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Hurricane Preparedness Guide 2022

Written by Lisa Iscrupe

Edited by Hannah Hillson

Last updated 07/20/2022

JodiJacobson/E+/Getty images

Hurricane season in the U.S. season runs from June to November and reaches its peak between August and October. Now is the perfect time to prepare for the weather to come throughout the summer and fall. 

In hurricane lingo, a watch means that weather conditions could create a storm, while a warning means that a storm is expected in a given area. To stay safe, start preparing at the beginning of the season before the first storm is spotted. 

Discover the hurricane forecast for 2022 and a pre-storm checklist that will get you through the season safely.

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2022 hurricane season predictions

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is once again predicting an “above-average hurricane activity this year” including

  • 14 to 20 named storms
  • 6 to 10 hurricanes (74 mph winds or higher)
  • 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5)

This estimate is slightly higher than the 2021 hurricane outlook, which predicted 13 to 20 named storms, 6 to 10 hurricanes, and 3 to 5 major hurricanes. However, the 2021 season ended up producing “21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater), including seven hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or greater) of which four were major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater).” 

Understanding hurricane terminology

The first step to being prepared is understanding hurricane weather reports. Here’s the difference between a hurricane watch, warning, named storm, and major hurricane.

  • Hurricane watch. The area may see hurricane conditions in the next 48 hours.
  • Hurricane warning. The area will see sustained winds of 74 mph or higher in the next 36 hours.
  • Named storm. A storm that causes winds of 39 mph or higher. Storms are reclassified as hurricanes when winds reach 74 mph or higher.
  • Major hurricane. A hurricane that falls into Categories 3-5 on the wind scale, with five being the highest. Major hurricanes are capable of extreme damage, including uprooted trees, flooding, downed power lines, and extended outages, as well as home destruction.

How to prepare for a hurricane

Getting ready for a hurricane starts with these preventative measures that will make it easier to be prepared quickly when storms arrive. 

At the beginning of the season

ActionWhy
Create an emergency kit Include essential supplies you may need to survive for a few days, plus a list of emergency contact phone numbers.
Buy surge protectorsSurge protectors make it easy to switch the electricity off at once.
Designate a safe roomChoose an interior room without windows where everyone can gather during a storm.
Know your building Speak with your landlord about the power-outage protocol for apartments or condos with elevators or a key card door entry systems. If you have a garage, make sure you know how to open it manually.

Optional: Install hurricane-proof windows and shutters. This home upgrade can protect the inside of your home from storm wreckage.

What to do when there is a hurricane watch

ActionWhy
Charge all necessary devicesThis list can include cell phones, laptops, headphones, or medical equipment, such as a portable oxygen tank.
Ensure backup power sources can operate safelyIn the event of a power outage, remember to never use a gas-powered generator inside your home. 
Have flashlights easily accessible Ensure you have fresh batteries and backups. 
Freeze containers of water Use recycled juice or soda bottles for extra containers to freeze water in case of a power outage. 
Set your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest temperatureFood will stay fresh for as long as possible if the power goes out.

What to do when there is a hurricane warning

ActionWhy
Bring patio furniture inside Minimize the risk of dangerous debris blowing around. But, remember to do this early on or not at all — do not go outside if the wind gets too strong.
Unplug appliances and large electronicsProtect your devices from electrical surges and floodwater.
Prepare your safe room Gather all family members and ensure your essential supplies are in the same room.

What not to do during a hurricane

As with any emergency, there are also a few things you absolutely should not do during a hurricane. Stay away from all bodies of water and avoid stepping in puddles because “[f]loodwater and standing waters can be dangerous and can make you vulnerable to infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries,” according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC). Be especially aware in areas near downed power lines or damaged electrical equipment. During a hurricane, you may notice a period of calm. Do not go outside until you have confirmation that the storm is over. Additionally, don’t drink the tap water until you have heard from local authorities that it is safe.

How to prepare your emergency kit

It’s always a good idea to have an emergency kit in your home, especially during hurricane season. This kit should include everything your household needs to survive for at least 72 hours. This list is a small selection of everything you could include in your kit, but your kits essentials will depend on the members of your household and your needs. For more options, see the Department of Homeland Security’s full list.

  1. Clean water. Tap water may not be safe to drink after extreme weather. Keep one gallon of water per person per day on hand for emergencies.
  2. Non-perishable foods. Include canned goods, dried fruits, and any other long-lasting items. Don’t forget infant formula, if necessary, or food for your pet.
  3. Backup power. Have extra batteries and chargers for phones and flashlights available. If you have a generator, you can use this for essential appliances.
  4. Prescription medications. Store essentials in a dry, sealed container.
  5. First aid kit. Include gauze, bandages, tweezers, alcohol swabs, and other sterile items.
  6. Sleeping bags and pillows. Seal these in a waterproof bag.
  7. Clean clothes. Set aside at least one outfit per family member.
  8. Cash. ATMs and card readers may be down.
  9. Whistle or flares. Or anything else to help you get someone’s attention.
  10. Face masks. Bring coverings for everyone ages two and above and soap and hand sanitizer, as needed.

Important documents you will need after a hurricane

Besides the emergency kit essentials listed above, you will also want to gather important documents that you may need in the aftermath of a natural disaster. David Lipton, a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, has this advice when it comes to disaster preparedness: “Every time a person affected by a disaster tries to get assistance (insurance companies, State, or Federal government), they will get a different customer service agent. You need to take and keep notes in one place with the who, what, when, where, and whys. Record every expense and every action you take.” He advises keeping a notebook and pen handy to take notes.

Lipton also recommends having an inventory of your personal property, including medical documents, either in a waterproof container or saved on a flash drive. Collect the following details ahead of time for yourself and anyone in your household.

  • Proof of residence, such as a utility bill or mortgage statement. Without proof of residence, you may not be able to get back into your home to assess the damage.
  • Home and auto insurance cards.
  • Personal contact list of people to get in touch with in an emergency. Remember, without power, the contact list in your cellphone may be inaccessible, so having a hard copy of your family and friends’ contact info is crucial.
  • Prescriptions and/or doctors’ orders. Include a written description of your medical needs and your doctor’s contact information in case you cannot communicate in an emergency.
  • Allergy list and/or applicable health history.
  • Health insurance cards, including Medicare or Medicaid, and medical alert tags.
  • Information on any support devices you use (such as an oxygen tank). Be sure to include the serial numbers or style of any necessary devices.

What to do during a power outage after a hurricane

Often, hurricanes of a category between one and three may not cause extreme damage to your home or property but still may leave you without power. Dealing with a temporary power outage differs from enduring an extended power outage. When the power grid is down for a long time, cooking, hygiene, and entertainment can require some unfamiliar solutions.

Cooking without power

NEVER use a grill, generator, or camping stoves in your home, including in your basement, garage, or carport. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), grills, generators, and stoves should be used outdoors at least “20 feet from any window, door, or vent.” 

  • Use charcoal grills or grills with propane tanks to heat food. You can also use a camping stove or even an outdoor fire pit.
  • Use perishables first, then move on to your pantry items. Food in your refrigerator will stay cold for about four hours and freezer for about 24 hours. Opening the doors as little as possible will maintain the cold for longer.

Hygiene

  • Flush toilets manually by pouring water in the tank up to a couple of inches below the overflow tube.
  • Use hand sanitizer to clean your hands and wet wipes to stay clean.
  • You may still be able to shower, depending on your hot water tank. If you use an electric pump to get water from a well or have an electric or gas-powered tank that uses electricity, then you will only be able to use the water remaining in your tank at the time of the outage. However, if you have a gas water heater with a continuous pilot light, you should be able to shower throughout a power outage.
  • Collect water in buckets, your washing machine, or a bathtub before a storm to use for general cleaning. However, do not use stored water or water that may be contaminated for activities such as food preparation (including baby formula), brushing your teeth, or washing dishes.

Keep cool

  • Sleep downstairs and with the windows open. Remember, heat rises, so staying downstairs can be up to 10 degrees cooler. Keeping the windows open will allow for a cross-breeze.
  • A battery-powered fan is a good idea if you want to stay comfortable during a power outage, especially in a humid climate.
  • Evaporation can help cool you down. Techniques include getting your hair wet, spraying yourself with water, or wearing a hat or bandana dipped in water.
  • Stay shaded. Remain in the shadiest part of your property (as long as no trees or debris are at risk of falling).

Entertainment

  • Conserve your cell phone battery in an extended power outage. Don’t use all your battery playing games on your phone.
  • A power outage is a perfect time to break out the old-school, non-electronic games and activities like cards, board games, and coloring books. 

Throughout the 2022 hurricane season, be overly cautious and make sure to pay attention to all weather alerts, regardless of what you’re seeing outside your window. Prepare now to keep yourself and your family safe later. Visit the National Hurricane Center for current alerts and more information.

What not to do during a hurricane

As with any emergency, there are also a few things you absolutely should not do during a hurricane. Stay away from all bodies of water and avoid stepping in puddles. Be especially aware in areas near downed power lines or damaged electrical equipment. During a hurricane, you may notice a period of calm. Do not go outside until you have confirmation that the storm is over. Additionally, don’t drink the tap water until you have heard from local authorities that it is safe.

Throughout the season, be overly cautious and make sure to pay attention to all weather alerts, regardless of what you’re seeing outside your window. Prepare now to keep yourself and your family safe later. Visit the National Hurricane Center for current alerts and more information.

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