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Public Health Matters Blog

First there were Zombies; then came Hurricanes!

Posted by: Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator and Ali S. Khan, Assistant Surgeon General and Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, CDC

Hurricane evacuation route panel with stormy sky back drop

With June 1st only days away, FEMA, CDC and the rest of the team are busy preparing for the upcoming hurricane season. And now that you've taken the necessary precautions to prepare for a zombie apocalypse, you can start preparing for hurricane season, too. In recognition of Hurricane Preparedness Week, we want to remind you of some simple steps you can take. The same steps that we described in our zombie post (get a kit, make a plan, be informed) are key to getting prepared for a hurricane as well.

Get a Kit and Stock Up

Emergency Kit After a hurricane strikes, you may not have the convenience of your local supermarket or other supply stores that you visit on a regular basis. Therefore, it's critical that you have the supplies you need to survive for at least 72 hours, like non-perishable food, water, prescription medications, batteries, baby supplies, phone chargers and inverters, and a first-aid kit. While you are gathering supplies, make sure that you also place an emergency kit in your car. Learn more about supplies you'll need or

Make a Plan With Your Family

Floodwaters after a hurricane It's important to identify ahead of time where you and your family will go if you have to evacuate. If local officials order a mandatory evacuation in your area, you should follow this request and make plans for you and your family to leave. Sit down with your family now and decide whether you will evacuate to an out-of-town friend or relatives' house, or if you will stay at a hotel in a safe place.

And when making your evacuation plan, don't forget about your precious pets! You should make alternate housing arrangements for your pets in advance, since pet-friendly shelters may not be available during the emergency period. Identifying pet boarding facilities that are located along your evacuation route and outside of the danger zone are important steps to ensuring your pets will have a safe place to go. When evacuation orders are issued, you should call the boarder to ensure that they have availability. Here's a useful checklist for your pets on, FEMA's website for emergency preparedness.

Now that you have a plan for your family (including four-legged members), consider the following precautions before you evacuate:

  • Fill your car's gas tank. If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.
  • Prepare an emergency kit for your car with food, water, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
  • Secure any items outside which may damage property in a storm, such as bicycles, grills, propane tanks, etc.
  • Cover windows and doors with plywood or boards or place large strips of masking tape or adhesive tape on the windows to reduce the risk of breakage and flying glass.
  • Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature.
  • Be sure to take your phone charger with you.

Tune In And Stay Informed

Satellite photo of hurricane While the path of a hurricane is forecasted before it hits land, the situation can often change from one minute to the next. It's important to be informed with a NOAA weather radio and educate yourself on hurricane-related terms that will be used throughout the season, such as:

  • Tropical storm watch – tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.
  • Tropical storm warning – tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.
  • Hurricane watchhurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified coastal area. This is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.
  • Hurricane warninghurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. This is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

The National Hurricane Center provides a glossary on its Web site, so take some time and familiarize yourself with their Glossary of National Hurricane Center Terms.

While Hurricane Preparedness is a top priority and responsibility for FEMA and CDC, as well as other emergency management and public health agencies, it's also each individual's responsibility to ensure that they take the necessary steps to be prepared. You can learn more about Hurricane Preparedness at and

Start a Conversation

Do you live in a hurricane prone area? Have you started preparing? Tell us what you are doing by submitting a blog comment, post to our Facebook page or Tweet to @CDCemergency using hashtag #hurricane.

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  • Page last reviewed: October 15, 2018
  • Page last updated: October 15, 2018
  • Content source: Error processing SSI file
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