Storm FAQ

For more information on how to be prepared for any disaster, visit www.ready.gov/

Should I stay or should I go?

If you have been ordered to evacuate, go. Be prepared to be gone at least 24 to 48 hours. If you stay, keep in mind that bridges and causeways likely will be shut down when winds reach about 40 mph.

I’m riding it out at home. What’s the best advice?

  • Make sure windows are protected.
  • Clear the yard of potential flying debris.
  • Stay away from windows, skylights and glass doors. Find an interior,  reinforced room, closet or bathroom on the lower floor.
  • If you lose power, turn off major appliances, including the air conditioner  and water heater, to reduce damage.
  • If flooding threatens, turn off electricity at the main breaker.

Does taping windows really do anything?

Taping windows won’t keep them from breaking. Some people say it lessens the amount of glass blowing around, others say it’s a waste of time and effort because it provides no protection from flying debris. Storm shutters or plywood are better.

Should I drain water from my pool?

  • Never empty your pool. It could experience structural problems and even pop out of the ground.
  • If your pool is properly equipped with adequate drains and skimmers and the surrounding area is properly drained, the water level probably can be left as is.
  • Add extra chlorine to prevent contamination.
  • If the water supply fails, the pool can be a handy source of water for washing or flushing toilets.
  • If you can’t store patio chairs, tables and pool equipment inside, put them in the pool.

Without power, will refrigerated food last?

  • In a full freezer, food will stay frozen for about two days. In a half-full freezer, food will stay frozen for about one day.
  • Perishable foods in the refrigerator that have been kept above 40 degrees for more than two hours should be thrown out.
  • Cover the freezer with blankets, but be sure to keep the air vent uncovered.
  • Food will stay cold four to six hours.

What about phones? Will cell phone towers get wiped out?

  • Two important things to have on hand are a corded landline phone and a car charger for your cell phone.
  • A power outage won’t directly affect landline phone service, but it will knock out electrically powered cordless phones.
  • Similarly, cell towers are less vulnerable to storm winds than utility poles. But a power outage will make it impossible to keep your cell phone charged without extra, charged batteries, or a car charger.
  • If you run into network congestion on your cell phone, try sending a text message, which requires less bandwith and has a better chance of getting through.

What can I do about my animals?

If you need to evacuate, don’t leave your pet behind. Most emergency shelters don’t allow pets, so you might have to turn to friends or family for help. Area animal shelters do not accept pets during hurricanes.

Can I get money from my bank?

Probably through your ATM. Banks will typically urge customers to use telephone or internet banking.

What documents should I take with me?

A list might include:

  • checkbook
  • safe deposit key
  • financial center locations and phone numbers
  • birth, death and marriage certificates
  • will/power of attorney
  • Social Security card/records
  • military records
  • medical records (living will or other medical powers)
  • insurance policies
  • checking and savings account statements
  • retirement account records
  • pay stubs
  • tax returns
  • car titles and registrations
  • mortgage deeds or rental agreements
  • warranties and receipts
  • credit card records
  • loan records
  • list of important phone numbers (relatives, bank and insurance company)

Is there an emergency radio station?

People with weather radios can tune to NOAA Weather Radio, a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information direct from a nearby National Weather Service office. For regular radio listeners, your local news and weather radio stations have regular updates.

Should I talk about the potential dangers of the storm with my children?

Honesty really is the best policy. Tell them what’s happening, involve them in preparations and have plenty of board games on hand if the electricity goes out. Above all, experts advise, keep yourself calm and children will follow your guide.

How can I avoid getting electrocuted?

  • Shut off power at the circuit breaker panel or fuse box BEFORE water enters your home.
  • Never replace a fuse or touch a circuit breaker with wet hands or while standing on a wet or damp surface.
  • Steer clear of all downed power lines and anything in contact with a downed line. A downed wire doesn’t have to snap or spark to be dangerous.
  • Don’t drive over a downed power line. Don’t get out of your car anywhere near a downed power line, because water on the ground can conduct electricity.

What should I do if the power goes out?

Notify your electric utility. Do not follow up with repeated phone calls for the status of power restoration efforts. For updates, refer to radio and TV broadcasts, or follow your utility on social media.

My store ran out of bottled water. What can I do?

  • To purify water, add quarter-teaspoon of unscented liquid chlorine laundry bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. Boiling water for 10 minutes is the best purification.
  • For drinking, before the storm arrives freeze as much water as you can in any container you can find. Store 1 gallon of water per person per day. A three-day supply of water (3 gallons) should be stored for each family member.
  • For washing and flushing, store water in bathtub or sinks. Sponge the tub with a solution of liquid bleach and water. Use a shower curtain to cover the drain or caulk the drain.

My car flooded. What should I do?

  • Don’t start it. Wait to have it towed to a mechanic.
  • If it was built after the late 1980’s, the mechanic should check out the engine management system, the computer black box that controls most functions.
  • The exhaust system and brakes may need attention. If water entered the brake fluid system, the brakes could fail. The oil pan is the lowest part of the engine, and water may have seeped into it; change the oil and filter.
  • If water got into the interior, remove all carpeting and let it dry thoroughly.
  • Leaving damp carpet inside could lead to rust problems years down the road. Most car insurance covers flood damage. If the water reaches the dashboard, your insurance company probably will declare the car a total loss.

My furniture and carpet are soaked. What should I do?

  • Wet upholstered furniture resting on carpet should be elevated or moved to a covered patio or carport to dry.
  • If upholstery was soaked, rent a machine to extract the water.
  • Wet draperies and area rugs should be taken outdoors to dry.
  • Soaked wall-to-wall carpeting should be lifted up and the padding removed; it acts like a sponge. Get rid of the padding and rent a special vacuum to extract water from the carpet.

The President has declared a major disaster in our area. What does that mean?

Home and business-owners who suffered damage can apply for federal grants and loans through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. Federal assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low cost loans for uninsured property and other programs.

How can I prepare to make an insurance claim

If you evacuate, take insurance papers and your adjuster’s phone number with you. Write down the name, address and claims-reporting telephone number of the insurance company. Make emergency repairs, document the damage and repairs in writing, with receipts and with photos. Immediately report damage to your insurance company.

For more information on how to be prepared for any disaster, visit www.ready.gov/