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General Hurricane Watch Safety

A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions are possible in the designated watch area within 36 hours. It is essential that you keep informed about the progress of the hurricane and take the necessary preparedness actions to minimize property losses and 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.

You should have a hurricane tracking chart handy. Many local radio or television stations broadcast this information. Your local NOAA All- Hazards weather radio station will always broadcast the latest positions as a hurricane approaches, along with a variety of storm-related information. It is your best source of weather information, at your fingertips, 24 hours a day.

When a hurricane threatens, your National Weather Service urges you to follow these preparedness rules:

Evacuation Possibility

Anyone living in an area subject to flooding, either coastal from the storm surge or inland from heavy rainfall, should consider evacuation. If your home may not withstand the expected winds, particularly mobile or modular homes, you should consider evacuation as well.

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."

  • Make arrangements now for the relocation of pets should you have to evacuate. Many shelters do not allow pets.
  • Have your car fully fueled and ready to go should you be asked to leave your home.
  • Be certain of the route you will take to the location or shelter you will use to escape the hurricane winds.
  • Anyone living in a mobile home should plan to relocate to a more sturdy shelter.
  • Take as few vehicles as possible. The fewer cars on the road, the better traffic will flow and the quicker everyone can reach their intended destination safely. Try to avoid towing large trailers.

Emergency Supplies

  • Make sure you get refills on needed prescriptions and other personal supplies.
  • Have plenty of batteries for radios and flashlights.
  • Have a full tank of fuel in your car.
  • .
  • Have at least 3 days of packaged foods and canned goods that require little or no cooking or refrigeration. Have a manual can opener as well.
  • Put aside bottles of fresh water. You should have enough to provide one gallon of water to each person in your family for drinking and sanitation each day. Have at least a 3 day supply on hand.
  • Have boards and nails on hand to protect exposed windows.

Boat Owners

  • Remove your boat from the water. You will not have time if you wait for the warning to be issued. Remember that you will not be the only person at your location trying to get a boat out of the water.
  • For those that cannot remove the boat from the water, tie up your boat at this time. Be sure to have plenty of extra lines, chaffing gear and fenders. Fully charge the battery.
  • Insure your vessel is as watertight as possible.
  • Remove all non-essential equipment.

Miscellaneous Items

  • Move all outdoor furniture and toys indoors.
  • Remove the pool cover and store it inside. If you have an above- ground pool, fill it completely. Remove any non-permanent equipment.
  • After you are through, check on your neighbors and see if they need assistance.

If you follow these steps when a hurricane watch is issued, you will be better prepared and ready to act quickly and calmly should the watch be upgraded to a warning.


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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