Today marks the second day of hurricane season and who’s ready? Not me! I moved into the home I live in now on June 2nd, 2017; less than 3 months later I was getting ready for a hurricane by myself in a new community. I was grateful that my new home came with hurricane shutters but they are the metal kind that you have to hang up one by one from these large bolts drilled into the side of the house. Thankfully, I had purchased an expandable latter that extended to 20 feet a month or so earlier (tall stairwell with a light that needed changing) so I kind of had the tools necessary to install these things. Gloves and a drill also come in super handy.
Some wonderful neighbors that I had not yet met saw me struggling with installing the giant metal sheets and came to help. We shared tools, ladders, and helped each other install these things. Community is so important! Apartment living is nothing like this and again I was grateful for this camaraderie that I hadn’t experienced in years of living in an apartment downtown. It took two days of sweat and tears to get these things up, but with the help of my friendly neighbors, I got the job done.
We were lucky last year and didn’t have any incidents but we can’t be lucky every year so let’s review some basic hurricane preparations.
There are a lot of resources online to help you get ready for hurricane season; here are a couple of websites that I found very useful:
- National Hurricane Center has a lot of great tips and this is where I got my supplies kit lists that I share below
- FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency is another great website to have bookmarked on your phone or computer/laptop
So let’s build our Hurricane Preparedness Kits!
- Water–you need to have 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days.
- I see so many people buying bottled water at the store. I never buy bottled water as I have a great water filter at home so I use water from home and fill up every water bottle and food storage container I have. No sense in spending money on something I already have.
- Food–3 day supply of non-perishable food items.
- I also cooked some food ahead that I could easily toss in my cooler with ice (my fridge makes ice, so I didn’t buy this either). You really can’t cook more than 1 or 2 days’ worth of perishable food but if you have a lot of meat in your freezer that you’re worried about losing; it’s not a bad idea. Also, you can use your grill after the storm passes if your power is still out (I didn’t have a grill yet being a new homeowner and all). Make sure to have a manual can food opener to open all those canned goods!
- Battery powered, or hand-cranked radio
- I still don’t have one of these and heavily rely on my cell phone. Time to invest.
- First-Aid Kit–you can purchase one of these kits at almost every store but can be easily put together with items you already have.
- antiseptic cleaners/wipes
- rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide
- rubber gloves
- Whistle–to signal for help
- I haven’t thought about this one but in 2017 we had so many tornado warnings that were pretty stressful. I never really thought about what I would do, or have to do/go through, if a tornado damaged my home. This would be a great tool to have if/when rescue teams are out and about.
- Dust make, plastic sheets, and duct tape in case you have to shelter in place if your home is damaged. One of my coworkers had a tree fall on their roof so best to be prepared for something like this.
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and zip ties for personal sanitation.
- We lost power during the last storm (my community was lucky and we were without power for only 8 hours) and our city water still worked but the city asked us to limit its use until everyone’s power was back up and running. If worse comes to worse, you may need to use this for sanitation purposes. Another helpful tip is to fill your bathtub with water which will allow you to use a bucket to flush your toilet with (gravity is a wonderful thing!).
- Wrench, or pliers, to turn off utilities.
- Local maps–in case your cell phone doesn’t work. Doesn’t hurt, especially if you’re new to the area you’re living in.
- Cell phone with charger and a spare battery.
- If the power goes out for an extended period of time you can always charge your cell phone in your car just make sure you NEVER turn your car on in your garage without opening the garage door first. Carbon Monoxide will kill you! If you have an electric garage door opener, make sure you know how to manually open it before the power goes out.
- List of shelters in your area
There are additional items that you may need for your individual circumstances, so here is a comprehensive list of items you will want to consider:
- prescription medications–make sure you refill ahead of time; it could be a while before the pharmacies are back up
- over-the-counter medications you may need in your first-aid kit like pain relievers, allergy medications, etc.
- your eyeglasses, or contact lenses and cleaning solution
- baby items–formula, diapers, wipes, change of clothes, etc.
- pet food and extra water–can’t forget your fur babies!
- cash–no power means ATMs do NOT work and any stores that reopen and don’t have power cannot take credit or debit cards. I never carry cash, so this is a great reminder for me
- important documents–insurance docs, identification, and bank records kept in a water proof container
- sleeping bag, blankets, pillow, etc. This comes in handy if you are in an evacuation zone and must go to a shelter as they will not provide these items for you.
- change of clothes and sturdy shoes–again important to take with you if going to a shelter but also great to keep this in your “safe room”
- chlorine bleach and dropper for disinfecting water–another great tip is to print out instructions on how to do this before hand and keep it in your emergency kit in a water proof container or ziplock bag
- fire extinguisher (oh boy, I need one of these–not just for hurricane season!)
- matches, or lighters, in a waterproof container
- disposable dishes and cutlery
- paper and pencil
- books, games, puzzles, etc. to keep the kiddos entertained while the power is out
These are all great tips that I got directly from the websites I listed above; they have printable versions that are handy to have with you as you go shopping. Living in Florida, you always want to be prepared for a hurricane and many of these items you don’t have to purchase every hurricane season. It also never hurts to reach out to your neighbors and get to know them; you never know when you’ll need a helping hand, or when you can lend one yourself.
I want to wish everyone a wonderful summer and a safe hurricane season!