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Hurricane Warning - Inland Wind and River Safety

What is a hurricane warning?

A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions, including destructive sustained winds of 74 mph or greater and dangerously high tides, are expected to affect the specified area within 24 hours.

When a hurricane warning is issued, inland residents must be ready to act swiftly to protect their property and reduce personal risk.

Remember, most of New England's tropical storms and hurricanes accelerate as they approach, dramatically reducing your time to prepare. Never base your actions on the estimated time of landfall, for hazardous weather will often arrive as early as 6 hours prior to the time the eye of the storm makes landfall.

Respect the power of the hurricane! Act now to protect your life and property! Your National Weather Service urges you to follow these safety tips:

The Evacuation Question: To Stay or Leave

Inland residents may not need to evacuate if you are not in a flood-prone area. While not subject to the impact of the storm surge, heavy rainfall could lead to flooding of area waterways or urban areas. Those who might become isolated due to flooded roads should also seriously consider leaving.

If local officials recommend that you evacuate, do so immediately. Try to use the routes local officials recommend. These routes will often be patrolled more frequently, meaning help will reach you sooner if you get into trouble.

Evacuation does not necessarily mean fleeing hundreds of miles. The shortest distance you can travel to leave an area which will be flooded, or isolated due to flooding, to reach a building which can withstand the expected winds is ideal. Think: "Run from the water, and hide from the wind."

  • Know the quickest route to the nearest storm shelter.
  • If you live in a mobile or modular home, leave as soon as you can.
  • Realize that you will not be the only one heading inland and allow extra time for travel.
  • Be sure to have pictures or at the very least, serial numbers and a description of items in your house for insurance purposes. Take your copy of the policy with you.

Preparing Your Home

  • Boarding up windows is a necessity for homes exposed to high winds. Have nails and boards on hand for this purpose.
  • Do not tape up windows! This only causes flying glass to stay in large chunks, which may do more harm than good. Tape will not prevent your windows from breaking in the stronger winds of a hurricane!
  • Close drapes across windows to minimize flying glass.
  • Bring in or secure all loose outdoor objects to prevent them from becoming missiles.
  • Brace garage doors and avoid opening any door on the windward side of the home.
  • Obtain bottled water or fill a cleaned bathtub. Local water supplies often become contaminated after hurricanes. Wells should be tested for contamination before using them after a hurricane or tropical storm. You should have enough water to supply each person in your family with one gallon of water per day for sanitation and drinking for at least 3 days.
  • If time permits, you may want to move electronics equipment away from windows in case they are blown in and water enters the room.

Power Failure Tips

  • Have plenty of batteries on hand for flash lights, AM/FM radios, and your NOAA weather radio.
  • Do not use candles. Many people have been injured or killed during and after hurricanes from fires started by candles.
  • Have non-perishable food that does not need refrigeration or much cooking on hand. Keep a manual can opener for use with canned foods. It is almost a certainty that electrical and phone power will be disrupted after a hurricane. Again have enough food to get through at least 3 days.
  • If you have a portable generator: Be sure it is properly connected to the main power supply. If it is not, it may do damage to the main power supply of your home.
  • Unplug all non-essential electrical items. Today's electronics can be susceptible to damage during power failures and power surges once service is restored.
  • If power is lost, turn off any gas service immediately. Fires can be started by gas leaks when electrical service is restored.

The Freshwater Flood Threat

  • If you live near a river or stream that is susceptible to flooding, keep updated on its status and be ready to head for another storm shelter on higher ground should a flood or flash flood warning be issued.
  • If the flood threat is unusually high, leave now. Do not wait until the hurricane arrives. While flooding may not be occurring in your immediate vicinity, heavy rainfall may flood your evacuation route sooner. You do not want to have to evacuate to higher ground during the height of the hurricane.
  • Evaluate your insurance coverage. Unlike standard insurance, flood insurance covers structural property loss due to flooding. For additional information, go to www.floodsmart.gov
  • Avoid driving into water of unknown depth. Moving water could quickly sweep your vehicle off the road.
  • Restrict children from playing near moving water, drainage areas or other flooded areas. Moving water can quickly pull them under. In addition, the water may harbor contaminants such as oil and sewage.
  • Stay well away from downed power lines. They may be live and water is an excellent conductor of electricity. In addition, do not enter flood waters where appliances are even partially submerged. This poses an electrocution hazard.
  • Do not use fresh food which has come in contact with flood waters. Wash canned goods with soap and hot water before opening.
  • To prevent flood waters from backing up into drains in your home, install or ensure that you have check valves.

If you follow these actions, you will be prepared for the storm. Think before you act. Avoid taking any unnecessary risks and make a concerted effort to stay calm.

Following these actions will make this very stressful and difficult time go a bit more smoothly.


Learn more about Hurricane Preparedness from the National Hurricane Center.

April to May of each year is the best time to take action to protect your family and property.


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Page last modified: December 5, 2005

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