Hurricane Checklist

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Please see Section 5 of the Emergency Resources Guide Volume 1 for updates and other related info.

Hurricanes are tropical cyclones with winds reaching sustained speeds of 74 miles per hour or more and blowing around a relatively calm center, the “eye” of the hurricane. Hurricanes begin as relatively small tropical cyclones that drift gradually to the westnorthwest. Under certain conditions and as they move away from the equator, these cyclones can increase in size, speed, and intensity until they become full-fledged hurricanes. Hurricanes combine violent winds, torrential rains, and abnormally high waves and storm tides. Heavy and prolonged hurricane rains falling over the hillsides can cause landslides and severe flash flooding. Large ocean swells moving out ahead of the hurricane may begin to reach the shores while the storm itself is still hundreds of miles away. As the hurricane nears the coastline, the storm tides and the high winddriven waves can inundate coastal areas, erode beaches, pound and undermine waterfront structures, highways and other facilities. Follow the steps below prior to, during and after a hurricane.


☐ Learn the elevation and the flooding and wind damage history of your area.

☐ If you live or work near the flood zone, learn safe transportation routes inland.

☐ Learn the location of official shelters or make arrangements with friends or relatives inland to stay with them until the storm has passed.

☐ Determine where to move your boat in an emergency.

☐ Trim back dead or weak branches from trees.

☐ Secure any loose rain gutters and down spouts.

☐ Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.

☐ Protect your windows. Install storm shutters over windows, glass doors and other openings. Alternately, stock tape and plywood panels to cover glass. Use ½ inch plywood cut to fit each window. Remember to mark which board fits which window. Pre-drill holes every 18 inches for screws.

☐ Replace the regular glass in windows and doors with impact-resistant glass.

☐ Buy hurricane and flood insurance. Homeowners polices do not cover damage from the flooding that accompanies a hurricane.

☐ Make an itemized list of all your property.

☐ Prepare and maintain an Emergency Survival Kit.

☐ If you are a pet owner, refer to the Emergency Preparedness Guidelines for Pet Owners.

☐ Identify the location of gas valves, circuit breakers, fire extinguishers, and water valves. Know how to operate them in the event of an emergency.

☐ Have a plan for getting family members back together in the event members are separated from one another during a disaster.

☐ Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.


A hurricane WATCH is declared if there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 36 hours.

☐ Listen for the National Weather Service (NWS) bulletins and Honolulu DEM messages on the local radio, TV stations, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) Weather Radio.

☐ Notify and assist family, friends and neighbors, especially elderly or disabled.

☐ Fuel your vehicle.

☐ Moor small craft securely or move it to safe shelter. Use rope or chain to secure the boat to its trailer. Use tie-downs to anchor the trailer to the ground or house.

☐ Verify that your emergency survival kit is complete.

☐ Bring in or secure outdoor objects, such as lawn furniture, toys, garden tools, garbage cans and other loose material.

☐ Tape, board, or shutter windows to prevent them from shattering.

☐ Remove outside antennas.

☐ Wedge sliding glass doors at the top to prevent the lifting from their tracks.

☐ Back up your car against the inside of the garage door to help it resist strong winds.

☐ Unplug any unnecessary appliances.

☐ Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings. Only open them when absolutely necessary and close them quickly.

☐ Review your evacuation plan.


☐ Notify the individual in charge.

☐ Provide alerting information to employees, guest, vendors, passengers, etc.

☐ Conduct discussions with key personnel.

☐ Review plans and checklists.

☐ Reaffirm individual and organizational responsibilities.

☐ Determine the availability and status of emergency equipment and supplies:

  • Backup generator(s)
  • Tie-down ropes
  • First aid kits
  • Window boarding materials
  • Water and food
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Bedding and blankets
  • Masking tape
  • Tools

☐ Consider decisions to be made if a WARNING is issued and/or evacuation is advised.

☐ Determine if the business should be closed or remain open.

  • Close or move operations to a more suitably constructed/located building if the facility is in the hurricane flood zone or if is not a multiple-story building of heavy concrete and/or steel construction located at least 300 feet from the shoreline.
    • Determine where and how you or those responsible for will seek shelter and how you/they will get there.
  • Remain open if you consider your facilities to be survivable and you are responsible for the safety and well-being of others, or are providing emergency essential services to response and recovery operations. Make sure a sufficient number of employees and supplies will be available to accomplish all essential services and requirements.
  • Remain open if you consider your facilities to be survivable and you are responsible for the safety and well-being of others, or are providing emergency essential services to response and recovery operations. Make sure a sufficient number of employees and supplies will be available to accomplish all essential services and requirements.
  • Excuse employees so that they have sufficient time to prepare their families for evacuation and their homes prior to the hazard.
  • Begin employee excusals no earlier than when a WATCH is issued but not later than a WARNING.
  • Excusal recommendations will generally be made by the Department of Emergency Management over the radio and TV.

☐ Prepare the facilities:

  • Board up or tape windows or protect them with storm shutters.
  • Brace sliding glass doors.
  • Attempt to shore up any on-going construction.
  • Relocate, store, or tie down equipment and loose items, inside and out.
  • Relocate important records, cash receipts, stockage, and supplies to safe areas.
  • Safeguard hazardous materials.
  • Do not drain swimming pools.
  • Turn refrigerators and freezers to the coldest settings.
  • Prior to evacuating, turn off all water, gas, and electric circuits except for freezers and refrigerators.
  • Institute your business’ flood emergency plan to secure flammable liquids and hazardous materials.

☐ Transportation

  • Taxi, tour bus, airport, and delivery truck drivers:
    • Establish priorities in coordination with customers, airport, hotels and the Honolulu DEM.
      • Elderly and disabled needs
      • Medical equipment and supplies
      • Food and water
      • Evacuation transportation
      • Other survival supplies
      • Petroleum supplies
    • Plan to phase down operations so that vehicles are fueled and stored in safe locations prior to the expected arrival of sustained 40 MPH winds, damaging surf, and/or flooding.
  • Aircraft:
    • Disperse to airports outside of the danger zone. Move into an available hangar space or tie down aircraft securely.
    • Check with the State Department of Transportation Airport Administrator
  • Boats and Ships:
    • Small, trailered boats should be stored in warehouses or garages. If left outside, remove from trailers, place on the ground, lash down securely, and partially fill with fresh water.
    • Wet-stored boats should seek refuge in protected harbors, inlets, canals, etc. Reinforce all moorings. Be aware that boat owners can be held responsible for damages caused by their vessels to other people or property.
    • Commercial vessels should check with the Captain of the Port, 14th U.S. Coast Guard District, Honolulu, for guidance and direction.

☐ If the business is remaining open:

  • Perform facility preparation actions listed earlier.
  • Identify responsible people to:
    • Direct and allocate employees, guests, and passengers to safe areas.
    • Account for all employees, guests and passengers.
    • Maintain order and surveillance of evacuated areas.
    • Care for employees, guests, and passengers.
    • Obtain food, water and bedding.
    • Provide security for personal effects.
    • Assist the elderly and disabled, taking into consideration special medications and diets.
    • Provide translation to non-English speaking people.
  • Ensure that there are sufficient personnel available to maintain essential operations.
  • Handle media inquiries and customer complaints.
  • Keep guests and employees informed of the situation.
  • Determine the impact of delayed departures, arrivals, and deliveries and coordinate the scheduling and rescheduling.
  • Monitor and maintain radio nets and telephone service.
    • Consider using a messenger during power outages.
    • Control and minimize outgoing telephone calls.
    • Maintain contact with the Honolulu DEM.

☐ If closing and/or evacuating:

  • Advise all employees, guests, and passengers of the decision.
  • Accomplish the facility preparation actions listed earlier.
  • Provide transportation for employees, guests, passengers, and their belongings, as required.
  • Provide Emergency Survival Kits for each evacuee. (Recommended kit contents are listed in emergency survival kit.)
  • Arrange shelter for those whom you are responsible in multiple-story buildings constructed of heavy concrete and/or steel, at the third floor or above (at least 300 feet inland), or in other safe and suitable buildings of evacuation shelters.
  • Upon departing, turn off the gas and electricity at their main shut-offs, except for refrigerators and freezers.
  • Review the WARNING Checklist.


A hurricane WARNING is issued when a dangerous stomr surge, flooding and winds are expected in 24 hours or less.

☐ Stay tuned to the radio and TV stations for weather updates and Honolulu DEM messages on school closures, employee excusal recommendations, and shelter opening schedules.ngers of the decision.

☐ If you are in a sturdy structure and away from coastal and rainfall flooding, consider staying.

  • Board up garages and porch doors.
  • Move valuables to upper floors.
  • Bring your pets indoors.
  • Fill containers, bathtubs, and washing machine with several days supply of
    drinking water.
  • Use the phone only for emergencies.
  • Stay indoors on the downwind side of the building, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
  • Avoid open flames, such as candles and kerosene lamps, as a source of light.
  • If power is lost, turn off major appliances to reduce power “surge” when electricity is restored.
  • Beware of the eye of the hurricane. Don’t be deceived by its calm and venture outdoors.

☐ If you are in a building that might be affected by storm tide or stream flooding, leave the area.

  • Evacuate early and in the daylight, if possible.
  • If time permits, shut off water and utilities at main stations.
  • Take your emergency survival kit, small valuables, and important papers with you, but travel light. If time permits, move other valuables to a higher floor.
  • If you have pets, leave food and water for them or put them in a carrier and leave them in your car at the shelter location. Shelters will not permit them inside.
  • Secure the house or building by locking doors and windows.
  • Unplug appliances.
  • Drive carefully to the nearest designated shelter, using recommended evacuation routes. Avoid already flooded areas and do not drive where water is over the roads. Do not attempt to drive during a hurricane.

☐ If you are in a building that might be affected by storm tide or stream flooding, leave the area.


☐ Make the final decision to close or remain open.

☐ Advise employees, guests, and passengers of the WARNING and the intended course of action.

☐ Begin in-house relocation, if remaining open, or evacuation, if closing.

☐ Review the “All Clear” checklist.


☐ Go to a safe room if you have one.

☐ Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.

☐ Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.

☐ Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.

☐ Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.

☐ Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.


☐ Wait for the official “All Clear” announcement over the radio or television.

☐ Follow Honolulu DEM advisories/instructions and observe the curfew in effect.

☐ Drive carefully, watching for dangling power lines, undermined roads, and flooded low spots.

☐ Pay attention to the damaged areas:

☐ Road closures and areas roped off for safety reasons

☐ Power outages

☐ Assemble management team on/off-site, as required.

☐ Advise employees, guests, clients, vendors, passengers not to leave safe areas until:

  • Traveling can be safely accomplished.
  • Their destinations are determined to be safe.
  • If a business was closed, do not open it until the above conditions can be met.

☐ If business or house is within an evacuation zone and has sustained damage, as soon as conditions permit:

  • Exercise caution when re-entering the structure. Check for:
    • Structural damage
    • Electrical short circuits. Do not attempt to turn on any electrically operated
      lights or machinery until an electrician has checked your system.
    • Gas leaks
    • Hazardous Materials
    • Broken water lines
    • Food and water spoilage or contamination
  • Determine the status of:
    • Water (operative and potable)
    • Electrical power
    • Communications
    • Fire protection system
    • Elevators
    • Vital records

☐ If damages have occurred

  • Contact your insurance agent
  • Take pictures of the damage, if possible
  • Secure contractor support for:
    • Utility/fire protection system restoration
    • Debris clearance
    • Building repair
    • Handling/safeguarding of hazardous material on premises

☐ Identify and resolve life-threatening or potentially dangerous conditions/situations.

☐ Give first aid where needed and help any people that may be trapped. Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.

☐ Report broken or damaged water, sewer or electrical lines.

☐ Notify:

  • 911 for emergency assistance.
  • Department of Emergency Management of damages sustained or assistance required.
  • American Red Cross of disaster relief needs.
  • Employees, guests, clients, vendors, passengers, and media of schedule for resumption of services.