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Hurricane

A hurricane is a type of storm called a tropical cyclone, which is a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms originating over tropical or subtropical waters. This storm involves heavy rains and winds of 74 miles per hour or higher and, in some rare cases, reaches sustained wind speeds of 160 mph. A hurricane can cause extensive wind damage, flash flooding and storm surge. The impacts can include widespread damage or destruction to buildings and infrastructure along with downed trees/power lines, power outages and massive amount of debris on roads. The peak months for hurricanes are August and September; however, hurricane season extends from June 1 to November 30.

It is important to know the difference between a WATCH and a WARNING. A hurricane WATCH means current or developing conditions are possible for a hurricane, but the occurrence is neither certain or imminent. A hurricane WARNING means a hurricane is in progress, imminent or highly likely.

For more information on hurricane hazards, visit: ready.gov/hurricanes

 

Before

Use the following tips to prepare your home, family and pets before a hurricane:

  • Stay Informed through local radio, television or official social media accounts. Download the free HSEMA app or AlertDC to receive updates wherever you are.
  • Build or re-stock your Emergency Kit.
  • Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family members may not all be in one place when disaster strikes.  It is important to know how you will contact one another, how and where you will meet and what you will do in case of an emergency. Plan how to communicate if you lose power.
  • Charge your cell phone so you have a full battery. Consider buying a solar or battery powered phone charger.
  • Fill up your car with gas.
  • Bring pets inside. If instructed to evacuate, take your pets with you.
  • Anchor objects unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks).
  • Bring objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g. patio furniture and garbage cans).
  • If your property is flood-prone, place sandbags in appropriate locations.
  • If you have a generator, prepare it for use. Do not bring a generator inside your home or workplace.

Leave your home and evacuate the area if:

  • You are directed by local police or other authorities.
  • You are in a mobile home or temporary structure - these are extremely dangerous during high wind events and could cause serious damage, no matter how well anchored to the ground it may appear.
  • You are in a high-rise building; hurricane winds are stronger at higher levels.
  • You live along the coast, in a floodplain, near a river or on an island waterway.
  • If you cannot return home and need shelter, follow the official information given to you by the District Government to find the nearest available shelter in your area.

 

During

Use the following tips to keep your home, family, and pets safe during a hurricane:

If you do not evacuate:

  • Stay Informed through local radio, television or official social media accounts. Download the free HSEMA app or AlertDC to receive updates wherever you are. 
  • Stay indoors and away from windows, skylights and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors – secure and brace external doors.
  • Turn off gas, water, and power if you are directed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to the coldest setting and keep doors closed.
  • Fill a clean bathtub and other larger containers with water as water service may be interrupted.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed.
  • Take shelter in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
  • If you are in a multi-story building, go to the first floor.
  • Avoid using elevators.
  • If the eye of the storm passes over your area, there will be a short period of calm. However, on the other side of the eye, the wind speed rapidly increases to hurricane force winds coming from the opposite direction. Stay indoors until officials inform you that it is safe to return outdoors.

 

After

Use the following tips to help your home, family and pets recover safely after a hurricane:

  • Stay Informed through local radio, television or official social media accounts. Download the free HSEMA app or AlertDC to receive updates wherever you are. 
  • If you evacuated, wait for authorities to give you the okay to return home. 
  • If you cannot return home and need shelter, follow the official information given to you by the District Government to find the nearest available shelter in your area.
  • Stay alert for extra rainfall and flooding after the storm has ended.
  • Communicate with family members and friends.
    • If you have a cell phone, call, text, email or use social media.
    • If you have access to a computer, use an online registry such as the Red Cross website, “Safe and Well”. 
    • If you do not have a cell phone, use social media apps on personal gaming or tablet devices.
    • If you do not have access to technology, go to your pre-designated meeting place for you to reconnect with family members or consider relaying information through friends, family or even your workplace.
  • Check on your neighbors. Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children, the elderly or people with disabilities or access and functional needs.
  • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters.
    • Just six inches of moving water can knock you down and fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
    • It may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.
  • Report any downed power lines around your home and neighborhood immediately.
  • Walk carefully around the outside of your home and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage before entering.
  • Keep your pets under your direct control.
  • Watch for poisonous snakes. Use a stick to poke through debris rather than stepping into debris which may contain hidden risks.
  • Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain around the building, or if your home was damaged by fire.
  • Check your home for damage and photograph the damage in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
  • Collect and/or move structural debris away from walkways and other places that may pose a risk to you and your family. For debris disposal, follow infromation given to you by the District Government.
  • Wait for the okay before drinking tap water
  • Please refer to the District Department of Energy & Environment guidance for flooding/flood zone information.

Additional Resources

nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php
ready.gov/hurricanes
redcross.org/prepare/disaster/hurricane
nhc.noaa.gov/