Hurricanes and COVID-19
Planning for hurricane season and other potential disasters can be stressful, and with COVID-19 to consider as well, it may be especially so.
Public health and emergency response professionals have advice to help you safely prepare, evacuate, and shelter for severe storms while protecting yourself and others from COVID-19. Here are some tips to help you and your family stay safe during hurricane season this year.
- Pay attention to local guidance about updated plans for evacuations and shelters, including shelters for your pets.
- Stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines help protect you from getting sick or severely ill with COVID-19. Staying up to date on vaccines makes it less likely that you will be sick with COVID-19 while sheltering or evacuating from a hurricane, and less likely to need medical services while hospitals are under strain from the natural disaster.
- Pay attention to the COVID-19 Community Level in your area and follow recommendations to stay safe. Take steps to protect yours and others’ health while preparing for the hurricane.
- When you check on neighbors and friends, be sure to follow CDC recommendations to protect yourself and others.
6 Things to Remember Before You Evacuate
- Add hand sanitizer and masks to your go kit.
- Have several ways to receive weather alerts.
- Know a safe place to shelter.
- Follow guidance from local officials.
- Prepare a disaster kit for your pets.
- Stay safe while you travel.
If you may need to evacuate, prepare a “go kit” with personal items you cannot do without during an emergency. Include items that can help protect you and others from COVID-19, such as hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, bar or liquid soap, disinfectant wipes (if available) and multiple, clean masks for everyone age 2 or older.
- Have several ways to receive weather alerts, such as National Weather Service cell phone alerts, NOAA Weather Radio, or (@NWS) Twitter alerts.
- Find out if your local public shelter is open, in case you need to evacuate your home and go there.
- If you need to go to a disaster shelter, follow CDC recommendations for staying safe and healthy in a public disaster shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Follow guidance from your local public health or emergency management officials on when and where to shelter.
- Make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your pets. Find out if your disaster shelter will accept pets. Typically, when shelters accommodate pets, the pets are housed in a separate area from people.
- If you have to travel away from your community to evacuate, follow safety precautions for travelers to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
If you plan to stay with friends or family outside your household when you evacuate from a storm, talk to them about how to protect yourselves and those you are staying with from COVID-19:
6 Things to Remember Before Staying with Others
- Talk about a plan to stay safe.
- Take rapid COVID-19 tests.
- Ventilate the home.
- Follow preventive actions.
- Know what to do if someone gets sick with COVID-19.
- Keep your pets safe.
Does either household have someone at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, including older adults or people of any age who have certain medical conditions? Make sure everyone knows what they can do to keep them safe from COVID-19.
- Consider taking rapid COVID-19 tests if possible before sharing living spaces. This is especially important before gathering with individuals with certain medical conditions, older adults, those who are immunocompromised, or people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines, including children who cannot get vaccinated yet.
- Ventilate the home to the extent you can. If you have power, you can use fans and portable HEPA air cleaners, and run your HVAC fan continuously. After the storm passes, if it is safe to do so, you can open windows and doors.
- Follow everyday preventive actions, including covering coughs and sneezes, washing your hands often, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Know what to do if someone in your family or in the household you are staying with becomes sick with COVID-19.
- Take steps to keep your pets safe.
In addition to following guidance for staying safe and healthy after a hurricane, note that:
- The COVID-19 Community Level may change after a hurricane as people move around. Pay attention to your local health department so that you can take the right actions to stay safe and healthy.
- Take steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if you use a generator.
- If you are injured or ill, contact your medical provider for treatment recommendations. Keep wounds clean to prevent infection. Remember, accessing medical care may be more difficult than usual during medium or high COVID-19 Community Levels.
- Dealing with disasters can cause stress and strong emotions, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is natural to feel anxiety, grief, and worry. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover.