Are You Ready for Atlantic Hurricane Season?

Weather forecasters are predicting an atypically strong hurricane season this year. Here are three ways to keep yourself and your household prepared.

Every year, devastating storms and climate-related events rip through the east coast of Central America and the Gulf Coast of the United States, causing billions in damage and robbing communities of their sense of security. Though the frequency and strength of these disasters are unpredictable, there’s one that’s not: Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs from June to November each year. With weather forecasters predicting an extremely active hurricane season in 2024, here are three ways you and your loved ones can get ready for the next hurricane.

Stay Informed

Climate change and rising ocean temperatures are key determinants of a robust hurricane season. As greenhouse gases trap more heat in the atmosphere, ocean temperatures rise, creating a surge in humidity that can lead to higher wind speeds and record rainfall in tropical storms moving from east to west across the Atlantic. As these storms travel across warmer oceans, they pull in even more moisture and heat than normal, creating intense hurricanes with the potential for massive devastation should they make landfall.

The World Meteorological Organization estimates that every 1°C increase in tropical sea-surface temperature can increase hurricane wind speed by 3% to 5%, leading to significant damage in affected communities—particularly those with fewer resources to weather such storms.

If you live in an area affected by hurricanes and typhoons, pay close attention to local weather forecasts, keeping an eye on where storms are forming and where storms are moving. Recognising this rising trend in storm severity is critical to fostering resilience and preparing for the changing season.

With 40 years of experience responding to rapid-onset disasters, International Medical Corps knows that preparedness saves lives—and that the myriad effects of climate change have very real implications for communities around the world and for the future of humanitarian response itself.

Build Your Own Disaster Kit

Having a disaster kit handy is one of the most critical aspects of preparedness. Should you need to evacuate your house, you’ll want to have the most essential items assembled in one place so you can access them at a moment’s notice. You’ll also want to know where to find other items you may need, such as important documents and medication. If you plan to shelter in place, you’ll need to ensure that you have enough supplies for your household for at least three days.

Having enough supplies on hand to cover your needs in the early hours and days after a disaster is essential to self-reliance and resilience.

“Even in the fastest response, it’s really difficult to get meaningful aid into a disaster area for the first 72 hours,” explains Dr. John Roberts, International Medical Corps’ Senior Emergency Health Advisor.

Here’s an overview of items you should have ready before a hurricane hits:

  • Water: Make sure you have one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and hygiene.
  • Food: Keep at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, along with a manual can opener for canned goods. If you have a pet, make sure to store several days’ supply of food and water for them.
  • Battery-powered or crank radio: Weather and other emergency updates are important sources of information.
  • Flashlight and batteries: You should have several flashlights that will allow you to move confidently at night. Have batteries on hand for several days of use.
  • Clothing: Have at least one complete change of clothing that is appropriate for your climate, including sturdy shoes.
  • First-aid kit: Buying a kit is not enough; take the time to learn how to use its contents. If you or a family member has severe allergies, verify that your kit includes an epinephrine injector. Always restock your first-aid kit after use and check it periodically to ensure that products have not expired.
  • Whistle or other noisemaker: Making noise is the best way to signal that you need help, especially if you are trapped or injured.
  • Tools: Stock your kit with a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities, plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place, and work gloves.
  • Essential supplies and medications: Make sure to keep a supply of personal grooming essentials, feminine products, toiletries and cleaning supplies. Also, if you or a family member depend on prescription medication, talk to your doctor about issuing extra medication to be saved for emergency situations.
  • Cash and credit cards: Know your card numbers and your credit card providers’ customer service numbers. Cash may be needed if the internet is down and credit card processing systems are offline.
  • Cellphone and external batteries: It is a good idea to have an external battery or two on hand in case you are not able to charge your phone right away. It can sometimes take a few days for charging stations to be set up at shelters.
  • Important documents: Save electronic copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records, or keep paper copies in a waterproof, portable container.
  • A few other things to have on hand include a fire extinguisher; matches in a waterproof container; backup battery and phone charger; sleeping bag or blanket; prescription eyeglasses and contact lens with solution; paper plates, cups and plastic utensils; paper and pencil; and activities for children, such as books or puzzles.

Senior Emergency Health Advisor Dr. John Roberts discusses how a household can be best prepared for emergencies, including having a well-stocked disaster kit ready to grab at a moment’s notice.


Make an Emergency Plan

Making an emergency plan for you and your household is an essential part of preparing for a hurricane. Every disaster is different, so make sure to pay close attention to emergency instructions from the fire department, police or other local authorities. Here is a short list of questions to take the time to discuss with your household.

  • Know where to seek shelter in your house and in your community.
  • Identify a meeting place. You should have a few different meeting places in mind—one closer to your house and one a little further away.
  • Plan an evacuation route. It’s important not only to know where you will go, but how you will get there.
  • Write down the phone numbers of any emergency contacts and include them in your disaster kit. If your cell phone battery dies, you will not be able to access any of your contacts.
  • Think through the specific needs of your household. Do you live with older adults or someone with a disability? Young children, pets, etc.? Incorporate these needs into your emergency plan.

Atlantic Hurricane Season affects tens of thousands of people each year, causing massive damage to infrastructure, including costly disruptions to water systems, transportation and the environment. As climate-related disasters increase in frequency and severity, taking the necessary steps to prepare for a storm or urgent evacuation is critical. By staying informed, preparing adequately and supporting organisations working on the front lines of disaster response—such as International Medical Corps—we all can contribute to building a more resilient world.

Help us save lives.