heavy rainfall and catastrophic storm surges. A hurricane can turn a telephone pole, lawn furniture and fence posts into flying weapons. Torrential rain can trigger mudslides and landslides. Flooding can wipe out entire communities. Sounds like the end of the days, doesn't it? The key in surviving a hurricane is to be prepared.

One of the first things you should do is build an emergency kit that will last you several days after a storm. Stock your kits with enough food, water, clothes, medicine and other essentials well before a hurricane strikes. You might be on your own for a few days, so pack a bag and be ready [source:].

Know your house. Does it sit in a flood plain? Are you on top of a hill? Perhaps you live near the beach, or on the side of a hill. Most damage from hurricanes occurs from flooding and tidal surges. Remember New Orleans after Katrina? The city survived high winds and blinding rain, only to be swamped by a storm surge. The surge was too much for the city's levees. When they gave way, much of the Big Easy was underwater.

Protect your property. Cover all windows. Boarding up the windows with 5/8-inch marine plywood is OK, but permanent storm shutters offer the best protection. Broken windows increase the chances of severe structural damage during a hurricane. Storm shutters are the most reliable way of protecting windows and doors. Made from aluminum or steel, the shutters are attached to the outside of the house. When a storm arrives, you simply roll the metal curtain down. The shutters cost roughly $60 per square foot of window [source: FEMA].