We asked someone who lives in Florida and has been through at least a dozen hurricanes about Hurricane Preparedness and this was his advice.
1. You need about a gallon of water per person per day. Figure you’re on your own for at least three days before the Salvation Army, FEMA, Red Cross and/or National Guard gets there. So fill up what ever containers you have or can buy. Don’t forget your critters.
2. Do you have a manual can opener? You’ll need one.
3. Medications should be refilled.
4. If you need meds refrigerated, call/visit the closest fire department. Explain the issue. They may know of a service within your town that offers ice for medical reasons after the storm arrives.
5. If you have a spare tub, fill that with water to flush the toilet. Though if the water levels get too high, the septic systems may not work. If the water gets really high, the sewer systems won’t work. If the power is out long enough, the lift stations for the sewers won’t work.
6. Cash is king when there’s no power. Debit and credit cards don’t work without power.
7. Even if cell phones are mainly down or the circuits are busy, text messages can get through.
8. Contact family/friends out of the storm area before it arrives so that you have one spot to call if your family becomes separated.
9. If you are on a wooded lot, check your chain saw. Do you have bar oil? What about treated gas? Gas that’s been sitting, particularly with the ethanol makes for crappy two-stroke fuel. Check that what you have is OK and works.
10. Fill up your fuel tanks and extra gas tanks before the storm arrives. Again, without power, the gas pumps don’t work.
11. Do you have a car charger for your phone? Now would be a good time to make sure it works.
12. Use up your refrigerated food first. Cook the meat and eat the dairy within the first couple of days on the grill. There is no saving it without power.
13. Do you have enough propane and/or charcoal to fuel the barbeque?
14. When cooking with the grill, use it away from the house. Make sure a flare-up can’t catch the soffitt on fire. Don’t grill in the garage.
15. Rake the yard before the storm arrives. With the amount of rain expected, you need the drains open and running freely. A drain clogged with leaves does not flow and all the water may end up in your basement.
16. Batteries for everything. You need batteries for flashlights and everyone in the family should have their own flashlight.
17. Buy a tarp or two. I get the medium and about a 10 mil just to protect the roof if I’ve got a tree down. If you don’t need them, you can always return them.
18. Canned food is fine like packaged tuna, canned spaghetti, peanut butter and crackers, peanut butter and jelly.
19. Make certain you have one long (50 foot) heavy duty extension cord. I was without power for 20+ days after Hurricane Charlie in 2004, but my neighbors on a different circuit, were without power for 40+ days. We ran their refrigerator and fans on an extension cord for the 20+ days. I had power and they didn’t.
20. After the storm is over, don’t go sloshing through the puddles. Power lines will be down all over the place and that water may be hiding that live wire.
21. If there is someone in the house with medical issues that must have power, call the local Red Cross. There will be a medical shelter that will have back up power. Make sure you have a spot there.
22. Collect the phone numbers of the power, phone and cable companies. If there is an issue like a downed wire, or junction box destroyed by a fallen tree, they want to know.
23. If you’re being told to evacuate, get out.
24. If you have pets, make sure they have name tags on. If the pet gets lost, you want someone to call. Make sure it’s a phone number you can answer. If you only have a landline, now would be a good time to get a google voice number. If the worst happens and your house isn’t there any more, how will someone reach you?
25. If you have pets, call the vet for proof of rabies and shots. If you need to evacuate, your pet may not be welcome at a shelter without these records.
26. Find your paperwork for all your insurance policies. Home, renters, car, business. If your house is damaged, the paperwork may not be available or may have been destroyed.
27. If you are even sort of near a storm and you’re near a body of water or the coast, do you know at least two ways to leave your neighborhood? Plan it out. Write it down. If things get hairy, your mind may not be working all that clearly and you will forget things you thought you’d never forget.
28. If you need to evacuate, where are you going to go? Does everyone in your family know? Even the ones not in the area?
29. Every person in the family should have the phone numbers and addresses of family written down. Everything is in our phones, but when that battery dies, you can’t access those phone numbers.
30. If you get a generator, make sure to use it outside in a well ventilated area and don’t change the fuel while it’s hot/running. Every time we get a storm, there’s always ambulances going out nonstop for carbon monoxide poisoning.
31. Make sure to have plenty of candles available. Buy them before they are sold out. Tea candles work as a cheap but short use solution. Find the large candles for long term use. Making sure you have enough lighters and matches for those candles.
32. If you plan to use any kind of heater make sure it is for indoor use. During the major storm two people died of Co2 poisoning in my town. Their fire alarm/gas detectors were literally laying on the bed next to the bodies with the batteries taken out.
33. Place any patio, lawn furniture or possible debris like recycling bins in your garage or home. They can become missiles fast.
34. Condoms. A lot of nurses tell me that they see a spike in birth after major storms because of outages and booze.
35. Stack up on a few good books because you may be extremely bored.