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Hurricane Watch - Coastal Safety

What is a hurricane watch?

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.

When a hurricane watch is issued, consider the need to evacuate. Always build in extra time. New England hurricanes often accelerate up the coast drastically, reducing your time to take action.

If you decide to evacuate, your National Weather Service urges you to consider the following items:

Before You Leave Your Home

  • Make sure that all family members not at home know where you will be staying. It is best to establish a contact outside the area being impacted by the hurricane. This person can then relay your location and condition to your family should communications be lost.
  • Move valuable items to higher points within your home, or have a close friend or relative inland store them for you.
  • Turn off all gas, water and electrical services at the main switch or valve in your home or business if possible. This will prevent additional damage to your property due to surges or leaks.
  • Unplug all electrical items. This can be skipped by simply turning off electrical service at the main breaker panel.
  • Lock all windows and doors and wedge sliding glass doors to prevent them from lifting out of their tracks.
  • If you have not done so already, move all outdoor items including: furniture, plants, and trash cans, indoors.
  • Pack enough clothes for all family members heading to the storm shelter.
  • Bring along the important papers including: insurance policies, inventory lists, and medical information.
  • All outside preparations should be completed before this onset of tropical storm/gale force winds (39 mph/34 kt).

Travel Tips

  • Do not drive farther than necessary.
  • Take familiar routes: Especially if you must travel at night.
  • Make sure you have a full tank of fuel before leaving.
  • Try to complete your travel before the onset of tropical storm/gale force winds and heavy rain. New England Hurricanes are often preceded by a false period of calm before conditions deteriorate rapidly. Do not be fooled.

Items To Consider Taking To A Shelter

  • Take along blankets, sleeping bags, pillows and towels.
  • Take along any necessary medications as well as personal hygiene items including: soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Remember that alcoholic beverages, and weapons are not allowed at evacuation shelters.
  • Remember not all shelters accept pets. If the shelter you will be using does, be sure to bring supplies for your pet including: a crate or carrier, food, toys to keep them occupied and medical records. Your towns requirements may vary, so be sure to find out exactly what you will need well ahead of time.

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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