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Hurricanes are formed by a combination of the tropical ocean and the atmosphere. Heat from the ocean makes hurricanes stronger, and the path of a hurricane is controlled by winds or the hurricane’s own energy. For a storm to be called a hurricane, it must have sustained winds of at least 74 miles per hour. Hurricanes are ranked category one to category five according to the Saffir-Simpson scale of strength.

Hurricanes can cause storm surges of water along the coastline, high winds, tornadoes, torrential rains, and flooding. Moving or airborne debris can break windows and doors and allow high winds and rain inside a home or business. In some hurricanes, wind alone can cause a lot of damage such as downed trees and power lines, collapsing weak areas of homes, businesses or other buildings. Roads and bridges can be washed away and homes can be ruined by flood waters. Tornados can also occur when hurricanes make landfall. Storm surge is the biggest threat to life and property in coastal areas and into the mainland if the hurricane is large enough and strong enough.

Before A Hurricane

  • Secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8 marine or exterior-grade plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. (Tape does not prevent windows from breaking and creating a safety hazard.)
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters and downspouts. Fix any gutters that may be loose.
  • If you have special healthcare, access, or functional needs, enroll in the Rhode Island Special Needs Emergency Registry.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat.
  • Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit.
  • Make a family action plan.
  • Learn about your local evacuation routes and emergency shelters.
  • Review your insurance policies.
  • Consider purchasing and installing a generator in case there is an extended power outage. (Make sure the generator is installed by a certified professional and is installed above potential flood levels.)

36 Hours Before a Hurricane Hits

  • Check often for official updates on the radio, TV, RIEMA website, or NOAA Weather website, or radio. Activate family disaster plan.
  • Make sure cars have a full tank of gas.
  • Fully charge cell phones.
  • Check batteries in flashlights and in radios.
  • Put prescription medications in waterproof containers, and get refills on medications if possible.
  • Secure or move inside any outdoor furniture, toys, or decorations.
  • Wedge sliding glass doors to prevent lifting from their tracks.
  • Secure your boat.

24 Hours Before a Hurricane Hits

  • Stay tuned for official updates on the radio, TV, RIEMA website, or NOAA Weather website or radio.
  • Board or shutter windows.
  • Board up garage and porch doors.
  • Bring in outdoor pets or livestock.
  • Fill the bathtub, washing machine, and other large containers with water than can be used to flush the toilet. (If there is an extended power outage, well pumps do not work and municipal water systems could lose water pressure and not be able to provide water to its customers.)
  • Turn off propane tanks and utilities.
  • Unplug small appliances.
  • Close all inside doors.

12 Hours Before a Hurricane Hits

  • If you live in a coastal or riverine communities, move valuables to upper floors of the home.
  • Turn refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting and do not open the doors.
  • Turn off all computer equipment.
  • Be prepared to seek refuge in a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level of your home.
  • Be aware that the eye of the storm is not the end of the storm. Continue to monitor weather updates.

Regardless of the time frame, all hurricane preparedness activities should be finished or stopped before storm winds reach tropical storm strength (39 miles per hour).

After a Hurricane Hits

  • Contact your insurance carrier to start the claims process.
  • Throw out any food that is spoiled in your refrigerator or freezer. Learn how to determine if food is spoiled.
  • If you own a private well and the well is flooded, properly clean and inspect the well.
  • Clean and dry out your home safely if it was flooded.
  • Food establishments should follow food establishment power outage guidelines.
  • Check RIEMA's website for updates on federal assistance for storm damage.