Emergency Planning for Hurricanes & Hurricane Season – Check List

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Hurricane season is six months long from June 1st to November 30th but the most active months are by far September and October. These months hold records for the greatest number of and most damaging hurricanes. I have many family and friends who now live in hurricane regions but have never been through a hurricane. They weren’t aware of the preparation that is required. I also know that many young couples who have always depended on their parents to take care of these things might appreciate a quick “how to” on the matter.

We have almost completed our “to do” list of hurricane preparations so I will share with you what we do. If you live in the deep south or on the east coast and have experienced a hurricane, tornado, or flooding then you can recognize the importance of being prepared for these monstrous storms. Hurricanes are devastating. The only way to minimize the damage done is to be prepared.

Gather Supplies

Gathering emergency supplies should be done well in advance — before a hurricane is ever predicted to reach your neck of the woods. If you wait until the storm becomes a hurricane and forecasters announce that they believe it will make landfall in your area then you are too late. This is a photo I took while going to the grocery store for milk. We already had all of our supplies and it is a good thing because this is what the shelves looked like:

The food aisles were even worse than that. I kid you not. I just couldn’t get a photo of it because there were too many people in the way. Get your supplies ahead of time. You will be thankful that you did. We always prepare for a 5 day stint of no electricity and access to supplies since that is the average time it takes for debris to be removed and additional food/water trucks to be able to make it through.

Must Have Supplies

  • water (rule of thumb is one gallon per person per day)
  • Five day supply of non-perishable food (temporarily get over your “I don’t eat processed food” kick. You have to eat something): canned foods, boxed crackers, cereals, and instant grits or oatmeal, bread, peanut butter and jelly, etc). MAKE SURE you have a manual can opener if you use any canned goods.
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Whistle to signal for help (each family member should wear one)
  • Basic sanitation needs: garbage bags, tissue paper, moist towelettes, wipes, etc)
  • Cell phones with car charger in case electricity stays out for an extended period of time (it usually does)
  • Pliers or wrench to turn off utilities
  • Tarps (in case the roof starts leaking or windows are shattered)
  • Candles (these should not be used during the storm but are good for when there is no electricity)

Recommended Supplies

In addition to that it is important to have the following on hand:

  • Maps of the area
  • Hurricane maps (printable version here)
  • Additional gasoline for vehicles or generator
  • Matches that are in a waterproof container or bag
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Cash or travelers checks (if electricity is out or phone lines are down some stores will not be able to accept debit/credit cards or checks)

If applicable a supply of:

  • Baby formula, diapers, food and supplies
  • Pet food and supplies
  • Prescriptions and over the counter medication
  • Feminine hygiene items

Other Considerations for supplies:

  • Mess kit (paper plates, cups, napkins, etc): You may not have enough water to wash regularly for a few days.
  • Games, coloring books, activity books, read-along books, crayons, pencils, etc for kids
  • Clothes line to dry clothes

Back Up Computer

I highly recommend backing up your computer’s hard drive. If it is damaged in any way from rain, flooding, or lightning then you could lose valuable information. There are many services online that will allow you to back up your information for a reasonable fee.

Consider a Generator

We went through two hurricanes and were miserable afterwards without the use of our generator. We also lost hundreds of dollars in food because the refrigerator and freezer had no electricity to power them. For Gustav we finally wised up and bought one. You can get a really good one for 4-5 hundred dollars and it will power air units, refrigerator, TV and other small items.

Consider an Outdoor Grill

Grilling could be your only way of cooking and heating during a storm if you do not have a generator. We use a propane grill and make sure we have two canisters of propane prior to storms. This allows us to cook food from our fridge and freezer as well as boil water if necessary.

Consider a Chainsaw

There are so many fallen trees after a hurricane, tornado, or other major storm. It really gives you an ability to help out your neighbors and possibly yourself. Just be sure to check for fallen power lines prior to dealing with any fallen trees.

Things to do once you know a storm is heading your way:

  • Fill vehicles with gasoline and park them out of the way of trees
  • Begin cooking meat from the freezer and then refreeze. This way you can easily thaw it and  heat it on the grill to eat if there is no electricity.
  • Get a supply of sandbags – during hurricanes, tornadoes and major storms, rain tends to come down in sheets, sideways. Placing sandbags near entrances to the house prevents the rain from going under the doors.
  • Begin to track the storm on your tracking chart and stay up to date by watching and listening to the latest news
  • Gather phone numbers to emergency persons: fire department, electric company, shelters, police department, etc). You may also want to gather this information from the towns of loved ones in case you need to check on them after the fact but can’t drive to them. We have had this happen.
  • Gather all important family documents and papers. Include a list of immediate family members, their addresses, and phone numbers.

TIP: Important documents (insurance documents, birth certificates, bank account information, identification, etc) should be kept in a waterproof bag and can then be stored inside of your washing machine. This is the one appliance that will keep it the safest! It is big too so it is easy to locate. In fact, write your name in large letters using permanent marker on the back of the machine. This is all just in case, of course.

Outside Preparations

  • Remove everything out of the yard and into the garage or shed. Chairs, bikes, plants, etc all have to be put away so that they cannot become projectiles during the storm.
  • Tape up windows so that if they were to shatter the glass would not fly into the home.

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Comments

  1. Hello Amy, I am praying for your family. Although I live in Louisiana also, we live in the northeast part of it. We do get affected by the winds and rain and etc and I will be implementing this myself! Thanks for the great list. Will be praying for your family’s safety.

  2. Excellent list. I hope you and your family are safe 🙂

  3. Oh Amy,
    I’ll be praying that you and your family stay safe in the storm. I think an emergency preparedness checklist is ALWAYS a good thing no matter whether you live in hurrican country…or in earthquake county of California 😉 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of CAlifornia, Heather 🙂

  4. So…is living in a hurricane area worth it? I live in an area prone to earthquakes, but they are way less damaging than hurricanes and tornadoes. Just curious!

  5. Kaye Whitney says:

    Oh, according to the experts here, taping the windows is useless and really difficult to clean off after the storm.

  6. Kaye Whitney says:

    I read your list with interest, since we live in Miami, FL. After Hurricane Andrew, we bought battery-operated fans to use when the electricity is off and more LED lanterns powered by battery. We keep those lanterns in each room of the house and also have flashlights. I even bought a headband with and LED light on it. I fill Tupperware boxes with water to take up any empty space in the freezer, and have pitchers of water in the refrigerator. If the electricity does go off, we put quilts on the refrigerator for extra insulation. After hurricane season, I use the pint blocks of ice in pitchers of iced tea. I try to keep up with the laundry, so that we always have clean clothes if the electricity goes off. We do have shutters for our house, plus hurricane-resistant glass.
    You have an excellent list. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Thanks Amy! Blessings to you and your family!

  8. We are due to be hit this weekend. Something not the norm for our area. Printing this now and headed to the stores this afternoon. 🙂

  9. Amy,
    I read this post last week and I thought that it was very informative. It is kind of funny because when I read it , I was thinking it would be something good to keep in mind, but didn’t plan on getting any of it together til the kids whent back to school and I had time. Since I live in an area that really doesn’t get directly hit by hurricanes, (or earthquakes), I considered it not exactly high on the priority list, if ya know what I mean. But today, there was an earthquake, and by the weekend, expected to have the hurricane “Irene” hit us directly. So I thank you for this post!! I am now printing it out and getting it all together. 😉

  10. We are always sure to fill all of our vehicles with gas as soon as the mere possibility of a hurricane is reported. In the past, so many gas stations had completely run out of gas days before the storm was to make landfall.

    Another item we like to keep on hand are a few oil lamps. They provide much more light than candles… enough to light a whole room to play cards or board games on the long and quiet nights.

  11. Great info! Emergency preparedness was one of our summer projects.

  12. This is great advice, even for people who don’t live where there are hurricanes. It can apply to areas where there are tornadoes, blizzards, earthquakes, and other such weather events. Sometimes you also have to be prepared to evacuate if there are wildfires in your area. Thanks for sharing this, Amy.

  13. Good work, Amy. I am not in a hurricane area, but all of us could find ourselves in emergency situation. Consider using clean gallon milk jugs to fill with water and store in your chest (or upright) freezer. Since a full freezer is more efficient anytime, this will help year round; it will prevent your frozen food from thawing in the event of a power outage for a while longer, and provide extra water storage – not to mention you have block ice on hand when have to transfer your fridge contents to coolers or just to go on a picnic in great weather!

    • amybayliss says:

      That is another great idea, Candy! I’m glad you mentioned that. We actually do have some but I didn’t even think of those when I was writing the article. They are great for short term power outages. 🙂

    • Good tip….I used to do that when I lived in VA. Now in FL I think I better resume that practice.

  14. MrsD/Jacque says:

    Thanks for this. We just talked to Aunt Barbara, who is also in Baton Rouge area… Walker, actually, and she said the weather is fine, but that their WM closed at 10am this morning. Now we know why.

    I am praying you and all yours are safe. May God protect you all.

    blessings,
    Jacque

    http://jacquedixon.com

  15. Amy, I’m praying or your family. I’m from FL originally. Grew up with regular hurricanes.

    Let us know how you are as soon as you can.

  16. We’re praying for you over here in Alabama!

  17. Praying for you Amy!

  18. Praying you and your family stay safe.

  19. Hey Amy, I didn’t know you lived in the path of the hurricane.

    I’m glad I came her to see that you did! I will absolutely add you and your precious family to my prayers!

    Bless you!
    Sunny

  20. Praying for all of you. May God overwhelm you with peace and surround you with His divine protection.

Trackbacks

  1. […] some people were a little late preparing. Several bloggers have prepared lists and suggestions for families facing a hurricane that you may find helpful. One thing that I have […]

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