Don’t be stupid in a hurricane. Avoid these 8 things that can hurt or kill you

·6 min read

One of the worst feelings after a hurricane passes through your neighborhood is the feeling of regret.

If only I had properly secured my windows.

If only I had organized my important papers and documents where I could find them fast.

If only I didn’t run that generator in my house I might not be in a coma now.

If only ....

Don’t be an if only person.

Here’s what to avoid to help you better weather the storm.

That tape would not save your windows from hurricane-force winds. So take it off, already.
That tape would not save your windows from hurricane-force winds. So take it off, already.

1. X-ing the windows with tape

Every year, for decades, hurricane experts have been advising against taping windows to “strengthen them” ahead of a pending storm.

When you slap tape over your windows, you aren’t making them stronger. Unless they are hurricane-rated windows, when flying debris stirred up by winds that can be in the triple digits smashes against a regular window, it’s going to break. Tape may keep the glass from spraying inward in a shower of little pieces. But would you rather be blasted by tiny pieces — which’ll really hurt — or beheaded or stabbed in the heart by a large shard with tape dangling off of it?

Plus, after the storm, that tape is going to have to come off if everything’s intact. Trust us, because we ignored this advice back in 1979 when Hurricane David threatened, but danced away from, Miami. Getting sun-baked adhesive off of a window is way harder than putting it on.

Instead, secure the windows with shutters, if you have them. Or put up plywood. Consider hurricane-rated windows (pricey, but if you’ve the means, a relief). Also, give windows a fighting chance by removing loose objects from your yard and trimming trees (the latter, ideally before hurricane season and not the day of a Tropical Storm Warning) and check the seals on your windows ahead of time to reduce water seepage into your home, suggests Paul Ryan Windows.

2. Cracking open a window to relieve pressure

Some people think it’s a good idea to crack open a window to relieve the pressure inside the house to keep it from expanding like a balloon and blowing up like Dr. Kananga, the bad guy in the old James Bond flick “Live and Let Die.” Homes don’t blow up from internal pressure during a hurricane. Rather, once wind gains entrance it can streak upward and push your roof off the foundation, making it appear as if the house blew up from internal pressure, according to Inverse.

Don’t let the wind gain entrance to your home. Just don’t do it. Protect all sides of your house if you can.

Boarding windows only on the water side? This is how you lose windows. Hurricanes move and winds can come from all directions.
Boarding windows only on the water side? This is how you lose windows. Hurricanes move and winds can come from all directions.

3. Using your body to brace doors and windows

Those who have been through major hurricanes may tell you of the surreal visual of watching their doors and windows bending to the pressure from the winds. In many cases they held, believe it or not. But at this point you aren’t your window’s best ally. Don’t buoy them with your body. You’re no match for nature’s fury. Get into another room, preferably a windowless room, instead.

4. Using candles

The battery-powered lanterns on the left and right are a good tool to have in your house when the power goes out as is often the case in a storm. Just make sure you have fresh batteries on hand. The candles in the middle? Not a good idea. Pretty, but a dangerous fire hazard if left unattended and they tip.
The battery-powered lanterns on the left and right are a good tool to have in your house when the power goes out as is often the case in a storm. Just make sure you have fresh batteries on hand. The candles in the middle? Not a good idea. Pretty, but a dangerous fire hazard if left unattended and they tip.

Candles are lovely when you are able to monitor them at all times without distractions. A raging storm outside your home is a distraction. You won’t be paying attention. You may be scurrying about. Candles tip. They get knocked down. They start fires. If the power goes out during the storm — and it probably will — battery-operated flashlights or lanterns are much safer. And you did buy enough batteries, right?

5. Procrastinating

Supply hasn’t kept up with demand even on ordinary staples like canned cat food at some South Florida grocers. Publix has had to institute a limit on the number of cat food cans customers can buy currently, as these shelves at a Pinecrest location showed in late November 2021. During hurricane season try to have extras on hand if you’ve cats as supplies are already scant. This goes for all pet food.
Supply hasn’t kept up with demand even on ordinary staples like canned cat food at some South Florida grocers. Publix has had to institute a limit on the number of cat food cans customers can buy currently, as these shelves at a Pinecrest location showed in late November 2021. During hurricane season try to have extras on hand if you’ve cats as supplies are already scant. This goes for all pet food.



Speaking of buying batteries, don’t wait until a tropical storm or hurricane is on the news and heading in your direction to rush to the supermarket to buy supplies, like water, batteries, medicines, pet food.

Hurricane preparedness should start ahead of storms.

Reduce the stress of standing in long lines and the stress of not finding what you need. You’ve heard of infant formula shortages and even shortages of canned cat food, judging by the empty shelves at our neighborhood Publix?

Shop ahead of time. And if you have insurance on your home and flood insurance, make sure ahead of time that your policies are current and that you have sufficient coverage for hurricane season. And be organized. Have important documents like these and others in a grab-and-go spot you know of ahead of time.

READ NEXT: Disaster supply kit checklist

6. Going outside too soon

Cabin fever in a shuttered home is a bore. Getting hurt is worse. Once a storm has passed, downed trees and power lines can be dangerous if you stumble into them. So be careful.

Avoid the temptation to venture outdoors during the calm in the eye of the storm, the National Hurricane Center warns. We know you want to take selfies and socialize and see what just happened — but wait until meteorologists inform that the storm is really over in your area. That lull is deceptive and even stronger winds can quickly resume.

“Take shelter immediately as winds will increase rapidly and unpredictably after the eye passes,” the hurricane center warned storm-tossed people in the Abacos who went outside to take photos and videos in the eye of the storm during Dorian in 2019.

Drive only if you have to because roads without stoplights and covered with debris or water, can be deadly. Our drivers, even in nice weather, are, well, not the best.

7. Running a generator inside

Do not run a generator from inside your house or garage — even if you have the doors and windows open, Miami-Dade County officials counsel. Fire hazard. And you expose yourself to dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The same warning applies to running it from your balcony when you live in a multi-unit building like an apartment or town house. Balconies are too close to your own living areas and to your neighbors’ homes.

Also, never run a generator on grass or on a metal surface. Make sure the surface is dry before starting your generator, and keep your hands dry, too.

READ MORE: How busy will 2022 hurricane season be? NOAA predicts ‘above average’ with 6 to 10

8. Not evacuating if told to do so

Getting ready for a storm involves lots of details. Fridge-free food and medicines. Water. Batteries. Tree-trimming. Insurance. Evacuations and flood zones. Boat storage. Pet care.
Getting ready for a storm involves lots of details. Fridge-free food and medicines. Water. Batteries. Tree-trimming. Insurance. Evacuations and flood zones. Boat storage. Pet care.

If there is a mandatory evacuation order where you live, make plans ahead of time so you know where to go — and get out when the getting’s good. If you have pets and are considering a shelter, make sure you find one that allows pets, or have a pet plan ahead of time, suggests Florida Disaster.Org, a division of emergency management.

Note: Public safety officials will not risk their lives to respond to emergency calls in mandatory evacuation zones during the storm so you can be on your own for 72 hours after a storm, warns the Weather Channel.

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, “with a force and violence that had not been seen” for several generations.
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, “with a force and violence that had not been seen” for several generations.