Here’s guidance from the National Weather Service1, Federal Emergency Management Agency2 and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention3 to help you in case of hurricanes in your area.

  1. Know your area’s risk. Many states or jurisdictions divide localities into zones. Ordered evacuations are listed according to the risks in these zones. Know which zone you live in, evacuation routes from your zone and shelter locations within your zone. You can check this on your state’s emergency management page.



    North Carolina

    South Carolina

  2. Make a plan. Create a plan that includes the steps your family will take in response to a hurricane. This can include shelters, evacuation routes, communication plans and preparedness kits. In areas where hurricanes are common, shelters are pre-established. Learn where they are and how you can get to them.
  3. Recognize warnings and alerts for hurricanes. It is important in all disasters that you recognize your community’s warning system. This is how you will get important notices about evacuations.

    National Weather Service definitions


    Storm Surge Warning: There is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 36 hours. If you are under a storm surge warning, check for evacuation orders from your local officials.

    Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are expected somewhere within the specified area. NHC issues a hurricane warning 36 hours in advance of tropical storm-force winds to give you time to complete your preparations. Evacuate immediately if so ordered.

    Tropical Storm Warning: Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected within your area within 36 hours.

    Extreme Wind Warning: Extreme sustained winds of a major hurricane (115 mph or greater), usually associated with the eyewall, are expected to begin within an hour. Take immediate shelter in the interior portion of a well-built structure.


    Storm Surge Watch: There is a possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours.

    Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or greater) are possible within your area. Because it may not be safe to prepare for a hurricane once winds reach tropical storm force, the NHC issues hurricane watches 48 hours before it anticipates tropical storm-force winds.

    Tropical Storm Watch: Tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible in the specified area within 48 hours.

  4. Build a kit. Make sure you have a kit with essential supplies specific for hurricanes. These can include an emergency food and water supply, medicine supply, and emergency power sources such as flashlights and extra batteries.
  5. Prepare your home.
    • Make sure you don’t have anything outside that could blow around and damage your home. Move lawn furniture, grills and other outdoor items into or under a shelter.
    • Consider storm shutters for windows and doors.
    • Fill clean water containers.
  6. Returning home.
    • Pay attention to local officials for information and special instructions.
    • Be careful during clean up. Wear protective clothing and use appropriate face coverings or masks if cleaning mold or other debris.
    • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.
    • Do not wade in flood water, which can contain dangerous pathogens that cause illnesses.
    • Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems often are down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
    • Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance.

For more information on hurricane safety, see how to be ready for hurricanes.

Hurricane Season dates

Atlantic hurricane season: June 1–November 30.

Eastern North Pacific hurricane season: May 15–November 30.

Central North Pacific hurricane season: June 1–November 30.

Staffir Simpson Wind Scale⁴

Category 1: 74–95 mph winds

Category 2: 96–110 mph winds

Category 3: 111–129 mph winds

Category 4: 130–156 mph winds

Category 5: 157+ mph winds


  1. “National Weather Service safety tips,” last accessed June 13, 2023,
  2. “Disaster information,” last accessed June 13, 2023,
  3. “Natural disasters and severe weather,” last accessed June 13, 2023,
  4. “Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale,” last accessed June 13, 2023,