Hurricane Watch vs. Hurricane Warning

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Anticipating hurricane season can cause some anxiety. Although it may feel uncertain, there are some things we know for sure. We’re here to help you feel empowered and prepared by arming you with information. Here’s what you should know about hurricane watches, hurricane warnings and what actions to take to keep your family safe.

The Difference Between Watches and Warnings

Knowing how to interpret storm predictions is an important part of staying safe. And since each type of storm warning comes with its own set of safety guidelines, it can be confusing, especially when you’re feeling stressed.

Two of the most common terms you’ll hear are “hurricane watch” and “hurricane warning.” While they may sound similar, these alerts have key differences.

What Is a Hurricane Watch?

A hurricane watch means that a hurricane-level storm (winds of 74 mph or higher) is possible in your area. A watch is usually issued about 48 hours before storm-force winds might roll in.

Since it can be extremely difficult to prepare for a hurricane after storm-force winds arrive, be sure to take a hurricane watch seriously. Use a hurricane watch to make sure you have:

  • Emergency supplies

  • Evacuation route map

  • Food and water

  • Go-bag with essentials

  • Tank of gas

Learn more about how to make a hurricane emergency plan.

What Is a Hurricane Warning?

A hurricane warning means that storm-force winds are expected in your area. This warning is usually issued about 36 hours before the storm is predicted to arrive.

If possible, stay at home during a hurricane warning, and avoid going out for gas, supplies or errands unless absolutely necessary.

As you shelter at home, be sure to:

  • Fill containers with drinking water

  • Fill sinks and bathtubs with back-up storage water

  • Listen closely for local evacuation orders

  • Review evacuation procedures with your family

  • Stay away from windows and doors

Stay Safe During a Hurricane With COVID-19 In Mind

This 2020 hurricane season will be different. We’ll be dealing with weather emergencies in the face of COVID-19. While you should still take the same safety precautions for hurricane watches and hurricane warnings, there are important adjustments you should make to your emergency plan.

Disaster Supplies Kit

While we’re all still navigating COVID-19, you will want to add these items to your disaster supplies kit:

  • Disinfecting wipes

  • Face masks

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Hand soap

Evacuation Plans

You’ve likely been staying close to home. But if you’re instructed to evacuate your area because of a storm, do so immediately. Fears of COVID-19 should not prevent you from seeking shelter and staying safe.

Check ahead of time to make sure shelters will be open for hurricane evacuees. Some communities have announced closures during hurricane season to prevent spreading the virus. If you do go to a shelter, try to bring your own masks, maintain social distancing and wash your hands frequently.

Learn more about how to evacuate and how to shelter during coronavirus.

Medical Needs

Medical staff and resources, already stretched thin during this pandemic, will be even more strained during a hurricane. Plan for any medical necessities well before a hurricane watch or warning is issued.

Remember to have at least two weeks of prescription medication on hand and keep copies of your health insurance cards in your emergency kit. You can also explore your options for convenient virtual care.

Know We’re In This Together

When you’re dealing with the stress of an approaching hurricane season, remember we’ll be here to help you through every obstacle. Learn more about how to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.

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