Facing the Fury: When to prepare for a hurricane

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One of the hardest things during a hurricane is knowing when to take action and when to move into high gear to keep your family safe.

Meteorologist Cecilia Gutierrez has a timeline on when to take action.

Five days before a storm hits, start putting plans you've already made into motion.

“At 120 hours, it's not in the Gulf of Mexico yet, but we're already working it,” said Cameron County Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Hushen.

But that's not always the case, Hushen said. Storms can form at any time.

"It could develop anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico and then the timeframes have shifted,” Hushen said.

At four days out, start paying attention to your local weather reports and emergency management outlets especially if you live on the coast.

With three days left, the clock starts ticking.

"If you do not feel safe in the place where you're at, then you need to take responsibility and leave yourself,” Hushen said. "You should never wait for a public official to tell you, you need to leave."

Two days before a storm, start looking for a hurricane watch to be issued.

“Remember at 48 hours, it's still sunny and people think, 'No, we're not going to get anything. It's sunny, we don't know where this thing is going to go,'” Hushen said. “Then at 12 hours, they make a decision, ‘Okay it's time to go.’"

If you decide to ride out the storm, make sure your cell phone is charged, you have cash in hand, and your home is secure at least 24 hours before the storm hits.

"You need to make sure your windows are boarded, not putting masking tape on the windows but actually boarded,” Hushen said. “It's not really for the wind coming in, but a lot of debris flies.”

Down to the last 12 hours before landfall, stores could be empty, so make sure you shop for supplies long ahead of a storm.

You'll need at least a gallon of water per person per day. For a family of four, that's 20 gallons of water for five days.

If the power goes out when the storm hits, now is the time to stay home.

If you do decide to stay, keep in mind the storm could prevent first responders from getting to you.

"That's what people need to understand: They can't get to you when you have 80 miles per hour winds,” Hushen said. “So, you're going to have to wait until after the storm.” Overall, you need to start preparing now, don't wait.

Make sure to have a plan in place in case of evacuation for your family, including your pets. If you decide to stay through a hurricane, you need to be ready to ride out the storm and any aftermath that comes with it.


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