hurricane dorian
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Hurricane Dorian
Courtesy NOAA

Hurricane Dorian is bearing down on Florida. The latest word is that it will make landfall somewhere on Florida’s Atlantic coast late Sunday night or early Monday morning as a category four storm.

Tropical Weather Florida hurricane dorian
Shoppers wait in long lines at Costco, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Davie, Fla., as they stock up on supplies ahead of Hurricane Dorian. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

If you live in the southeast, you likely already have a disaster preparedness plan for just these kinds of situations. Let’s hope so. But here are three tips for gun owners to ensure your safety and the security of your firearms.

1) Personal safety comes first

The first and foremost consideration is your personal safety and that of your family. You may be planning to ride out the storm in place, in which case you’ll want to have at least one firearm handy, preferably carried on your person. Open carry in your own home and on your property is legal virtually everywhere, but be sure to know your local laws.

Depending on the intensity of the storm, however, your situation could change. You could be ordered to evacuate by local authorities. If you’re forced to leave your home, be prepared to take your firearms and a supply of ammunition with you. In addition to the gun(s) you may be carrying, that means including holsters and slings with ammo cans, cases and other gear to carry everything securely in your vehicle.

2) Know the laws in surrounding states

If you’re forced to travel over state lines in order to get away from the effects of the storm, be aware that the laws concerning your firearms and how they can be legally carried can vary extensively.

Storm evacuation is stressful enough without encountering legal problems due to the firearms and magazines you may be transporting or how you’re carrying them. Be familiar with the concealed carry reciprocity laws in any states you’re likely to be traveling to and staying in until you can return home.

3) Protect the guns you leave behind

It may not be possible to take all of your firearms with you should you be forced to leave your home. People, pets and clothing and emergency gear will take precedence in your vehicle. If you’re forced to leave firearms behind, do what you can to ensure they’re protected from water damage and potential looters.

Move firearms you can’t take with you to an upper floor to guard against flooding. Store them in a safe or lockable cabinet to keep them as secure as you can while you’re out of your home.

You’ll also want to protect them from water damage as much as possible. If your guns are stored in a safe, you can improve its water resistance by using foam gap filler around the door edges that’s available at any hardware store. If not in a safe, keep your firearms in the most secure containers you have (Pelican type cases work well for this) at the highest level possible in your home, covered by a tarp or plastic sheeting that’s secured with duct tape.

Here’s hoping you and your family stay safe no matter what your plans are for dealing with the storm and its aftermath.

You may also want to read Luis Valdes’ excellent post on Florida’s gun laws during emergencies from last year.


More from TTAG about hurricane prep and dealing with the aftermath: 

Hurricanes, Guns and Public Safety

Jeff Gonzales: The Lesson of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey: Personal Defense Lessons Learned During a Disaster

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  1. If you live in a Hurricane zone. Your plans should have been made long ago. Beyond that:
    Don’t leave firearms behind. PERIOD.

  2. Foam filler or Flex Seal indeed….but don’t forget if you have an electrical outlet inside the safe to disconnect it (preventing short circuit of lights and golden rod etc) and spray the usual hole in the lower back of the safe where the wire passes thru. The mechanical or electronic lock might be worth covering in impervious material and then seal around it outer edge. Imagine placing a tupperware container over the lock and sealing it to the door. And finally if you have bolts on the floor of the safe into concrete, spray the tops of the bolts….

    Water may be around the safe for days if not weeks ! You want every possible breach of the steel box sealed up. If even tiny amounts of water get inside and you can’t get to the contents for a couple of weeks, you may find everything rusted beyond recovery.

    • Johny Go Lightly,

      I believe it is impossible to make any gunsafe waterproof if it was not explicitly designed and robustly tested to be waterproof — and I have never heard of such a gun safe.

      If your gun safe is going to be submerged for several minutes or more, water will find its way inside in spite of your best efforts. The best that you can do is make sure that wind-driven rain will not infiltrate your safe. And on that topic, I am thinking that you actually want two small holes in the bottom of your safe to ensure that it can drain immediately if any water does get inside.

      I believe the best method to ensure that water will not damage your firearms if submerged under water is to enclose your firearms in a truly waterproof container that will remain waterproof even when submerged for days. Off the top of my head, that means pricey firearm cases (such as the Pelican brand) or huge PVC tubes with a solvent-welded cap on one end and a threaded cap with Teflon tape and pipe threading compound on the other end. And I would even be tempted to install a tire air valve in an end cap that would allow you to add a bit of compressed air inside that PVC tube for added insurance.

      If flooding is not a risk, then simply apply a high-quality duct tape all around the door to cover the gap between the door and the body of the safe. And cover any holes in the back of the safe as well. As for sealing the combination lock on the door? I don’t think there is much that you can do. You could try to put heavy-duty plastic sheeting over it and tape that plastic to the door. Unfortunately, I anticipate that 120 m.p.h. winds will destroy that plastic film in short order.

        • Teflon tape is unnecessary with PVC because pipe threading compound is good enough?

          I know I had one threaded joint one time that would not get waterproof until I applied both. I honestly do not remember if it was PVC though: it could have been brass.

        • PVC threaded fittings shouldn’t require any help, as long as the threads are even marginally clean and undamaged.

          Metal fittings don’t always need, but can usually benefit from, some sort of assistance.

    • “Foam filler or Flex Seal indeed…”

      A much more effective strategy is to put your guns in a large or extra-large garbage bag that you will seal up the best you could with strong tape.

      Twist up the bag nice and tight and then fold the twist over on its self and tape that up. Store those high up, like on a closet shelf. If you lose your roof that should keep them dry…

  3. Fun facts:

    I visited the Gulf Coast after hurricane Katrina. I noticed a few hugely important truths about hurricane damage.
    (1) Utter devastation was confined to within 1/2 mile of the coast.
    (2) Storm surge and flooding was arguably the exclusive cause of all significant damage beyond 1/2 mile from the coast.
    (3) Wind damage inland was almost always minor roof deck damage.
    (4) Wind and flooding also caused some trees to fall which sometimes damaged homes extensively as well.

    Another fascinating detail: wind caused several orders of magnitude more damage to flat surfaces than round surfaces.

  4. To avoid hurricane damage to your gun collection, move away from places that have hurricanes. Curiously, scientists have discovered that doing this has the unanticipated effect of avoiding hurricane damage to your furniture, your food, your pets, your personal watercraft, as well as small and large household appliances.

    • East central US is the place to be. No major natural disasters on a regular basis. Just watch out for the states that want to take your guns.

    • “…scientists have discovered that doing this has the unanticipated effect of avoiding hurricane damage to your furniture, your food, your pets, your personal watercraft…”

      Personal watercraft? I take it you have no clue as to the environment they are designed operate in. It’s called ‘water’. They float all on their own just fine in flooding situations.

      And it takes serious effort to sink them, considering all the expanding closed-cell foam used in their construction… 😉

  5. Good thoughts.
    I’d also echo the thought of not leaving firearms behind.
    We had a serious rainfall event in 1996. A buddy in Salem called those of us on higher ground to help him evacuate his guns and ammo. Up until that day, I thought I had an ammo obsession. 3 truckloads of ammo later, he says, leave the rest. We got the important stuff…
    Been trying to catch up with him ever since.

    • Tom,
      I used to shoot clays against two brothers who ordered ammunition by the ton several times a year. I thought that was a lot then. Will have to tell them they are falling behind lol

      • I don’t have a TON of ammo (that really is a LOT of ammo) but between my brother and I there is about 20,000 rounds in stock at all times… Go to the range shoot up 500 reorder on the way home, keep it rotated…

  6. There will be major, and I mean MAJOR looting before, during and after this storm. And that doesn’t include dealing with all those swamp critters – gators, snakes, etc.

    The authorities are going to be overwhelmed, so y’all folks in the path are gonna be on your own for days, possibly weeks. Prepare accordingly. Or leave, and kiss it all goodbye.

      • Remember Katrina? Florida has 10 times the population that was in the path of Katrina. If it comes ashore along the heavily populated East Coast it ain’t gonna be pretty.

        • Katrina crossed South Fl before it hit the Gulf Coast…. Florida has been in the path of some of the biggest and strongest hurricanes in recorded history…. There was a unique situation in New Orleans that would not have occurred had the levee not been breached flooding all of the shelters and trapping a bunch of folks that culd not evacuate before the storm as well as a bunch of criminals and they would have been fine had it just been the wind and rain from the storm.. No such situation exists in Florida, there is a way out before, during and after any storm, the one exception possibly being the keys if the bridges got knocked out… The worst case scenario in Fl is an extended power outage (longest I’ve experienced was 10 days after Charlie) but my generator can run 3 window AC units, fridge, lights, tvs and the pump on my solar water heater… I have a 50 gal barrel and 5 six gallon gas cans , I am 25 miles from the east coast and 24 feet above sea level… I can assure you there will be nothing like New Orleans happening here…

        • Looting requires two things: individuals with criminal intent, and a climate that doesn’t deter such activity. After Harvey, Houston had a few criminally-inclined individuals but the overwhelming don’t-F-with-me attitude of honest citizens trying to help each other survive and rebuild kept them at bay. I saw dozens of open carriers, signs warning looters, etc.

        • Yeah, I do. I did the medical triage from the Superdome to the Astrodome.
          There have been a whole of hurricanes since then without looting.

      • Oh JW, there will be a pile of looting! The insurance companies looting their customers. The contractors looting the vulnerable. And the state politicians looting the federal emergency funds.

    • Eh. This will be like my 6th or 7th hurricane. Now, I’m not saying they’re nothing to worry about, they are. They’re the strongest weather event on the planet. However, most times the situation doesn’t devolve into total anarchy and most storms don’t annihilate everything like a Michael bay movie. Living in a hurricane prone area, yes, you do want a solid stockpile. Even a cat one usually knocks the power out for a few days. A big one like Irma, Andrew, or Katrina can do it for months. Looting an anarchy can and do happen sometimes, especially with the big ones that hit big cities, when you have thousands of people get desperate.

      But for the most part, it’s really not all that exciting. Before the storm there’s always your run on gas and water. Big deal, you should have some anyway. Then the storm comes in and it’s a ton of rain and wind. If you’re close to the coast it’s far more dangerous. Then the power goes out and the storm leaves. Then you sit around for a few days, sometimes weeks, playing 1850 waiting for the power to come back.

    • The FL panhandle doesnt have the population of Central and South FL.

      So we had to import lowlife turds from South Florida to come up and loot.

      Seriously, we have 5 or 6 six crews arrested …. all from down south.

      No telling how many that didnt get caught.

  7. Good time to clean and oil your guns. Clean and Load all your mags. Inventory your ammo. Maybe grab a parts kit and build it or finish a “project”. Or reload a couple thousand rounds.

  8. Been there. Done that. Got several T-shirts. First, firearms. Have a good rifle with spare mags. I know I said a good rifle. Those of you with ARs will just have to make do. Next, keep a handgun on your person, with reloads, at all times. I’ve slept fully clothed and armed many times. Those of you with an infantry MOS know what I’m talking about. Food and water for 72 hours. At least. Medical supplies. Especially antibiotic ointment and bandages. Even a small cut can become septic. Prescriptions filled. After water, food and meds gasoline is your most precious commodity. Stockpile all you can. Park vehicles where trees can’t fall on them. If a tree can fall on a garage move them out. Generators and chainsaws. If you don’t have them get them. If you have them start and service them. Got spare blades for that saw? BTW, a large bow saw is a good back up. Don’t think just because the lights come on and Wal Mart is open it’s over. 2+ weeks after Michael a running gunfight broke out about 100′ from my house around 2300 hrs. I had worked with most of the guys involved. One dead bad guy. Two in custody. Finally, if you’re close to ground zero, and especially if you are close to water, get the fuck out of Dodge.

    P.S. Darkman, for some of taking every firearm is logistically not possible. Just have to secure and hope for the best.

  9. One of the best ways to protect firearms? Wipe them with “Brake Free Collectors Oil”, then use a food grade vacuum sealer. The sealing material can be purchased in rolls, to make packages of ANY length.
    Guns can be stored for decades in this manner, and come out of the shrink bags READY to shoot!


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