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When a Hurricane Watch is issued, it means that hurricane conditions are possible in the specified area of the watch, usually within 36 hours.  In the event of a Hurricane Watch, your best course of action is to start preparing yourself for a hurricane.  Here are some basic steps to take to secure your home and make sure your family is ready for the possibility of a storm.

Secure Your Home

  • Prepare to bring any lawn furniture, outdoor decorations, trash cans, hanging plants, and anything else that can be picked up from the wind inside.
  • Tie down any large objects that cannot be brought inside, such as propane tanks and swingsets.  They can become deadly missiles in high winds.
  • Close any outdoor electrical outlets and cover with duct tape.
  • Prune dead or dying branches from trees and large bushes.
  • Prepared to cover all windows of your home.  If you do not have shutters installed, purchase precut ½-inch outdoor plywood boards, and install anchors for the plywood and pre-drill holes, as this will make it easier to hang.  When boarding up your home, remember that tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • If possible lower television and radio antennas, and take down any satellite dishes.
  • Insert wedges in all doors and sliding patio doors.  Doors that open inward will have to be wedged and bolted so that strong winds don’t blow the doors open and expose the home to damaging winds.  Placing a large piece of furniture next to the door will also help.  If unprotected patio doors are not secured, they can be lifted from their tracks, allowing wind to blow in.
  • Protect appliances and furniture by elevating them off the floor and covering them with plastic.
  • Move valuables to upper floors to avoid damage from storm surge or flooding.
  • Remove at least 75% of any screen-enclosed panels to avoid tearing and excessive damage to the enclosure.  Panels can easily be refitted once the storm has passed.
  • Set the refrigerator thermostat to maximum cold and do not open unless necessary.
  • If you live in a mobile home, recheck the tie downs to ensure they are secure.
  • If you have a swimming pool, ensure that it is not drained.  Keep it filled to about 12 inches below the edge, add additional chlorine, turn off electricity, and cover the filter pump.
  • Moor your boat, if you have one.  If possible, take it out of water and store it well inland, otherwise, check with the marina if you are docked there.  If you are leaving the boat on a trailer, remove all air from the trailer tires, tie the boat to the trailer, and anchor the trailer if you can.  Remove all electronics and personal items from the boat once it is secured.

Prepare Your Family

    • Make sure your car has a full tank of gas.
    • Get cash from the bank, as electronic tellers might not be operational for a few days after the storm.
    • Check your disaster supply kit to make sure you have enough batteries and that your food and medications are not expired.
    • Make sure all rechargeable items are fully charged, and that extra rechargeable batteries are fully charged as well.  This includes cell phones and power tools.
    • Make or purchase as much ice as you can store in your available freezer space, and make sure you have enough water on hand for everyone to drink 1 gallon a day for 3 to 5 days.
    • Refill prescriptions and make sure your over-the-counter medications in your disaster supply kit are not expired.  Replenish any first aid supplies.
    • Check the expiration dates on any non-perishable food in your disaster supply kit and pantry.  Purchase additional non-perishables, including pet foods and dietary supplements if needed.
    • Review your evacuation plan and confirm that all household adults have a copy of the evacuation route, maps, and your out-of-area contact’s information, in event that you need to evacuate and become separated.
    • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio, or your local radio or TV stations, for up-to-date storm information.
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