A Floridian’s Guide to Hurricane Preparedness
Hurricane season has commenced! I have lived in South Florida my whole life and know the importance of hurricane preparedness. We prepared for Hurricane Andrew which hit the Miami/Homestead area back in 1992. In total, it destroyed more than 63,500 houses, damaged more than 124,000 others, caused $26.5 billion in damages and 65 people lost their lives.
We were so thankful that it didn’t hit closer to home, and also thankful for the way it helped to prepare us for the future and recognize the magnitude of these storms.
In 2004, we had Charley, Ivan, Frances, and Jeanne. In 2005 we had Wilma, Katrina, and Rita and although we were more prepared then, we never anticipated 21 days without electricity.
There are quite a few things I have learned over the years while experiencing so many storms. Hurricanes are an emotional roller coaster. At first, you are annoyed that you have to start preparations. There’s frustration that they can’t with 100% certainty predict the storm. The stress over the situation and the amount of time and money that it takes to prepare can be overwhelming, not to mention driving around looking for gas, water and supplies. There is worry over your homes, belongings, and family. There’s anxiety watching the storm on the television, wondering just how bad the impact is going to be. Then there can be heart-break and devastation in the aftermath, and in the best situations, relief.
I know! I have been there too many times!
With Hurricane Irma fast approaching, I put together this post to help those who have never been through a hurricane before, if it’s been a while, or those who found themselves unprepared during their last hurricane. I hope you find it helpful to your planning!
Stock up on necessities!
Bottled water, Gatorade, trash bags, paper plates, disposable utensils, toilet paper, etc. These are things that you can ALWAYS use, so even if the storm shifts and you don’t experience the hurricane, they won’t go bad!
Fill up the gas tanks in your cars early and buy extra gas cans as back up as well. Go very early in the morning or very late at night to avoid long lines.
Buy a generator
We just bought this generator on Amazon. It will run both of our refrigerators in case we lose power and we won’t lose the food inside. It isn’t strong enough to run the air conditioning unit. You will need a much larger and more expensive one to do that.
If you are wanting to use it to plug in your water heater, be sure that the generator you buy has the correct plug. If it doesn’t, there are adapters you can buy.
Also, be sure to have extra gas for the generator as well.
Prepare for dark, damp, hot, and buggy.
Get extra flashlights, batteries, and bug repellent. We just ordered these lanterns and these small rechargeable battery fans. They come with an extra rechargeable battery as well and really move air for their size. They will be here in two days!
Amazon is great for hurricane supplies. You don’t have to fight the crowds and run to a million stores only to find out that they are sold out.
(Update: The lanterns are great! They put off a lot of light and you can open them to adjust how much light they are putting off. The fans are my favorite! They move a lot of air and I will use them on our strollers for Disney trips or outdoor activities!)
Get extra charcoal, lighter fluid, and lighters. Without electricity, you will not be able to cook food inside.
Remember not to use your grill indoors or in the garage!!
This may seem like common sense to most, but there is almost always an incident during every hurricane where someone tries to grill in an unventilated area.
A good cooler
Invest in a good cooler that will keep ice cold for a few days. This YETI cooler will keep things cold, keeping your perishables safe and your ice long-lasting.
And anyone who has been through a hurricane before knows that ice can be hard to come by in the aftermath.
This goes beyond buying bottles of water.
Look in your recycle bin for old water bottles and big resealable juice bottles. Fill them 3/4 of the way and freeze them ahead of time. They will act as ice packs to keep food cold and become drinking water when melted.
Also, during hurricane season, keep a few large packs of water on hand at all times. This way you won’t have to worry too much about getting it prior to a storm when the shelves are empty.
Stock up on baby items
Baby food, diapers, and wipes are another thing that will be used and they won’t go bad!
Solar or Battery Powered Radio
I love this one because it serves as a flash light as well. It can also charge your phone!
When your satellite TV stops working or you lose power, a radio is crucial to knowing what is going on with the storm!
Charge your devices!
Make sure your phones are charged up! These external batteries are great for a hurricane and also for when you are out and about and don’t have access to an outlet to charge. This is definitely an item that isn’t just for hurricane prep!
Buy extra pet food to make sure you have enough before you can get back to the store. Leashes, collars, and pet ID tags will help keep your pets safe.
Don’t forget the kitty litter for the inside kitties!
Refill all medications that can be refilled ahead of time. When there is a storm coming, you are able to fill your prescriptions early even if you are not due for a refill.
If someone is on oxygen, get extra tanks, or make sure that they are in a location with a generator so they will not lose power.
Also, grab distilled water to fill CPAP machines.
A First Aid kit is a good idea as well.
While there is no way to waterproof your home and belongings completely, you can keep your important documents dry. Social security cards, marriage licenses, credit cards, IDs, and CASH!!!
I can not stress cash enough. If ATMs are without power, there is no way to get cash out of the machine. Also, often grocery stores and gas stations may only be able to accept cash.
If you have a vacuum sealer, even better!
Use your dishwasher is a water proof storage! Place important documents or pictures inside to prevent them from getting wet if water starts flooding your home.
Please, please, please evacuate if you are in a potential evacuation zone! Mobile homes, homes on surrounding islands, homes near the ocean, and flood zones can all become evacuation zones.
Plan ahead! Call hotels early as they book up quickly. Check and see where they are in relation to the projected storm. Ask if they accept pets and if they have hurricane impact windows if they are in an area that might be affected. Also ask about their refund policy. Some places are 72 hours, while others only require 24 hours notice in advance.
If you do plan to evacuate, plan to bring all medications and other basic essentials that you would if you were leaving for at least 7 days. Bring everything you waterproofed (see above) as well as family photos (maybe they are all on a computer) and any other important item that you would be devastated if you lost.
Pillows and blankets from home might help make you feel more comfortable. Bring baby toys, blankets, games and movies to keep the kids occupied.
BRING YOUR PETS!
Never leave your pet behind during a storm. Most hotels will allow larger dogs than they usually would as well as cats.
Pack their bowls, food, treats and toys. Also, see above for pet essentials.
Buy food that is easy to grill. You will not be able to use your stove top or microwave without electricity. Hot dogs, hamburgers, steak, potatoes, veggies.
Buy aluminum foil pans to heat food on the grill.
Also get non-perishables like canned tuna, canned chicken, peanut butter and jelly.
Don’t forget bread! The bread isle always looks like the water isle close to the hurricane! EMPTY!
Also be sure to have a manual can opener.
Everything outdoors is a projectile
Bring EVERYTHING inside. This includes your trash cans, bird feeders, porch furniture, grills, and potted plants.
Make sure you have wing nuts for your shutters or enough ply wood to cover all of your openings.
Do not wait until the last-minute.
There will be nothing left. Hurricane impact windows are great, but require months to order and install and are not a last-minute idea.
Get your laundry done before the storm if possible. This will ensure you have plenty of clean clothes to wear if you don’t have power after the storm.
Use the food that’s in your freezer! Make easy meals for dinner before the storm so that you can spend your time preparing for the storm, and not cooking.
This might be the most important thing on the list.
Ok, not really.
But it is definitely an important item on the list. No air conditioning, no electricity, bored kids, cabin fever, and stress make tensions high! A glass of wine might make coping a little easier!
Board games are a great way to pass the time. Cards Against Humanity is a hilarious game to play with adults!
It’s also a good idea to have a few new games for the kids as well to keep them busy during and after the storm when there is no power or internet!
By taking recent photos of both the inside and outside of your home prior to the storm are helpful for possible insurance claims.
Treat all intersections without power as a four way stop.
This includes signals with no lights, flashing yellow lights, and flashing red lights.
The roads are crazy after a hurricane! And by stopping at all intersections will help increase traffic flow and prevent accidents.
Be patient and kind.
You may be without power for a while, and some people will never lose power at all. Some have lost their roofs, leaving everything wet and ruined inside. Some are unable to even get back to their homes because of the devastation.
Remember that every one is going through different levels of struggles.
Bring the lineman who are working hard to restore your power water, Gatorade, or lunch/dinner. Many of them are away from their families and will be until their job is done, which could be months.
If you are left unscathed, donate your extra hurricane items, food, water, tarps, batteries, generators, etc to those who have lost their homes.
I hope you find this list of ideas for hurricane preparedness helpful! Weather forecasters have many tools to predict where the storm is heading, but the storm could shift at the very last second (we experienced this September 2016).
The most important thing to remember is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Do you have any tips or tricks to add for hurricane preparations? Drop a comment below!
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