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Prep Your Home For A Hurricane, Inside & Out: Easy Guide

Printable guide for how to prep your home for a hurricane (inside & out) covers everything you’ll need to do before, during, & after a storm.

How to Get Your Home Ready For A Hurricane

This post is full of handy tips and reminders to help you get your home ready for a hurricane, inside and outside, or even the next big storm.

And, I’ve got answers to common questions and answers people have about what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.

If you want a shopping list of everything to stock up on before a big hurricane or winter storm hits, check out Supplies & Food To Stock Up On Before A Hurricane.

This post can help you get ready anytime you think you’ll be losing power for long periods, stuck in your home for a few days, or even just unable to get to grocery stores and gas stations after an emergency weather event.

Image of Hurricane flooding outside a home and emergency water storage with a text box that says "How to prep your home for a hurricane".
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I wanted to share these hurricane prep tips with as many people as possible after going through the craziness and unpredictability of Hurricane Harvey.

You can read a little about our Harvey story and see the pictures on my Cleaning Up Flood Damage post.

Please note, some of these tips may be specific to the United States. Be sure to follow the safety tips in your country.

When Is Hurricane Season in the US?

Hurricane Season for the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico begins June 1st and ends November 30th.

The Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season runs from May 15th to November 30th. But most Hurricanes occur between August and October on both sides of the United States.

Do You Lose Water During A Hurricane?

Water supplies can be cut off or contaminated during a hurricane. You should always stock up on water before a hurricane just in case.

We have well water here. Whenever we lose power for long periods, we lose water too, since the pump that pulls the water out of the ground runs on electricity.

Be sure to have 1 gallon of clean drinking water per person, per day before a storm. We lost power for most of 5 days. But some homes lost power for even longer.

If you have to stay in your home during this time, try to have a 7 to 14 day supply of water available for each person in a house.

That daily water supply DOESN’T include water to flush toilets or bathe.

The 1 gallon of water per person, per day rule only covers drinking water, hand washing, food washing, and light requirements for cooking food.

Check out How to Store Water for an Emergency for more info about making an emergency water supply. For more info on the best food supplies for a hurricane, check out Supplies & Food To Stock Up On Before A Hurricane.

Flooding around the road we live on..
The back half of our neighborhood was trapped for a few days due to flooding on this section of road. It doesn’t look deep. But is probably close to 2′ at one point. Never drive in flood waters.

Water Storage for Emergencies Video

Watch this video for a step by step guide to getting your emergency water supply ready.

How to Store Water for an Emergency! With tons of answers to common questions. 👍

Should You Fill Your Bathtub Before A Hurricane?

Yes, you should fill every bathtub in your house before a hurricane, severe storm, or severe winter storm hits.

That bathtub water can be used to flush your toilet if the water supply is cut off. A standard bathtub can hold 42 gallons of water, if full.

Newer toilets usually require 1 1/2 to 4 gallons of water to flush them. That means 1 bathtub full of water might only give you 10 flushes on toilets that need 4 gallons.

So, plan ahead. And only flush the toilet during a water cut WHEN NECESSARY.

How to Flush a Toilet Without Running Water?

If you don’t have running water, you can flush the toilet by pouring water directly into the toilet tank. You’ll need enough to fill the tank as high as it normally is when the water is running.

If you need to have water to flush toilets, the tank will need between 1 1/2 and 4 gallons per flush. Some older toilets might even require up to 7 gallons per flush. So try to only flush when necessary, if you know what I mean.

Why Do You Need Bleach In A Hurricane?

According to the FDA, if you can’t boil contaminated tap water, you can use bleach to disinfect it. Bleach will only kill SOME of the organisms in the water.

But, if you have no other source of water, that’s better than nothing.

To clean contaminated tap water, first filter cloudy water through clean cloths. Once the water looks clean, you can use 1/8th teaspoon of unscented household liquid bleach (5.25% concentration) per 1 gallon of water.

Stir the bleach into the water, then let that sit for 30 minutes before drinking or using the water.

Empty meat section in our local grocery store.
The grocery stores lost power for so long that they had to throw out all of the refrigerated and frozen food.

How Can You Keep Your House Safe During A Hurricane?

How To Prepare Your House For A Hurricane Outside

You’ll generally know 3 to 5 days before hand if a hurricane will make landfall near you. Here’s a checklist of things you can do to get the outside of your home ready for a hurricane.

  • Clean the gutters. Blocked gutters can cause large amounts of rain from a hurricane to backup under your shingles or into other small openings around the gutters. That water can enter your home, causing damage.
  • Clear any grass and materials away from pop-up drains.
  • Clear mulch and dirt away from the foundation. Building codes vary in each area. But I would have at least 4 – 6 inches clear below the weep holes in brick or 4 – 6 inches below any other type of siding.
  • Make sure that the ground slopes away from the home. After years of plant debris build up and adding mulch, a slope causing drainage towards your house can build up in flower beds or yards. Grab a rake or shovel and slope that soil away from the home, or at least flatten it.
  • Caulk any questionable spots around outside window and door trim or soffits.
  • Use towels under the inside of doors if the wind is able to blow water under them.
  • Have a full tank of gas in each car. Cars need to be ready for evacuations. And, they’re great for charging devices or letting kids watch a little car TV in air conditioning during long power outages.
  • If you are close enough to the coast, boarding up windows and doors is also necessary. Hurricane shutters or 5/8″ plywood should be used.
  • Again, if you’re close enough to the coast to get high winds, board up or reinforce the garage door too. You don’t want it blowing open.
  • Take all of your yard furniture, pots, and toys inside the garage or to another secure place. Large items that can’t be carried, like trampolines, should be tied or weighted down.
  • Turn off propane tanks, if evacuating, or if the area over the tank is close to flooding.
  • Charge all batteries for hand held tools, like your saws and drill. Take that saw into the attic, if you absolutely have to go in there. People often get trapped in attics by rising flood water. You don’t want that to happen!
  • HELP your neighbors get their yards ready too. It’s in the best interest of everyone in the neighborhood to have their yards ready.
Image of water damage under a window.
High winds during a hurricane can blow rain or standing water sideways. Any water pooling outside your house might be blown in through weep holes or holes in caulking around windows and doors. For the only time ever, water was able to get into our house under this window.

How To Prep Your Home For A Hurricane Inside

  • Fill the bathtubs with water. This will give you water for flushing the toilet and some washing.
  • Fill empty bottles or clean containers with fresh drinking water.
  • Keep 1 days worth of water, food, an emergency radio, light, and blankets in your safest spot during a Tornado. Tornados often happen when a hurricane is moving through an area.
  • Your cell phone(s) will be very important. You’ll typically be able to make calls and check the internet for info, as needed. Cell service usually keeps working, even if power goes out. So, get back up phone chargers to last a few days. Try to save those batteries and stretch them out. This USB charger works for phones and other USB devices.
  • Emergency Radios are awesome. Having music or news when you’ve lost power is incredibly helpful at providing info and a bit of entertainment. Most emergency radios include lights and sometimes cell chargers too. Be sure to stock up on batteries.
  • LED lanterns with Lumens of 500 or higher are great for lighting up dark rooms. Some of these LED lanterns can be phone chargers too.
  • Turn the fridge and freezer to it’s coldest setting, in case you lose power. This will help the food stay cold longer.
  • Freeze water in plastic containers. You can use these ice blocks to help keep the fridge and freezer cold for some extra time, if power goes out. That water can be used for cooking and drinking once it melts.
  • Pack important documents and papers in a watertight container.
  • Photograph all household belongings. Get a picture of all appliances, electronics, artwork, furniture, etc. You’ll want proof for any necessary insurance claims and it will help you make an inventory, if necessary.
  • Wash all of your clothing. It may be a week or more without laundry, in the worst case scenario. You’ll want clean laundry ready for long power outage or evacuation.
  • Pack an evacuation bag with clothing, food, and drink for everyone. Keep medicine and important documents ready to go too. Have a printed evacuation route map ready, just in case the internet is down.

Checking your House for Damage After a Hurricane

If you have Flood Damage, read these guidelines for dealing with insurance companies, safely cleaning the damage, and how to salvage your belongings (including photos, furniture, and clothes).

For additional info and resources, check this Red Cross Hurricane Guide.

Related Posts

Where Is The Best Place To Stay Inside Your Home During A Hurricane?

The safest place to be in a home or building during a hurricane is in a windowless room. Preferably one in the center of the home or building.

So, sometimes that’s a room under the stairs, an interior hallway, a bathroom without windows, or large closet. The ground floor of the home is generally safer than upper floors during a Hurricane.

Do not shelter in your attic! No one will know you are there. And rescue workers will have a very hard time getting you out.

If flood waters are rising around your house, rescue workers recommend going on your roof so that the rescuers can see you.

If you do have to go to the attic, take an ax or battery operated saw so that you can cut an escape route out.

Image of trees down and flooding after a tornado.
A small tornado moved through our neighborhood during Harvey too. We lost a line of trees. The neighbors all worked together to clear them. 🙂

More Tips To Prepare Your Home For A Hurricane

  • Keep phones plugged in as much as possible during a power outage. Our power went on and off quiet a bit. Making sure the phone is always plugged in helps you get any charging possible while the power is on.
  • Washing dishes uses precious water. I recommend using one pan or kettle for just heating water. Then cook, when necessary, in another pan. And, if water is an issue, wipe pans and pots clean with paper towels before washing with as little water as possible.
  • My super cheap Grandpa saved water by keeping a sink full of soapy water all day. If you need to wash your hands, just dip your hands in, scrub them together, then dry off. This works great when you have to conserve water too. Get off grease and dirt with towels or wipes first, to make that water last longer.
  • Keep yourself and the kids busy. Turn on the radio to fill the room with normal sounds. Read books, do puzzles, color, craft, sew, knit, clean, organize. Plan to be bored and figure out what your family would like to do in that time. Some friends with power did a lot of baking to stay busy with the kids during the 3 days of rain. I actually finished building and painting a table on our worst day with Hurricane Harvey. And, I had so much time, I also organized our messy office and kids toys. You can actually get a lot done without power.
  • Look up at the ceiling in your house a few times a day. Walk the house and check the ceiling of each room and closets for water damage. Check the windows and doors too. Hard winds can blow water under doors. Water was even blown into our closed garage. You want to catch that as soon as possible.
  • Look down too. Check baseboards for changes. Almost a week after Harvey ended, I noticed a baseboard under a window had a new 3′ long crack in the caulk. The next day the laminate hardwood floor looked wet and bubbly. That’s how long it took for the water damage to show up. The rain water entered through a weep hole that didn’t have enough clearance. So, keep an eye out for changes.
  • Never leave candles burning. Stay safe when you use them. Keep them away from kids, pets, and flammable items. Never fall asleep with candles still lit. Only use lanterns or flashlights while sleeping.
Boys outside wearing rain gear.
After being stuck inside for a few days, our kids got to play outside for most of this day. At this point, we were in the calm eye-of-the-storm, waiting for the tail-end to move over us.

Tips For Staying Safe Near Flooded Roads and Buildings

  • Never drive through water on flooded streets. It can be a lot deeper than it looks and flowing water can sweep cars away.
  • Never drive on washed out roads or bridges.
  • Silt and mud from flooding can be hiding broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects. Try not to drive on it.
  • Only walk on silt and mud in safety boots. My husband was wearing thick rubber boots in a home clean up after flooding during Hurricane Harvey and still got a nail through his foot.
  • Following that, beware of skin infections and flesh-eating bacteria after entering deep rain water and flooding. The infection can easily enter through cuts and even small bug bites. Read these symptoms for flesh-eating bacteria from WebMD. If you have swelling it can be life threatening and can quickly turn into sepsis. Please, be careful and pay attention to wounds.
  • Stay out of buildings with water in them. Electric shock and gas leaks are a risk.
  • Also, stay away from down and loose power lines.
  • Inspect homes for structural damage before entering.
  • See my guidelines for Cleaning Up Flood Damage for more tips and details on safety.

Tips For Safe Evacuation From a Hurricane

If you decide to evacuate your home before a hurricane, unplug all appliance and electronics. And, turn off gas, water, and electric, if possible. This will help prevent possible flooding and fire damage if the home is damaged during the storm.

Take all of your important documents and paper with you. If you prepared before the storm, you should have had these in a waterproof container in an emergency evacuation bag.

Also, take enough food, drink, and gas to last 3 days for each person in the car. Grab all of your medications, even OTC medications too.

People can get stuck in their cars for long periods during last-minute evacuations.

Image of flooding in a driveway with a truck and basketball hoop.
Hurricane Harvey unexpectedly stalled over Houston for a few days, causing unprecedented flooding in our area. This is our driveway and yard covered in water.

How Far Should You Evacuate From A Hurricane?

If you decide to evacuate before a hurricane, you’ll generally hear that you need to evacuate 50 to 200 miles away from the coastline when a hurricane is approaching.

The exact distance will vary for different cities for a variety of reasons.

It’s important to listen to the local news before a hurricane for the latest recommendations from the Emergency Managers and other government agencies in your city.

You can check the Ready.gov recommendations for emergency evacuations for more info.

If you have been ordered to evacuate, please do so as soon as possible to avoid traffic. Safety is the priority.

Make a Hurricane Evacuation Plan For Your Family

Plan and go over your evacuation route with your family. Most cities near a coast will have marked hurricane evacuation routes. But, really, you’ll generally have a 3 to 5 days warning before a hurricane hits.

So as long as you leave a few days before the Hurricane hits your area, the normal roads inland should be open.

BUT, if the rain has already started to hit the area, the marked evacuation route is probably the safest way to avoid flooded roads. Never drive through flooded roads.

Where Can You Evacuate To During a Hurricane

If you decide you need to leave your home, there are really 3 main options for places to stay during a hurricane; emergency shelters, nearby family or friends, and hotels outside of the hurricane zone.

The Red Cross, your local Emergency Manager, and local news stations should all have a list of emergency hurricane shelters available in your area.

If you can’t stay with nearby family and friends during an evacuation, you really need to go far enough away to have enough hotel rooms to accommodate large amounts of evacuees.

If we ever decided to evacuate during a hurricane in Houston, we’d probably go to San Antonio or Austin. Both of those cities have a large amount of hotel rooms to handle evacuees.

And, they should be far enough away to avoid any problems like power outages or strong winds. One last tip, if you’ll be evacuating with pets, make sure to find a pet-friendly shelter or hotel.


Grab the 16 page free printable version of these tips to prep your home for a hurricane. This printable also includes my list of food and supplies to stock up on before a hurricane.


That’s all of the tips I have to prepare your house for a hurricane. Here’s some more popular DIY posts you might like.

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Feeling inspired? That’s it for how to Prep Your Home For a Hurricane, Inside and Outside. Let me know if you have questions.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.

Leanna | Faeries and Fauna

Tuesday 19th of September 2017

It is very thoughtful of you to share this. It will help many people in the region to prepare for the next storms. Hope everything starts to feel normal for everyone affected sooner than later.

JESS44903

Wednesday 13th of September 2017

Such a great post!

I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

Stephanie

Wednesday 13th of September 2017

Thanks, Jess! Sure will.

Christina Makri

Wednesday 13th of September 2017

Very useful information! Here where I live we do not have such phenomenons but still helps ... you never know! Thank you for sharing at Sweet Inspiration Link Party

www.artdecorationcrafting.gr

mydesignrules

Friday 8th of September 2017

These are awesome tips. I live in Tampa, so we are prepping for Irma now.

Stephanie

Friday 8th of September 2017

Thanks. :) Good luck, Kenyatta! I know it can be pretty bad waiting to see what will happen.

Ivory

Thursday 7th of September 2017

Wow, this is so sweet of you to take the time, type all of this helpful information, and post it for all. Althought I do not live in the state of Textas, nor Florida, this information is helpful for all, no matter where we live. One never know when a disaster will occur in our hometown/state. This information is good to have/know. Thank you so much. May God be with you all.

Stephanie

Friday 8th of September 2017

It is really helpful to keep most of this stuff stocked up and ready.

Comments are closed.