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WHN TIP: Tropical Storm/Hurricane Watch or Warning Just Issued?

Read top emergency preparedness and safety tips from the experts here.

After the Hurricane

WHN TIP: Be patient.

Assistance may be in short supply and a long time coming depending on the extent of the hurricane area or due to hurricane-caused flooding.

  1. Be safe, be smart.
  2. Injuries? If your cell phone works, call 911 immediately.

    WHN TIP: Think someone needs help right away?

    Describe the injuries to the 911 operator and listen to their instructions.

  3. Consider your family's health and safety needs. Keep your family together. Be aware of symptoms of stress and fatigue.
  4. Listen to a battery-powered or crank radio or television. They will let you know about local, state and federal relief plans as appropriate.
  5. Pay strict attention to instructions from emergency management and law enforcement agencies. Obey all curfews and emergency orders that are issued.
  6. There may be curfews in place for looting control, safety or areas that are restricted because of hazardous conditions resulting from the hurricane.


  7. Stay on firm, dry ground.
    • Moving water only six inches deep can sweep you off your feet, according to FEMA.
    • Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
    • Shallow standing water can be dangerous for small children.
    • Stay away from flooded roads, rising streams and storm drains. The power of moving water could sweep you into trouble and you do not know how deep the water actually is.
  8. Flood water is full of bacteria, waste and garbage.
    • Keep cuts and sores as clean as possible by washing well with soap to control infection. If a wound develops redness, swelling or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.
  9. Be aware of fire and electrocution possibilities.
    • Report fires and downed power lines to the fire department.
    • Do not touch wiring or electrical appliances. Even if the lightning has ceased, there may be downed lines in your area.
  10. Look out for animals.
    • Many pets and wild animals have been forced from their natural habitats by flooding. If you are bitten by any animal, seek immediate medical attention.
  11. After you and your family are taken care of, help neighbors who may require assistance. People often become isolated and scared during hurricanes.
  12. Talk with your children about what has happened and how they can help during the recovery. Being involved will help them deal with the situation.

WHN TIP: The media.

Hurricanes make captivating news. A reporter may ask to speak with you. Remember, it is your choice whether or not to grant an interview. It is OK to pause and reflect for a moment on your and your family’s welfare before you decide whether to answer their questions.

Working With Authorities, Organizations, and Contacting Others

As soon as it's safe, local and regional authorities — such as sheriff or police officers, firefighters, ambulance services and state or municipal service workers — will be dispatched to severely affected areas. Relief organizations and volunteers might be dispatched as well. Read Working With Authorities and Organizations for more.

Remember to tell friends and relatives that you are safe. Read Contacting Others.

Financial Assistance

Depending on the severity of the hurricane, the time it takes to receive financial assistance may vary. Remember to contact all possible options for assistance: your insurance agent, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army other faith-based organizations, and additional service-oriented organizations.

Read Financial Assistance, Filing for Federal Relief and Types of Disaster Aid. All offer tips on navigating FEMA, the SBA, the federal disaster relief and assistance maze.

If You Have Insurance — Filing a Claim

Read Insurance - Filing a Claim for questions to ask your agent, how to keep detailed records and the claims process.

Returning Home After Evacuating

Be safe, be smart. If you’ve been displaced, all you may be able to think about is getting back home. Wait!

As tough as it may be to hear this: a swift return may not be best for you, your family or your property. You may jeopardize your safety as well as your family’s financial security (by hindering your insurance claim).

More importantly, you must wait until authorities have declared it is safe to return to your home. If they have given the go-ahead, read and print out our comprehensive checklist of what to check for outside, before entering and inside your home. Look at items to take with you and items to retrieve.

Read Document the Damage for tips on taking pictures and cataloging for insurance purposes.

  • Need help spotting and documenting exterior damage after a storm? Read How to Spot Storm Damage with tips from a catastrophe insurance adjuster.

If you are temporarily or permanently moving back home, read Moving Back Home for general safety and health tips.

Again, please do not return home until authorities have declared your home and neighborhood to be safe.

Need to make repairs or rebuild your home? Read our Home Repairs After a Storm article.


Plan Ahead

  1. Replace the items used from your Home Disaster Preparedness Kit and your Car Emergency Kit.
  2. Review and update your emergency plan.
    • Take the time to evaluate what you would do differently if you had the chance.
    • Evaluate all aspects of your plan.
  3. Read Hurricane - Get Prepared and Flood - Get Prepared.

Additional Information

Remember ...

The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical or legal advice. These tips are from first responders, lawyers, insurance agents and people who have shared real-life advice; always check with a doctor, lawyer or appropriate professional you trust before making any legal or healthcare-related decisions.

Thank you ...

A special thank you to the first responders, emergency workers, government officials, lawyers, insurance agents and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice. And, thanks to the sites in our Links section.


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