Are You Prepared to Evacuate or Stay?

If a hurricane were approaching the Rhode Island coastline, would you be ready to evacuate or ride out the storm at home? Rhode Islanders who live near the coast need to be prepared for either scenario.

  • Step 1: Find out if your home is in the storm surge-flooding zone. Contact your local emergency management office for this information.
  • Step 2: Determine where you will go if you are told to evacuate. Will you go inland to a hotel, to the home of a friend or relative or to a local public shelter? If you were advised to evacuate, do you know which route you would take? Again, your local emergency manager can help you answer these questions.
  • Step 3: Whether you evacuate or stay, take action to protect your home. Cut back dead trees and limbs and purchase storm shutters or pre-cut plywood for all your windows to reduce damage to your home. Consider retrofitting your garage door by installing horizontal bracing onto each door panel. High winds that enter through the garage can blow out doors, windows, walls and even the roof. You may want to purchase flood insurance. Homeowner's policies do not cover damage from flooding, so a separate flood insurance policy is essential if you live in an area that could be flooded. Flood insurance is available from any insurance agent and requires a 30-day waiting period before becoming effective.
  • Step 4: Stock up on non-perishable foods, water, flashlights and extra batteries, a first-aid kit, battery-powered radio and other essential items. If you need to evacuate, make sure you can consolidate these items into a portable disaster supply kit.

The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, in cooperation with the National Weather Service and local emergency management officials, offers the following safety tips to protect lives and reduce damage before, during and after hurricanes.

Before the Storm

  • Know your risk. Consult your local emergency management office for information on preparedness in your area.
  • Identify where to go if you are told to evacuate and the safest route to get there. Choose several places - a friend’s home in another town, a motel or a shelter. Remember, public shelters and many motels don’t allow pets in their facilities.
  • Pre-pack a hurricane supplies kit with a three-day supply of water, non-perishable food, first-aid kit, battery-operated radio and extra batteries, and other essential items.
  • Consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio for National Weather Service reports and severe weather warnings.
  • Re-check your supply of plywood, tools, batteries, tarps and plastic sheeting for roof repairs.
  • Cut dead trees and limbs that could fall on your home.
  • Make sure you have a current flood insurance policy. Flood insurance is not typically a part of a homeowner's policy. A 30-day waiting period is generally required to purchase flood insurance, so take the time now to visit your insurance agent to learn more.
  • Take pictures of your property before the storm to help validate your claim and remember to take your policies with you if you need to evacuate.

When a Hurricane is Approaching

  • Listen to your local radio and TV stations and check here at for updated storm information. A hurricane watch means possible danger; if the danger increases, a hurricane warning will be issued.
  • Bring in garbage cans, lawn furniture and other items that could blow away.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank and prepare to evacuate if told to do so.
  • If you are told to evacuate, do so immediately.

During the Storm

  • If you are not advised to evacuate, remain indoors, away from windows. If necessary, seek refuge in an interior, windowless room. Use a mattress to protect you from falling debris.

After the Storm

  • Listen to your local radio stations for official disaster relief information and instructions.
  • Be prepared to do without power, telephone or any outside services for a week or more.
  • Watch out for downed power lines, weakened structures, rodents and snakes, and avoid puddles of standing water.
  • Avoid drinking tap water. Eat only foods you are absolutely sure are safe.
  • Be extra careful when handling power tools, gas lanterns, generators and matches.
  • Avoid using candles as a light source. Deadly fires can result.