How to Shelter Safely During a Hurricane in 2020

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While we can’t change the weather, we can help you plan ahead. Taking the right precautions now, including planning a safe place to shelter, can help keep you and your family safe as the 2020 hurricane season approaches. 

Whether sheltering at home, at a hotel or in a community shelter, the steps to ensuring your safety are usually much the same. But in the wake of the recent pandemic, how do you make sure you’re protected from both the storm and viruses? We’ve got some tips to help you prepare ahead of time. 

Sheltering at Home, Much Like You’ve Been Doing Recently 

Recently, simply staying put has been one of the best things we can do to protect ourselves and our family from getting sick. Likewise, taking shelter at home during a hurricane is usually our first line of defense against a storm.  

Modifying Your Disaster Supply Kit in Light of the Pandemic 

While there are lots of important preparations to make when sheltering at home during a severe storm, including having a disaster supply kit ready, there are additional items we’ll need to add to our emergency kits this year in addition to our usual stash. These include:  

  • Disinfecting wipes 

  • Face masks 

  • Hand sanitizer  

  • Hand soap 

  • Thermometer 

Evacuating to a Shelter 

If a severe hurricane, or flooding from a hurricane, happens in your area, local authorities may order you to evacuate your home. That’s why it’s important to have an evacuation plan in place well ahead of the storm season.  

If you plan on staying in a community shelter during an evacuation, there are extra precautions to consider this year because of the recent pandemic.  

If this is your first time planning for hurricane season, you’ll need to find an emergency shelter near you.  

Or, if your family already has a plan in place, you must contact your planned shelter ahead of time to make sure they’ll still be open. In 2020, some shelters, such as those located in schools, have closed due to COVID-19. Your local authorities may designate other structures, like hotels or dorms, as alternative public shelters.  

Staying Safe From COVID-19 at Public Shelters 

While staying at a public shelter, you should take the same steps you’ve taken when you’ve needed to make essential trips (grocery shopping, going to the doctor, etc.) out into the public during stay-at-home orders. The Red Cross is doing its part to ensure your family’s safety by putting new guidelines in place to make shelters as safe as possible, including spacing cots further apart and implementing temperature checks.  

You can do your part to make shelters safer by: 

  • Leaving nonessential items at home (everything you bring to the shelter will need to be sanitized) 

  • Staying at least 6 feet apart from others 

  • Washing your hands frequently  

  • Wearing a face mask 

Learn more about how to safely evacuate in 2020 with the pandemic in mind.   

Sheltering in Place, From Anywhere 

If a tornado, flood, hurricane or other disaster hits suddenly, local authorities may ask you to shelter in place. This means you should stay put, wherever you are — at work, in the grocery store or even in your car.  

When sheltering in place, to the extent possible, you should: 

  • Contact family members to let them know your location  

  • Follow social distancing rules if you’re with others, and wear a face mask if you have one 

  • Leave your shelter only when you’re told it’s safe 

  • Listen to the radio for updates from local authorities 

  • Stay away from windows and doors 

Helpful Resources for You 

Use your resources to get the information and updates you need during an emergency. These are helpful: 

Nothing Is More Important to Us Than You 

We know the 2020 hurricane season is especially stressful in light of COVID-19. If you or a loved one needs health care, know that we’ve taken extra safety precautions for your protection at every facility. We want to assure you that you can get the in-person care you need with the peace of mind you deserve. 

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