The Ultimate Hurricane Preparedness Guide for Navigating Increasingly Strong Storms

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) forecasters have predicted record-high hurricanes for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season. Up to 25 forecasted storms, up to 13 hurricanes, and 7 are expected to be category 3 hurricanes or higher, some of which are already underway. Record-breaking storms can damage homes and infrastructure, disrupt the power grid, and interfere with the internet and GPS. But we can still prepare for hurricane and strong storm seasons, which can help manage structural damage as well as help keep your family protected even in blackouts.

*Colorado State University 2024 Hurricane Forecast

Why is it crucial to properly prepare for hurricane and strong storm season?

In 2022, 1,718 weather-related injuries and 813 weather-related deaths were reported. Hurricanes rank among the top weather-related causes of fatalities and injuries in the United States, primarily due to drowning, high winds, and flying debris. 

As wind, hurricane, and significant storm events grow in intensity and frequency, ensuring your safety with preparations could minimize certain damages and expedite recovery after these events. Developing a proper storm preparedness plan can reduce the risk of injuries from flying debris, flooding, and structural damage, prevent waterborne diseases and other health issues before and after the storm, provide some safety for loved ones, provide peace of mind, and reduce some stress and anxiety during potentially dangerous situations. Anywhere we can prevent significant financial losses, extend the life of our property, and reduce long-term repair costs is reason enough to have a storm preparedness plan.

We’re providing this guide to help you ensure that you’re using the best strategies in preparation for hurricane and storm season. The goal is to have a disaster preparedness plan in place that could help save lives and minimize the economic impact of hurricanes and storms. First, let's address some basic information on hurricanes and storm events, which will help us be more proactive in thinking of preparation measures.

Understanding hurricanes, tropical storms, and high wind events

The core difference between weather events like hurricanes and tropical storms are their intensity and wind speed. Here are some things to know about each of these major weather events. 

Hurricanes are tropical storms that form in the Atlantic Ocean with wind speeds starting at 74 miles per hour.  A typical hurricane in the U.S. forms over warm ocean waters with moist air, evolving from a tropical storm into a hurricane. Before it starts, signs include increased wind speeds and darkening skies. When it hits, expect heavy rains, strong winds, and storm surges, usually lasting from a few hours to several days. After it ends, there are often lingering rains and flooding, followed by damage assessment and recovery efforts. Unfortunately, these storms can cause widespread devastation, affecting millions of lives and causing billions of dollars worth of damage, according to the National Hurricane Center. 

A typical tropical hurricane in the U.S. begins as a low-pressure system over warm ocean waters, intensifying into a rotating storm with thunderstorms. Watch for warnings like rapid cloud formation, rising winds, and weather alerts. The hurricane, characterized by strong winds, heavy rain, and potential flooding, can last anywhere from several hours to over a week. After it passes, clear skies return, but the aftermath includes significant property damage and flooding, necessitating caution and recovery efforts.

A tropical storm is a form of tropical cyclone with winds ranging between 39 miles per hour up to 73 miles per hour. These also form over warm ocean watersand is a powerful and potentially dangerous weather phenomenon with wind speeds lower than a hurricane. While it usually has less intensity than a hurricane, it can still cause significant damage with heavy rainfall, powerful winds, and flooding. 

Residents of coastal regions, particularly those along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, play a crucial role in preparing for and responding to these weather events. These storms often form along these coasts, posing a threat primarily to coastal regions. This includes states such as Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and the Carolinas. The intensity of these storms can lead to severe flooding, power outages, and property damage. It's crucial for residents of these areas to be aware of the potential for these storms to intensify into more severe hurricanes and to take necessary precautions.

Severe thunderstorms can bring about high wind events, which are strong, gusty winds that reach speeds of 35 mph or more. High wind events are mainly seen in the Great Plains, the Midwest, and the Southeast, where thunderstorms and tornadoes are commonly experienced.

These wind events can pose a significant risk to property, infrastructure, and personal safety as a result of high winds. High wind events in the United States often begin with weather warnings from the National Weather Service, as well as signs like increasing wind accelerations and swaying trees. During these events, sustained winds of 40 mph or more and gusts exceeding 58 mph can occur, causing damage to structures, power outages, and hazardous flying debris. These events typically last from a few hours to several days, depending on the weather system, and gradually diminish as the system passes.

What are the key indicators in our weather that tell us that climate change is happening? 

Climate change is marked by rising global temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as heat waves and storms. These changes lead to melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and shifts in ecosystems and species behaviors. If unaddressed, these impacts can cause severe disruptions to both natural and human systems. Human-caused climate change is not just a distant threat, but a reality that is heating the world's oceans, including the Atlantic Ocean. It is also a significant contributor to the melting of land ice, a process that is causing sea levels to rise. This, in turn, heightens the threat of storm surges during hurricanes, making the need for action more pressing than ever. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a trusted authority on climate change, has meticulously developed over 50 indicators of climate change. These indicators cover a wide range of topics, including health and society, ecosystems, snow and ice, oceans, weather and climate, and greenhouse gases, providing a comprehensive understanding of the issue. Some of these indicators include the average global temperature, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the climate, and the extent of sea ice in the Arctic. These indicators are regularly updated and can be accessed on the EPA's website, making them a valuable resource for understanding and tracking climate change.

Source: National Weather Service Portland

Assessing your location and the surrounding geography when preparing for hurricane and storm season

Geography and structure are two great risk factors for assessing your level of storm and hurricane threat. Historically, Florida has experienced the highest number of hurricanes, including significant storms like Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and Hurricane Irma in 2017​​​. Texas and Louisiana are also highly vulnerable, with Texas facing Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Louisiana enduring Hurricane Katrina in 2005​​. The Carolinas frequently encounter major hurricanes, such as Hurricane Florence in 2018 and Hurricane Hugo in 1989​​. The Northeast, particularly New York and New Jersey, also faces risks, highlighted by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. These regions are among the most at-risk areas for severe hurricanes in the U.S., underscoring the importance of tailored preparation to ensure safety and protection during hurricane season.

Source: FEMA

The FEMA map, a crucial tool in understanding hurricane risk, highlights the areas with the highest vulnerability. By overlaying this map with the locations in the U.S. that have experienced the most severe hurricanes, we can gain a comprehensive view of the areas most at risk, which include:

  • Galveston, Texas 
  • Puerto Rico 
  • Central Florida 
  • New Orleans, Louisiana 
  • Cheniere Caminada, Louisiana 
  • Sea Islands, near Savannah, Georgia 
  • Long Island, New York, and New England 
  • Southern Louisiana and southeast Texas 
  • Florida Keys 
  • North Carolina, New York, and parts of Canada 
  • Miami, Florida 
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast 
  • New Jersey and New York 
  • San José Island, Texas 
  • South Florida and Louisiana

Understanding the risk factors for safety, particularly the vulnerability of your home or business structure, is crucial for taking steps to prepare. By assessing your property's vulnerabilities and strengths against hurricanes, you can empower yourself to make informed decisions. Here are some examples of the best and worst structures to be in when a wind event hits.

The best structures to withstand hurricanes are:

  • Concrete Buildings
  • Steel Frame Buildings 
  • Hurricane-resistant windows and Doors 
  • Elevated Structures 
  • Geodesic Domes

The worst structures to withstand hurricanes are:

  • Mobile Homes 
  • Wood Frame Buildings 
  • Flat Roof Structures 
  • Non-reinforced Masonry Buildings 
  • Unsecured Sheds and Outbuildings


Developing a preparedness plan - what to do before a storm?

In 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused an estimated $125 billion in damage alone. According to NOAA, from 1980 to August 2023, the total approximate cost of damages from weather and climate disasters in the U.S. was $2.6 trillion. Preparing your home and securing any loose objects can minimize damage to your property.

Source: Statista

Preparing essential equipment and supplies for hurricane season

Keeping your family and property safe requires thoroughly evaluating equipment for survival during and after the storm. This includes ensuring you have reliable generators to keep necessary appliances running, such as refrigerators and medical devices, and any equipment and appliances that are critical to keep on if and when power outages occur. Water purification systems are essential to have on hand if local water supplies become contaminated.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advises having at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and one gallon of water per person per day. Medical supplies, including prescription medications and first aid kits, are also essential to manage any injuries or health issues that may arise. Establishing and practicing evacuation routes, setting up emergency contacts, and devising a reunification strategy in case family members are separated during the storm are important to include in your preparation planning. 

What important documents need safeguarding before a storm?

Before a hurricane or severe storm, it is crucial to safeguard important documents such as identification (passports, birth certificates), property deeds, insurance policies, medical records, and financial information. These should be stored in a waterproof and fireproof container or digitally backed up securely. Review your home insurance policy to ensure it covers hurricane-related damages, including wind and flood damage. Contact your insurance provider to confirm coverage details, update your policy if necessary, and understand the claims process to ensure timely support if something goes wrong.

Important documents can be kept in a waterproof container. Make copies of personal documents like insurance policies, identification, and bank account records, and have emergency contact information readily accessible. Digital copies of important documents can be scanned and emailed or stored on a secure cloud. 

Develop an evacuation plan 

Developing an evacuation plan before a hurricane or severe storm involves designating a safe meeting location and identifying multiple evacuation routes to ensure you can leave quickly and safely. Establish a communication plan by choosing a primary contact person outside the affected area and ensuring all family members have their contact information. Additionally, a reconnection plan should be created, detailing how and where family members will reunite if separated during the evacuation, using landmarks or pre-arranged meeting points. Regularly review and practice this plan to ensure everyone understands their roles and actions, making you feel prepared and ready for any emergency situation.

Creating a comprehensive evacuation plan before a hurricane or severe storm is crucial for ensuring the safety of all family members. You could start by designating safe meeting locations, including a primary spot such as a community shelter and a secondary spot at a family member's house in a nearby safe area. Identify multiple evacuation routes to these locations, ensuring you have options if one route is blocked or unsafe. This redundancy ensures you have alternatives to reach safety.

Preparing a shelter plan

Creating a shelter plan for a hurricane or severe storm involves identifying a safe location in your home, such as an interior room without windows on the lowest floor. Ensure this space is stocked with essential supplies, including water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, and a first aid kit. When preparing a shelter plan for a hurricane or severe storm, you must prepare to anticipate living without basic utilities such as power, water, gas, phone, and internet, as these services are often disrupted during significant weather events, unless you prepare ahead to secure your own backup power. 

In a hurricane or severe storm heading to a designated safe shelter that can withstand high winds; typically will be the safest place available. If a specialized shelter isn't accessible, the next best option is a small, windowless room on the lowest level of a sturdy building. Be ready to evacuate quickly in case of flooding, as water levels can rise rapidly during severe storms. 

Emergency preparedness skills

Before disaster strikes, it is best to develop emergency skills like first aid and CPR. These skills can be lifesaving in situations where medical help is unavailable immediately. The American Red Cross offers comprehensive courses on CPR and First Aid for training and certification. You can find more information and sign up for classes through their website at Red Cross CPR & First Aid Training. With these skills, you can empower yourself and your family, making you capable of confidently handling emergencies and helping those around you.

Resources for storm preparedness

Some key organizations provide detailed information, resources, and guidance when a storm has affected your area. Below are some of the most important organizations to bookmark in your storm preparedness planning.

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)


American Red Cross - Hurricane Preparedness

The National Weather Service

The Humane Society of the United States - Disaster Preparedness

Department of Energy - Hurricane Response

The National Weather Service

Setting alerts on your phone

It’s a great idea to subscribe to local alerts and notifications, which you can do on the websites of your local government and emergency management agencies. In the event of a storm or other emergency, these resources make it easier for you to stay informed and prepared to shelter in place.


What essential supplies and equipment should you keep for a hurricane or severe storm?

When preparing for a hurricane or severe wind event, a well-stocked emergency kit will include all necessary items to sustain you and your family until normal conditions are restored. Here are some emergency kit essentials.

If sheltering in place, prepare a kit with at least two weeks of supplies. This should include a one-month supply of essential medications in child-proof containers and any necessary medical equipment.

Water, food, and medication

Part of preparing your home for a storm is having a supply of food and water. Storing at least one gallon of water per person per day could cover both drinking and sanitation needs. Keep a sufficient supply of non-perishable food and ensure that any medications needed by family members are included in ample supply, ideally for at least a week. Stock up on non-perishable food items such as canned goods, dry cereals, granola bars, dried fruit, and peanut butter, along with a manual can opener. It's recommended to have at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days.

First aid supplies

A well-stocked first aid kit should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, gauze pads, scissors, tweezers, and a digital thermometer. Ensure you have a minimum one-week supply of prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter medications like pain relievers, antacids, and anti-diarrhea medication.

Personal hygiene

Personal hygiene must not be overlooked. Keep sanitation supplies such as hand sanitizer, body wipes, and garbage bags with plastic ties. Personal hygiene items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, and feminine hygiene products should also be stored and available when needed.

Tools and safety gear

Tools and supplies are vital for storm preparedness. A battery-powered or hand-crank radio will allow you to stay informed about weather updates and emergency broadcasts, along with flashlights and extra batteries. A multi-tool or Swiss Army knife, duct tape, plastic sheeting for window repairs, a wrench or pliers for turning off utilities, and a fire extinguisher are essential items to have on hand. 

Other miscellaneous items to include are a whistle to signal for help, a cell phone with chargers and a backup battery pack, cash in small bills in case power is down and you cannot pay with a credit or debit card, and local maps for navigation if electronic devices fail.

This portable kit should contain at least three days’ worth of supplies that are easy to carry if you need to evacuate quickly. Include items like backup batteries and chargers for essential devices such as cell phones, CPAP machines, or wheelchairs.

Clothing and bedding

For clothing and bedding, ensure you have sturdy shoes or boots, rain gear such as ponchos and waterproof boots, blankets or sleeping bags, and extra clothing including warm clothes, socks, and undergarments. These items can help you stay warm and dry during and after the storm.

Pet preparation

If you have pets, ensure they have food and water for at least three days, a pet carrier or crate, a collar with ID tag, harness and leash, pet medications, and waste disposal bags. Being prepared with these items can improve your ability to cope with the challenges of a severe storm, ensuring you and your loved ones remain safe and have what they need.

By diligently ensuring that these essential supplies and equipment are readily available in your emergency kits, you can significantly enhance your readiness and resilience against unexpected disasters. This level of preparedness brings a sense of peace of mind and security, knowing that you and your family are well-equipped to handle any emergency.

Protecting your property

Preparing your home and property for storms and hurricanes is crucial to minimize damage and ensure the safety of everyone residing within. To effectively secure the structure against wind and flooding, the yard must be managed, and safeguards should be set inside the home.

Protecting your home against wind

To protect your home against wind during a hurricane or severe storm, ensure these steps are taken once a hurricane or severe storm is announced for your area. 

  1. Ensure all windows and doors are secured with storm shutters or plywood.
  2. Reinforce garage doors, which are often the most vulnerable entry points, to prevent them from blowing in.
  3. Trim trees and secure loose outdoor items to reduce the risk of debris causing damage.

To protect your home's roof against wind during a hurricane or severe storm, ensure that it is securely fastened by checking for loose shingles and repairing any damage promptly. Install hurricane straps or clips to reinforce the roof-to-wall connections, and consider upgrading to impact-resistant roofing materials. Regularly clear gutters and downspouts to prevent water buildup, and trim nearby trees to minimize the risk of branches causing damage. Taking these proactive steps enhances your roof's durability and reduces the likelihood of severe wind damage to it.

Protecting your home against floods

To protect your home from severe flooding caused by hurricanes or severe storms, elevate critical utilities such as electrical panels, heating systems, and appliances to higher floors or above the potential flood level. Install check valves in plumbing to prevent floodwater from backing up into your home. Use water-resistant building materials in areas susceptible to flooding, and ensure your gutters and drains are clear of debris to facilitate proper water flow. Additionally, consider installing sump pumps with battery backup to remove excess water effectively.

Regularly clean out drains, gutters, and downspouts to ensure water flows away from your home, effectively reducing the risk of flooding and water damage. Keeping a stockpile of protective materials such as plastic sheeting and sandbags will help divert water away from your home. Consider installing a sump pump with a battery backup to remove water that enters your basement or crawl space. Raise your heating system, water heater, and electrical panel if they are in areas of your home that may be prone to flooding. This can control costly damage and potential hazards. Check if your insurance policies are up to date and cover flood damage. Discussing your coverage with your insurance agent and understanding any additional policies you might need is important.

Yard and landscape management

Regularly trim trees and shrubbery to minimize the risk of windblown branches causing damage. Secure or store outdoor furniture and tools that could be thrown by strong winds. If applicable, properly drain and cover pools to prevent debris from collecting or water from becoming a hazard.

Reduce the risk of serious structural damage by anchoring heavy outdoor items that cannot be moved indoors, such as gas grills and propane tanks. Trim or remove trees and branches that could potentially fall on your home during high winds. Depending needed install permanent storm shutters or board up windows with plywood sheets to protect them from flying debris and reinforce doors, especially garage doors, as they can be vulnerable to high winds.

Interior safeguards

Use surge protectors to safeguard electronics and appliances from power surges caused by lightning strikes or power line damages during a storm. Anchor heavy furniture and fixtures to walls to prevent tipping during strong wind gusts or movements caused by the storm.

Implementing these measures can help reduce the risk to your home and property during severe weather events, ensuring you, your family, and your belongings remain safe and secure.

Backup Power Solutions

Backup power solutions are paramount during hurricanes and storms, as there is a high probability of widespread power outages. A power outage can last for days or weeks, causing homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure to be left without electricity for days, weeks, or even months. There are several vital reasons why backup power is so important:

Backup power ensures that essential services such as medical facilities, communications systems, and emergency response operations remain available for as long as possible. In addition to enabling the medical equipment to function, it provides communication networks for coordinating the rescue effort and maintains the refrigeration system so that food and medicine can be preserved during an emergency.

In addition, backup power is essential to ensure the safety and comfort of your family during prolonged outages. The device provides lighting so you can navigate safely in darkened areas, heating so that you stay warm during cold weather, and cooling so you do not overheat during hot weather. This is of utmost importance, especially for vulnerable groups such as older adults, children, and individuals with medical conditions.

What is the importance of having backup power?

When power outages occur, backup power is essential to maintain continuity, especially during weather emergencies such as hurricanes and storms. Having backup power, like a whole home generator or backup battery system ensures the continuity of life during a crisis keeping. Backup power provides safety and comfort during prolonged outages by ensuring lighting, heating, and cooling. 

For businesses, backup power minimizes the impact of financial losses by preventing disruptions to operations. Being prepared with backup power solutions undoubtedly contributes to organizations' resilience, safety, and well-being in the face of unforeseen power disruptions.

How to ensure power stays on during hurricanes and storms

In order to keep the power on during hurricanes and storms, proactive measures must be taken, such as installing backup power generators, ensuring that electrical systems are properly maintained, and providing protection against high winds and flooding of critical infrastructure. 

Implementing renewable energy sources as well as smart grid technologies can increase resilience to extreme weather events. The preparation of emergency kits containing batteries, flashlights, and portable chargers can also assist in mitigating the effects of a power outage.

Preparing a reliable backup energy source is a critical part of storm and hurricane preparedness. It ensures that your home remains functional during power outages. There are several types of backup power systems, each suited to different needs and capacities.

Portable Generators are a popular choice for temporary power solutions. These units are not intended to power an entire home but can keep a few vital appliances running, such as refrigerators, small heaters, and lights. Portable generators' flexibility allows them to be moved and used where needed, making them an excellent option for immediate, short-term power during outages. You can explore various models and their capabilities here on the Briggs & Stratton website.

Home Standby Generators offer a more comprehensive solution for power outages. These systems are permanently installed outside the home and automatically engage to maintain power when the main power source fails. Standby generators are connected to an automatic transfer switch, which detects power loss and initiates the generator to ensure continuous electrical supply. Powered by propane or natural gas, they can operate major household systems and appliances such as air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators, and even sump pumps. Given the complexity of installation and the need for a constant fuel source, it's advisable to install a standby generator well ahead of the storm season, involving professional setup and maintenance. Learn more about the unmatched reliability of the Power Protect Standby Generator here.

Backup Battery Systems provide another robust solution for maintaining power. These systems store electrical energy and can power an entire home depending on the capacity and demand. Unlike generators that require fuel, battery storage systems need to be recharged, typically via the grid or renewable energy sources like solar panels. This makes them an environmentally friendly option that can be particularly beneficial in areas with frequent, short-duration outages. Learn more about the new wire-free RapidStak™ design with the SimpliPHI 6.6 Battery here.

Each backup power system has different advantages, so choosing the right one depends on your specific power needs, budget, and the frequency of outages in your area. Whether opting for a portable generator for essential tasks, installing a standby generator for whole-home power, or investing in a battery storage system for a sustainable solution, ensuring a reliable power source during emergencies can significantly reduce the stress and disruption caused by power failures.

Briggs & Stratton Energy Solutions delivers energy solutions from a name you can trust. Visit our full line of energy solutions and stay prepared for storm and hurricane season.