If floodwater starts coming into your home:
Do not go outside and wade through the water. Floodwater and storm surge can move very quickly, and live power lines could be hidden in the water. Stay inside. Stand or sit off the floor, like on a bed or table. If the water becomes too high, get on your roof if necessary.
If there is a tornado or high sustained winds:
Get to the lowest level of your home and take shelter in an interior room without windows, like a closet or hallway. Lie on the floor under a table or other sturdy object if you cannot make it to a safe room. Curl up and cover your head with a mattress or another item.
If you are outside, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If you cannot get to a safe building, find a low area like a ditch. Lay down and protect your head. Do not take shelter under a highway bridge or overpass.
If the power goes out for up to six hours:
Move perishable foods from the refrigerator into an ice-filled cooler. Put a thermometer in the cooler to make sure it stays below 40 degrees. Meats and other perishable foods above 40 degrees will spoil after two hours.
If the power stays out for up to two days:
Food in the freezer can be stored safely for two days if you keep the freezer door shut. Once the storm passes, cook any unspoiled food outside and consider sharing with your neighbors. Beyond two days, you will need nonperishable food. Learn more about food safety.
If the water supply is affected:
Monitor the news for boil water advisories, which tell you if there is a possibility of contamination. Under a boil water advisory, you can disinfect the water using these methods:
- Boiling: Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil for one minute to ensure bacteria, viruses or parasites are gone.
- Bleaching: Add 1/8 teaspoon of unscented bleach per gallon of water and let stand for 30 minutes. Use bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Bleaching is less effective than boiling, but will work if there is no way to boil water.
If there is a sewer outage:
Do not flush your toilet if a sewage outage is announced. Flushing could cause sewage to backup into your home. Use a portable toilet, like one used on a boat or camper, or set one up by using one of the following methods:
- Line a five-gallon bucket with a heavy-duty trash bag. Make sure the bucket has a tight lid. Use household bleach as a disinfectant.
- Turn off your outside water supply. Empty the water from the toilet bowl, and line the empty bowl with a heavy-duty trash bag.
Do not use cat litter. It cannot be flushed after the sewer system is running. When you learn that the sewer is operating again, dump the contents of your emergency toilet into your household toilet and flush. Thoroughly sanitize your emergency toilet with bleach before storing or disposing. Bleach can be used as a disinfectant for cleaning by mixing nine parts of water to one part bleach.
If phone, cable and cell service is down:
- Use a battery- or crank-powered radio. Radio broadcasts are usually the last communication source to go down, and AM stations can broadcast longer than FM. Severe weather alerts are also transmitted through the NOAA Weather Alert Radio.
- Texting messaging may work when other services do not. If your phone’s digital clock works, then you can send and receive texts. Social media and mobile apps may be working as well.
- Keep your phone and other devices charged. Use your back-up battery charger and solar-battery chargers. Use a vehicle to to charge your devices. If you have power and your neighbors don’t, invite them recharge their devices.