Practical Hurricane Preparation Tips

Living in South Florida, I have grown accustomed to the ongoing threat of hurricanes–especially in the last few years. Since 2004, I have braved the winds of Frances, Jeanne, and Wilma. Although these three storms were not Category 5’s, they were still dangerous forces, and their aftermath wreaked serious havoc on the lives of many South Floridians.

When preparing for hurricanes, most people know the basics–board up the windows, stock up on batteries, and hoard the bottled water and canned food. But when it comes down to it, there are other items that can make life substantially easier after the storm when you are confronted with the possibility of weeks with no electricity.

Here is a list I that I have compiled:

1) Paper plates and plastic utensils–since our water came from a well, when the electricity went out, the water went with it. We had no way to wash the dishes after we had eaten on them, and the result was quite a mess. Also, stock up on paper towels or napkins.

2) Plenty of Reading Materials–Have you ever tried to live without TV for a day? Try two weeks. It’s no surprise that you might find yourself incredibly bored just listening to a radio, so why not use the time to read a book or do a crossword?

3) Fresh fruits and vegetables–most people stock up on canned foods and snacks like potato chips, but those things get old quick, and you will find yourself craving something healthy. Fruits and vegetables (such as oranges, apples, tomatoes, and avocados) don’t need to be refrigerated and they are a nice alternative to cold cream of mushroom soup.

4) Water–In addition to bottled water, fill up any empty water jugs, 2 liter soda bottles, juice containers, etc, with tap water the day before the storm hits. The extra water will come in handy for brushing your teeth, washing your hands, or washing dishes.

5) Buy something you can cook on–Whether it’s a gas grill, a charcoal grill, or some type of sterno set, the ability to produce heat for cooking is an invaluable asset during a power outage. Not only will you able to prepare some of the food in your freezer or fridge before it goes bad, you can also make instant coffee, and even pasta.

6) Clean your house–If you aren’t evacuating and are prepared to ride out the hurricane at home, do some house work that requires electricity before the storm hits. Vacuuming and laundry are my favorites. After a week without power, the laundry does start to pile up and the floors and carpet can get pretty dirty. If you do some cleaning prior to the hurricane, you will face less of a mess in the aftermath.

7) Cell phone car charger–Even if your phone is charged to the hilt, it obviously won’t last a week without power. It is invaluable to have a car charger so that you can just run out to the car and plug it in whenever it gets low. I saw many people after the last hurricane who were sitting in front of businesses with their chargers plugged into outlets on the side of buildings.

8) Flashlights–This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure that you know where your flashlights are. If you are using one and it goes out while you are trying to make your way to the bathroom, know where the others are positioned so you can avoid an accident. I can’t convey just how dark it is when there are no lights on in your house, or anywhere else on your street.

9) Buy a generator–f you have the means, get a generator. I can’t tell you how much you will envy those people who have one, especially when you’re sitting in the dark and you can see your neighbors comfortably watching TV across the street.

10) Pets–Do not ever leave your pets if a hurricane is coming and you have to evacuate. Some shelters accept pets, but you must plan ahead. If you aren’t evacuating, make sure that you have enough food and water for your pets, and remember that they are stressed too. Give them lots of love and try to keep them cool and comfortable.

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