Preparing for a Hurricane: What to Know and What to Do

In August 2004 I swore to myself that if I ever had to live through a Hurricane again I was going to make sure I had some of the most basic supplies. What followed made me realize I need much more then just basic supplies.

Hurricane Charley made land fall in the Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte area in the early morning hours of August 13th, 2004. People had been warned about the Hurricane, but I think the people caught off guard when it touched down were more then likely under the same impression everyone was for the last 11 years; It can’t happen to us again. My husband and I even had a running joke going about the Hurricane ruining his birthday on August 15th. But little did we know Deltona, and Central Florida in general, were in the direct path of this fierce killer.

I think it finally hit a lot of people, including us, when the meterologists on TV were practically begging people to take shelter immediately. So we did. And as quickly as the Hurricane had started, it was over and we were left alone in the dark.

The house became immediately hot after an hour or so of no power. And we did not see power again for 9 days. We have an enclosed porch in our house which we converted into a family room, this room became the scene of our bedroom for the next 9 days because it became the only cool place in the house. We had enclosed out porch earlier in the year and decided at that time to install a window air conditioner unit.

If you are in Florida during the summer and suddenly find yourself on the tail end of a Hurricane’s fury and aftermath remember to move to an area that is going to be the coolest in the house. Florida is hot in the summer to begin with and after a storm it will be even worse when the moisture is sucked out of the air. A small area could easily be cooled down with a battery operated fan, or you could have easy access to a generator line via a window to power a plug in fan.

Depending on where you are a generator could be very helpful to you. FEMA will sometimes offer rebates or even full refunds if you are forced to pay for a generator. This is something you should check on first before you shell out the $800 – $1500 for one of the good ones. A small one that powers a lamp, and maybe a fan, could be purchased for $250. Please remember that if you do purchase a generator do NOT bring it into your house what so ever. It runs on gas, and that gas will cause carbon monoxide to build up in your house and kill you. People please, you wouldn’t hook a hose up to the exhaust of your car and inhale it on purpose, now would you? That’s pretty much what you are doing when you bring a generator into your home.

You should also expect to loose your power after a Hurricane has come through your area and as such you should be ready to handle the problem of perishables in your refrigerator. We had a ton of hamburgers, steaks and chicken in the freezer after Charley came through and immediately I remembered something I saw on TV. I dumped all the ice out of the freezer into a cooler and put all the meats into the cooler. This ended up giving us a 4 day window of cooking opportunity. We ended up feeding our neighbors for those 4 days which helped in the cost of eating out. You should have seen the lines at restaurants that were slowly getting their power back again.

Stores will be wiped out of food either by people buying out the place or food being spoiled when the power goes out. Also expect for those restaurants that are slowly coming back online to have limited supplies of food available. Like I said food spoils if it is not refrigerated or on ice after 36 hours.

Power lines may also be down after a storm comes through your area. Keep yourself and your kids away from those lines because they may still be active. On that note, stay as far away from puddles or anywhere water has collected with a downed wire in it. That will electrocute you quickly and I have heard about it happening. If you see any downed power lines report them immediately.

If you come to Florida you may notice tall, ugly looking trees that seem to sway in the breeze like they are dead. These are Sand Pine trees and they can become a huge problem if a Hurricane comes through. These trees snap in half easily during a lite wind storm, so throwing 100 mph winds at them will snap them in half like a match. Be prepared for these and other trees to litter the ground all over neighborhoods after a storm is over. If a tree hits your house, leave as soon as it is safe to move from the house. Also, be careful if you go driving after a storm because trees can still fall long after the storm is over and hit you or your car.

Being prepared for a Hurricane will make it easier for you should you ever be posed with this awesome force of nature. Hurricanes can be an amazing site to see, but in reality they are deadly and should always air on the side of caution.

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