Hurricane preparedness is an important part of living in the Southeast. In the event of a hurricane, tropical storm or other weather emergency, knowing the steps to ensure you have protected your important documents and are ready for days without power or water can make a big difference. Here are 31 tips to help you prepare.
- Charge any device that provides light. Laptops, tablets, cameras, video cameras and old phones are good examples. Old cell phones can still be used for dialing 911. Charge external battery backups.
- Wash all trash cans, big and small, and fill with water for flushing toilets. Line outdoor trash cans with trash bags, fill with water and store in the garage. Add bleach to sterilize.
- Fill every tub and sink with water. Cover sinks with Saran Wrap to keep it from collecting dust. Fill washing machine and leave the lid up to store water.
- Fill old empty water bottles and other containers with water and keep near sinks for washing hands.
- Fill every Tupperware with water and store in the freezer. These will help keep food cold longer and serve as a backup water supply.
- Fill drinking cups with water and cover with Saran Wrap. Store as many as possible in the fridge. The rest you can store on the counter and use first before any water bottles are opened. Ice is impossible to find after a storm.
- Reserve fridge space for storing tap water and keep the sealed water bottles on the counter.
- Cook any meats and other perishable foods in advance, because you can freeze cooked food. Hard boiled eggs are good snacks for the first day without power.
- Be well hydrated before the storm hits and avoid salty foods that make you dehydrated.
- Wash all dirty clothes and bed sheets. Anything dirty will smell without the A/C, you may need the items and, with no A/C, you’ll be sweating a lot. You’re going to want clean sheets.
- Toss out any expiring food, clean cat litter boxes and empty all trash cans in the house, including bathrooms. Remove anything that will cause an odor when the A/C is off. If you don’t have a trash day pickup before the storm, take it to your nearest dump.
- Bring in any yard decor, secure anything that will fly around, secure gates, bring in hoses, potted plants, etc. Bring in patio furniture and grills.
- Clean your environment so you have clear, easy escape routes. Even if that means temporarily moving furniture to one area.
- Scrub all bathrooms so you are starting with a clean, odor free environment. Store water filled trash cans next to each toilet for flushing.
- Place everything you own that is important and necessary in a backpack or small file box that is easy to grab. Include your wallet with ID, phone, hand sanitizer, snacks, etc. Store important documents in plastic sleeves.
- Make sure you have cash on hand.
- Stock up on pet food and fill up water bowls for pets.
- Refill any medications. Most insurance companies allow for 2 emergency refills per year.
- Fill your propane tanks. You can heat soup cans, boil water, make coffee and other things besides grilling meat. Get an extra tank, if possible.
- Drop your A/C in advance and lower temperatures in your fridges.
- Gather all candles, flashlights, lighters, matches, batteries and other lighting items in an accessible place.
- Clean all counters in advance. Start with a clean surface. Buy sanitizing wipes for cleaning when there is no power. Mop your floors and vacuum. If power is out for 10 days, you’ll have to live in the mess you started with.
- Pick your emergency safe place such as a closet under the stairs. Store the items you’ll need in that location for the brunt of the storm. Make a hand fan for when the power is out.
- Shower just before the storm is scheduled to hit.
- Keep baby wipes next to each toilet. Don’t flush them. It’s not the time to risk clogging your toilet.
- Run your dishwasher, don’t risk having dirty smelly dishes and you need every container for water. Remember you’ll need clean water for brushing your teeth, washing yourself and cleaning your hands.
- Put a suitcase in your car in case you decide to evacuate. Also, put at least one jug of water in your car. Remember to pack for pets as well.
- Check on all family members, set up emergency back up plans and check on elderly neighbors.
- Remember, pets are family too. Take them with you!
- Before the storm, unplug all electronics. There will be power surges during and after the storm.
- Gas up your car and have a spare gas container for your generator or your car in case you run out.
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
Protect your financial documents and have them accessible after the storm. You will need identification and financial documents to begin the recovery process. Secure important documents in a bank safe deposit box, computer storage devices like a USB drive and/or waterproof storage containers. Documents that should be secured include:
- Personal identification (driver’s licenses, birth certificates, military IDs, passports, etc.)
- Financial account information (checking, savings, retirement and investment accounts, credit/debit cards)
- Insurance policies on all personal property, including appraisals and lists and photos of valuable items
- Ownership or leasing documentation for homes and vehicles (deeds, titles, registrations, rental agreements, etc.)
- All health and medical insurance documentation
If you can, take a video of your house and contents, including items in your cabinets/drawers and closets. This will help if you need to make a claim later. It will show proof of items and help you list all the items.
To know if your freezer is still keeping your food at a safe temperature, try freezing a cup of water and place a coin on top after it is frozen. Keep the cup in your freezer to help you gauge the temperature if the power goes out. If the coin stays on top, the food is staying frozen. If the coin falls into the water, the freezer thawed out and most food will likely need to be thrown away.
Finally, if you have anything you want to try and preserve, but you can’t take with you, place it in a plastic bin, put in your dishwasher and lock the door. This should make it water tight in case of any flooding inside your home.
Taking the time to plan and make these adjustments to your home will help keep you safe and healthy in the time during and after the storm.