Hurricane season comes like clockwork on June 1 every year. If you live in an area at risk for these tropical storms, there are some preparations you can make well in advance of a watch or warning that will help you and your family to weather the storm.
Before the storm-ideally before hurricane season begins-you should stock up on batteries, purchase a radio, buy gasoline for generator use, and stock a hurricane meal kit with canned foods, snack foods, and bottled water. I buy a few loaves of bread and freeze them. Include a manual can opener as well. If you have a gas grill, fill your propane tanks (after a storm, you’ll get plenty of use from your grill as you finish off the meat in your freezer before it goes bad.) Be sure your first aid kit is up to date as well. If you don’t already own one, consider buying a hurricane lamp or buy candles. When the power’s out, it gets completely dark quickly. Make sure you have insect repellent.
Test your chainsaw and your generator to make they work. Put important papers, such as your insurance policy, into plastic bags or make copies to keep with you and place the originals in a safe deposit box at the bank. Make a plan for your pet, as well. Most hurricane shelters do not allow pets, so consider ahead of time what you will do.
Review your plans with your family, including plans for evacuation. Be sure to review safety plans for using candles in case of power outage; I know a family who came through the hurricane with a few missing shingles but lost the entire house two nights later when it burned to the ground. Fortunately, no lives were lost. Be sure your children know where they will eat and sleep in the event of a hurricane.
If you have hurricane shutters, know where they are and how to use them. If not, measure your windows for plywood and purchase the lumber in advance. Hardware and big-box home improvement stores will be jammed with shoppers once a hurricane threatens.
When a hurricane warning is issued, there is a possible threat of a hurricane within 24 to 36 hours. Now is the time to get money from the ATM, to fill your cars with gas, and to purchase or make ice for coolers and for your freezer. The stores will be filled with panic-stricken people who empty the shelves quickly. Your earlier preparation will pay off! If you plan to evacuate and need a hotel inland, make reservations now.
When a hurricane watch is issued, hurricane conditions are likely within 24 hours. If you plan to evacuate, do so quickly once a watch is issued. The longer you wait, the more traffic you will face on the roads. Secure your home before you go and be prepared to be patient with clogged roads and worsening weather. The goal is to be ready to evacuate before conditions deteriorate and people panic.
If you’re staying home, batten down the hatches and get ready. Your preparation will pay off in peace of mind and in self-reliance once the storm is over.
Good luck this hurricane season! Prepare in advance for tropical storms to save time, money, and worry.