hurricane safety

Virginia Hurricane Preparedness Central

Hurricanes are strong storms that can be life-threatening as well as cause serious hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes. Learn what to do to keep your loved ones safe!

Before the Storm


Determine your risk.

Know if you live in an evacuation area or in a home that would be unsafe during a hurricane. Assess your risks and know your home's vulnerability with FEMA’s Map Portal.


Make a plan.

Avoid any undue anxiety by planning in advance for before, during, and after the storm.

Determine where you would go if you need to evacuate. There’s no need to travel hundreds of miles. Identify a friend or relative who doesn’t live in the hurricane’s path and communicate your emergency evacuation plans with them. Be sure to account for your pets, as most emergency shelters don’t allow them.

Download our free emergency Family Communication Plan to share valuable emergency information with your family. Tuck this inside your children's book bags and keep one in each family vehicle.

Free Emergency Family Communication Plan

Use our free printout to keep valuable emergency communication information with your family at all times.



Build an emergency kit.

First Aid Kit

Battery Powered Radio

3-5 Day Supply of Food & Water

Flashlights & Batteries

Prescription Medication

Cash & Credit Cards

Here are a few other items you may wish to have in your emergency kit:

  • 3–5 day supply of food (Don’t forget about pets)
  • Changes of Clothing and Shoes
  • Sanitation Supplies
  • Blankets or Sleeping Bags
  • Emergency Tools
  • Leash or Crate for Pet

And don’t forget members can save big on hurricane prep and clean up supplies with Grainger®. Learn more about member saving here.


Secure your home or business.

These are the things you can do to prepare your home or businesses before a storm comes.

  • Make sure you secure your property by boarding up windows with cut-to-fit plywood. If you’re a business owner, remove any hanging outdoor signs.
  • Bring inside or secure any objects that might become airborne and cause damage in strong winds.
  • Before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe from high winds.
  • Business owners should store merchandise and inventoried supplies as high as possible off the floor, especially goods that could be in short supply after the storm.
  • Homeowners should clear gutters out before storms to avoid unnecessary water damage.
  • If you own a garage, think about reinforcement.
  • Prepare your boat, and be aware of marine safety if you are on or near the water.
  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting, and only open them when necessary.
  • Prepare coolers in case the power goes out to avoid opening the freezer or refrigerator.
  • Fill a bathtub with clean water. This can be used for drinking and flushing toilets.
  •  Store important personal, family or business documents in a watertight container.
  • Make sure your household inventory is up-to-date, and schedule an insurance review
  • Make sure your car has a full tank of gas.

Why should I complete a home inventory?

Because when it comes to covering your things, it’s important to first know what stuff you’re covering. And that means taking an inventory. If you’re wondering how to fill out a home inventory, we’ve got you covered.

Home Inventory 101

During the Storm

Dog in crate


Monitor the news.

As the hurricane gets closer, monitor the news for local updates.


Stay inside.

Stay indoors and away from windows.


Tell someone your location.

Let your family and friends know where you are.


Keep your pets safe.

Keep pets indoors with leashes on or in crates.


Charge your phone.

Make sure your cell phone is charged.


Review your plan.

Review your evacuation plan with your family.


Avoid the floodwater.

Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated with sewage or contain dangerous insects or animals.


Use flashlights not candles.

If the power goes out, use flashlights in the dark. Do not use candles.

What's the difference between a watch and a warning?

Watch: Conditions may change to a hurricane within the next 48 hours. Warning: Hurricane is expected. ’ (Click to Tweet)

After the Storm

Once the storm has passed and everyone is safe, what do you do next?


Listen for instructions.

Listen to local news or radio to get any emergency instructions.


Make contact with others.

Check on your neighbors and family and let them know you’re OK.


Avoid walking or driving through flood water.

You never know how deep or fast-moving the water can be. Just 6 inches of fast-flowing water can knock you over, and 2 feet can float a car.

flood safety infographic


Avoid floodwater.

Don’t allow children to play in or near floodwater, and avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated.


Avoid using or drinking tap water.

Also avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it's not contaminated by floodwater.


When in doubt throw it out.

If your power went out, check refrigerated food for spoilage.


Check for hazards.

Watch out for debris and downed power lines.


Take photos for insurance claims.

Photograph any damage to your property to assist when filing an insurance claim.


Smell for gas.

When inspecting your property, be aware of possible natural gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, ventilate the area, and leave immediately. Be aware of sparks and broken or frayed wires.


Are you wet?

Before interacting with the electrical system, be sure that you are not wet or standing in water, and that the electrical system is not wet.


Take care when using electrical appliances.

When dealing with appliances ensure that they are not wet. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again.


Are your pipes damaged?

Be aware of damaged pipes to ensure that water and sewage system integrity is still high.


Disinfect contaminated items.

Lastly, be sure to disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria or chemicals.