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.
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)
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.
- 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.
- Ready.gov – this site has a step by step online tool that helps walk you through the preparation needed.
- National Hurricane Center
- Get a Game Plan- this site (from LA) has phone apps, videos, and other planning information.