Coastal Storms & Hurricanes

Hurricane Safety Tips

A family preparing for an emergency together at the dining room table of their home.

Before a Hurricane

  • Develop a plan with your household members that outlines what to do, how to find each other, and how to communicate if a hurricane strikes. Use Ready New York: My Emergency Plan at
  • If you have a disability, access or functional need, make sure your plan addresses how your needs may affect your ability to evacuate, shelter in place, or communicate with emergency workers. Arrange help from family, friends, or service providers if you will need assistance. If you are unable to evacuate on your own, contact 311 for assistance.
  • Know your zone. Areas of the city subject to storm surge flooding are divided into six evacuation zones (1 through 6) based on risk of storm surge flooding. The City may order residents to evacuate depending on the hurricane's track and projected storm surge. Use the Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder or call 311 (212-639-9675 for Video Relay Service, or TTY: 212-504-4115) to find out if your address is located in an evacuation zone. If you live in an evacuation zone, have a plan for where you will go if an evacuation order is issued for your area.
  • Stay informed by signing up for Notify NYC to receive emergency notifications and updates via email, phone, SMS /text, or Twitter. Notify NYC messages are also available in American Sign Language (ASL).

When a Hurricane Watch is Announced

  • Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult when winds reach tropical storm force, watches are issued 48 hours before tropical-storm-force winds are predicted to occur.
  • Before a hurricane, residents should find out whether they live in one of New York City's hurricane evacuation zones. If ordered to evacuate, do so as directed. Use public transportation if possible. Public transportation may shut down hours before the storm.
    • Evacuees will need to relocate farther inland with friends or family or seek an evacuation center outside the storm surge area. During hurricane season, residents should think carefully about where they would go if evacuation instructions were issued.
    • Evacuate early if you rely on elevators to get out of your building. Elevators may be out of service and may not be available at all times.
  • Before, during or after a hurricane, residents can call 311 for information. Learn more about hurricane evacuation
  • Prepare to be self-sufficient for up to seven days without help or emergency services. Prepare a Go Bag and an emergency supply kit. Assume that many of the streets and stores in your neighborhood will be closed. A watch may be followed by disruptions to electricity, gas, water or telephone service.
  • Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors, especially older adults and people with disabilities, access and functional needs, or health conditions. Help them to prepare and evacuate if needed. Contact family members outside your household to coordinate and inform each other about preparations. Avoid separating your immediate family. Develop a disaster plan that best suits your needs.
  • Bring inside loose, lightweight objects, such as lawn furniture and garbage cans.
  • Anchor objects that will be unsafe to bring inside, like gas grills or propane tanks. Turn off propane tanks.
  • Close windows and outside doors securely.
  • Move valuable items from basements to upper floors. (Basements are vulnerable to flooding.)
  • Charge cell phone batteries.
  • Top off your vehicle and generator with fuel.
  • Consider moving your vehicle to higher ground if you live in an evacuation zone.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to a colder setting. If you lose power, items that need refrigeration will stay cooler for longer.
  • Fill your bathtub and other large containers with water — you may lose water service if the power goes out.
  • Refill prescription medications.
  • Take out extra cash.
  • Get information on how to prepare buildings for weather emergencies, natural disasters, and power outages
  • Place valuables into waterproof containers or plastic bags.
  • Residents of high-rise apartment buildings may face special risks from hurricanes even if they live safely outside evacuation zone boundaries. If you live in a high-rise building, make sure your windows are closed, stay away from windows in case they break or shatter.

Prepare for Water and Sewer Disruptions

  • To keep perishable food cold, freeze water in plastic jugs and use in freezer or coolers. Fill up other emergency water containers.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to a colder setting. If you lose power, items that need refrigeration will stay cooler for a longer period.
  • Clean jugs, bottles and other containers. Scrub bathtubs thoroughly, sponge and swab with regular, unscented liquid chlorine bleach, then rinse. Let the tub and other containers dry.
  • If you live in a high-rise, you may lose water service if the power goes out. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water.
  • If you have a pool, do not drain it completely. Instead, drop the level by one or two feet. Submerge outdoor furniture and pool equipment in the pool. Turn off electricity to pool pump. Add extra chlorine to compensate for heavy rains.
  • Keep five-gallon buckets with tight-fitting lids for use as emergency toilets. Line each bucket with a heavy-duty plastic trash bag.
    Learn more about food supply preparation for an emergency

Prepare for Power Disruptions

  • Make sure you have all recommended items in your emergency supply kit in case you lose power or other basic services. If you have concerns about how a loss of power, basic services, and public transportation may affect you, consider evacuating.
  • If you depend on power for life-sustaining equipment, plan to evacuate. You may lose power following a hurricane. Ask your utility company if your medical equipment qualifies you to be listed as a life-sustaining equipment customer.
  • Do not use candles or kerosene lamps as light sources, as they can pose a fire hazard. Instead, keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries on hand.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to coldest settings. Open only when absolutely necessary, then close quickly.
  • In the event that you need to evacuate your home, unplug appliances to prevent damage in case of an electrical power surge.
  • Authorities will instruct you if you should turn off utilities.
    Learn more about power disruptions
  • If you or anyone in your home depends on electrically-powered life-sustaining medical equipment (such as a ventilator or cardiac device), receives dialysis or has limited mobility, there are specific steps you should take to prepare for a coastal storm. Learn more from the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

More Resources

Coastal storm-related health and safety tips (NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene)