Hurricane season: When is it time to leave your home?

Hurricane Evacuation in Fort Myers, FL

After the devastation and damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, many are wondering whether or not they should leave their homes when the threat of another hurricane is on the horizon. If a major hurricane is forecasted to hit the area where you live, you might hear an order to evacuate (or you might not, such was the case for Houston and Hurricane Harvey).

Even with an evacuation order, many people choose to ignore the call to leave their homes and flee the storm. Why would people choose to stay under dangerous and life-threatening conditions? Would you do the same? Would you stay or go?

Read on to learn when it’s time to leave your home, why some people don’t, and ways to protect your property so that you can feel more confident that your home and belongings are as safe as possible during a hurricane or storm.

Hurricane Evacuation Orders

Major hurricanes that threaten people and property with high winds, storm surges, and flooding will often cause authorities to issue a hurricane evacuation order. This involves the rapid and immediate movement of people away from the threat of the hurricane’s path and potentially threatened areas.

In the case of Hurricane Irma, with its frightening and extensive damages seen in the Caribbean, officials gave hurricane evacuation orders to over 6 million Florida residents living in the Florida Keys, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. This order would prompt one of the largest mass evacuations in American history.

But storm intensity doesn’t always prompt officials to order evacuations. Other times, you’ll hear an order to stay in your home, as sometimes staying at home is safer than leaving. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, Houston local officials told residents to stay at home and ride out the storm. Although the Governor suggested heading north if residents could manage it until the storm passed. But why order residents to stay put?

According to NPR, the evacuation of Houston during Hurricane Rita in 2005 was a disaster in itself, with the direct death toll from the storm itself being less than 10 people, yet this was only a fraction of the deaths that resulted from the evacuation of millions on the freeways leaving the Houston area.

Voluntary Hurricane Evacuations


It’s important to follow evacuation orders if they are given as mandatory. Officials and experts have the data to determine how badly your area will be affected by the hurricane. But what if voluntary evacuation orders are given? Should you stay or should you go?

If you live in a flood-prone or low-lying area, then you should evacuate your home. Hurricanes can produce higher tides that can affect your home even before the storm hits, and when the hurricane makes landfall it can produce life-threatening storm surges. Storm surges often result in the most deaths and damages to property from hurricanes.

If your home isn’t well-built or you live in a mobile home near the coast, you should make plans to leave your home. Mobile homes can even be destroyed by high winds of less powerful hurricanes.

Finally, if you plan on leaving, when should you go? If you’re leaving when young children, older adults or persons with disabilities, you might want to leave before evacuation orders are given, if you’re able to. In this way, you won’t have to spend as much time in your vehicle trying to get out of the area.


You might also be wondering what you should bring with you if you decide to leave. Taking your license or identification card(s) with you, any medications, lots of water and non-perishable food (stores might be closed or you’ll be unable to get off the freeway and back on), an emergency kit, spare clothes and shoes, any important papers (deeds, wills, etc.), pets, and any personal valuables you don’t want to risk losing.


Even with mandatory or voluntary evacuations, some people choose to stay out of stubbornness or are unable to leave. Many people didn’t leave during Hurricane Irma evacuations because they were afraid to lose their jobs, while others simply are physically or financially unable to flee. Still, others won’t leave in fear of their home being damaged or looted.

How Can You Protect Your Home From Hurricane Damages And Looting?

Living in an area that is affected by dangerous storms each hurricane season calls for preparation. Dangerous storm events are happening closer together and more often. It’s time to consider hurricane protection products so that when the time comes, you’ll be more confident to leave your home.

Storm Smart offers is Florida’s largest manufacturer & installer of hurricane protection products, including storm and impact windows, storm panels, storm shutter systems, and more. For more information on how to protect your home or business, get in touch with our hurricane protection experts. Call 239-274-2700 today to get started.