Prepare Your Health for Hurricane Season

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Road sign pointing in the direction of a hurricane evacuation route.

Andrea. Dorian. Humberto.

Did You Know: Hurricanes are named, according to NOAA, so people don’t confuse one storm with another. The World Meteorological Organization retires a name when a storm is “so deadly or destructive that the future use of the name would be insensitive.” The names Florence and Michael were retired after the 2018 hurricane season, and replaced with Francine and Milton.

In all, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), of which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a member, has a list of 21 names that they will use this year to identify hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season.

What’s in a name? A major hurricane by any name is hazardous to public health and safety, potentially life threatening, and important to prepare for.

Right now you’ve got the benefit of time to contemplate and compile the personal health preparedness needs of your family. Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1.

What you don’t want to do is get caught scrambling days before a storm to collect the personal needs, prescriptions, paperwork, and power sources you need as if you were shopping for a gift at the last minute.

Spare yourself the stress of being unprepared for a hurricane and spend Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 5-11) getting your ducks in a row. Here are just a few ways you can prepare your health for the start of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1.

Personal Preparedness

No one can prepare your family for a disaster like you can. That’s because no one knows the personal health and healthcare needs of your family like you do. And when you compare the possible risks of not being prepared to the potential rewards, for example, of creating an emergency water supply, the importance of personal health preparedness becomes clear. Here are a few ways you can get started.

  • Contact your state public health department to find out if laws where you live permit pharmacists to dispense a 30-day refill of medications in advance of an emergency. Some states allow pharmacists in counties under an emergency declaration to refill specific prescriptions.
  • Collect and protect any important paperwork, such as health insurance cards and passports, that can help you prove medical coverage and/or your identity after an emergency.
  • Have backup power sources, including extra batteries, car chargers, and a generator, for you battery- and electricity-powered devices and appliances (e.g., refrigerator). Remember, if you plan to use a generator, to place it outdoors, in a dry area, and at least 20 feet away from your home.

Pet Preparedness

Pets are family and—as such–they need to play into your preparedness calculus no matter how big or small, furry, feathered, or finned. Start by asking yourself some important questions.

Where will I take them?

How will I find my pet if we are separated?

What sort of supplies will they need and how much?

Just thinking or talking through answers to questions like these is a good first step. Here are some other ways you can prepare your pets:

  • Microchip your pets. Microchips are, in general, inexpensive and can help reunite lost pets with their families IF you keep the information up-to-date.
  • Plan where you and your pet will stay in case you need to evacuate your home. Pre-identify shelters, a pet-friendly hotel, or an out-of-town friend or relative where you can take your pets in an evacuation. Local animal shelters may be able to offer advice on what to do with your pets if you are asked to evacuate your home.
  • Include contact information for your veterinarian and Animal Poison Control Helpline (888-426-4435) to your Emergency Action Plan.

Location. Location. Location.

You’ve probably heard the saying “Location. Location. Location” about real estate, but it also applies to hurricane preparedness. That is to say, depending on the path of a hurricane, your home may not be the safest place to be.

Be prepared to relocate if asked to evacuate by local authorities. It is of the utmost importance that you always follow an evacuation order and never risk your health or safety to stay behind and protect property. Here are just a few things you can do to help improve your evacuation time.

  • Test drive your evacuation route(s) so you know where to go if given the order. Take note of gas stations, emergency departments, urgent care centers, veterinarians, etc. along the way.
  • Keep your car prepared with a first aid kit, car charger, maps, jumper cables, a spare tire, and a full tank of gas. If you do not own a vehicle and/or rely on public transportation, contact your local emergency management agency to arrange transportation assistance.
  • Pack emergency supplies in a portable and durable container(s), such as plastic bin, duffel bag, backpack, a trash can with a lid, and/or carry-on luggage. Do NOT assume an evacuation shelter can provide for your unique health needs.

Learn more about personal health preparedness on our Prepare Your Health website.


Thanks in advance for your questions and comments on this Public Health Matters post. Please note that the CDC does not give personal medical advice. If you are concerned you have a disease or condition, talk to your doctor. 

Have a question for CDC? CDC-INFO ( offers live agents by phone and email to help you find the latest, reliable, and science-based health information on more than 750 health topics.

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One comment on “Prepare Your Health for Hurricane Season”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    As someone who lives in Florida and is a registered nurse, I think this is great information. I enjoyed reading this blog and it was very informative. I’ve witnessed first hand how people can wait until the last minute and go into panic mode trying to gather as many supplies as they can. At this point many stores are sold out of necessary things and people are not able to fully prepared themselves and their families for hurricanes. Buying supplies is just as important as ensuring your important documents are gathered and property stored. I never would’ve thought about picking up medication in advanced to be prepared, this is great advice!

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Page last reviewed: August 21, 2019
Page last updated: August 21, 2019