As a Floridian, how tired are you of hearing the words “hunker down”? I mean, for real. Over the past couple months literally all I have been watching are every news channel in the area and The Weather Channel. Flipping back and forth just trying to make sure myself, my family and my home are safe. What a nerve wracking experience that I am honestly glad is over. This was the first hurricane that I weathered out the storm with – no pun intended there..
Growing up in Florida, I have survived many hurricanes, but this is the first that I survived as an adult in my own house without my parents. Scary. I never realized how much my parents did in preparation, during and after the storm to make sure my brother and I were safe. Now it was my job to make sure my animals and myself were safe. It’s a ton of work!
One night while on the phone with my mom talking about filling up bath tubs, making sure we had bottles water and PLENTY of wine on hand, we both thought it would be a good idea for me to write all of my ‘life hacks’, thoughts and things I did to prepare and survive the hurricane to be able to share. Because, hurricanes are inevitable, so you might as well be prepared, right? Hurricane season is upon us. Being prepared and knowing what to do in the event of a hurricane, as with any type of storm, is the key to staying alive.
The damage left behind after a hurricane can be devastating and very costly. The most important thing to remember with any type of storm: you and your family’s safety is the number one priority! Material possessions can be replaced — a human life cannot.
September is National Preparedness Month. Does your family have a plan should disaster strike? FEMA reports that thousands of people are affected by disasters each year. Right here in my town of Orlando, FL we just experienced one of the worst and deadliest storms in US history – Hurricane Irma. It was a horrible. And a real eye-opener. I can honestly say, the night that the hurricane was overtop of Orlando was one of the scariest nights of my life. It resulted in zero sleep. The sound of the wind whirling around my house was terrifying. You just never know.
I’ll admit that while we had things on hand here and there that we’d rely on should we have lost power for an extended period of time but I didn’t really have it all organized. I’ve got some great tips to share to help your family get your ducks in a row, too.
Hurricane ‘Life Hacks’:
- Freeze water in freezer bags and leave in freezer in case your power goes out, it will keep your food longer. And it can act as fresh cold water for you in case you run out.
- LOTS and LOTS of WINE
- Fill a plastic up with water, place in freezer and let freeze. Once frozen place a coin on the top of the frozen water. Whether you evacuate or not, once your power is restored, you can check the coin. If the coin is at the bottom of the cup, your freezer defrosted and you should throw all of your food out. I never would have though to do this – but what a cool idea!
- Zello App – there was a lot of controversy on this app in the news. Some said you had to have wifi, other said you didn’t. but this app acts like a walkie talkie so you can communicate with family and friends.
- Shut all of your inside doors before the storm hits
- Turn off your main water valve
- LOTS and LOTS of WINE.
- Text 888-777 your zip code and you will get text weather alerts from your area
- Hurricane candles – they burn for days with no scent
- FEMA App – a free app that you can put in your county and receive text alerts about the weather conditions
- Kiddie pool for dogs – add sod and dirt to a kiddie pool for your dogs to be able to go to the bathroom inside and not risk them going outside in the storm
- Washing machine cooler – add ice to your washing machine to keep and water cold. All of the water that melts from the ice will just drain from your washing machine. GENIUS!!!
- Fill bathtubs with water – in the event you lose power and have no water, you can use this to fill toilets
- Oven and dishwater are for the most part waterproof – so you can use them to store documents and anything that cant get wet in the vent of a flood
- LOTS and LOTS of WINE
How to Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit
This isn’t too hard really. You don’t have to guess at what to include; you just need to gather it up! Check out this list to start your emergency preparedness kit to get started.
Here are the things I made sure we have in ours:
- Nonperishable food items and a can opener.
- First aid kit
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Pet food, litter, and medications.
- Wet wipes and hand sanitizer
- Bottled water (one gallon per person for 3 days)
- Emergency Contact info (print and fill out the forms here)
- Battery operated radio
- If you have a baby you’re going to want to make sure you have diapers, formula, etc. And don’t forget any medications you may need.
- It’s also a good idea to know how to operate your garage door if you lose power. That garage door opener won’t work anymore, so practice before you need to.
Creating an Emergency Plan
This is a really important piece of the pie. Having all the supplies on hand is important but there is a possibility your family won’t all be together at home when disaster hits. So download these forms and fill them out.
Remember you may not have access to that online address book of phone numbers and if you’re like me, you won’t know a number in the world when your cell phone dies.
Our emergency plan included writing down important phone numbers: family, friends, and neighbors, plus our work information. We also decided on a meeting place in our neighborhood and one local spot that’s not quite as close to home. I think it’s a good idea to keep copies of these forms in your car and in your home.
Remember these tips:
- Make sure everyone in the family knows where your emergency plan and kit are located.
- Practice your plan!
- Have the number of your electric company so you can get updates.
- Have an out-of-town place to stay (with a friend or relative) should you need to leave your home.
- Don’t forget to have a plan for your pets or anyone with special needs.
And stay safe:
- Stay away from downed power lines.
- Don’t use a gas oven or range to heat your house.
- Unplug electronics that could be damaged when the power comes back on.
- Use flashlights instead of candles to avoid a fire hazard.
- Never run a generator inside where exhaust fumes can accumulate.
- Keep all electrical items away from standing water like a flooded basement.
Fighting Cabin Fever
The struggle is real. The few times we’ve been without power for a few hours, I was bored to tears. You don’t realize how much you rely on all things electric until it’s not available. Here are a few ideas for fighting off cabin fever:
- Coloring books
- Flashlight tag
- Pictionary on a dry erase board
- Deck of cards
- Crafts, like making a pasta necklace
- Freeze dance
- Hide and seek
- Board games
- Blanket forts
So what should you do next?
There is a ton of useful information on emergency preparedness here. Take the time to create your emergency preparedness kit and your emergency plan. You never know when you’re going to need this stuff and when the time comes, you’ll be so glad you have it.
Before the storm
- Staying up-to-date with weather alerts and warnings
- 72 hour emergency kits
- Family meetings on emergency safety
During the storm
- Evacuation – what to do if you evacuate (or if you don’t)
- Flood safety measures
- What to do in the event of a power outage
After the storm
- Returning home and what to do next
- First aid
- Things to watch for
- Assessing damage
Before the Storm
Unlike a tornado, a hurricane can be tracked for days or even weeks before it hits, giving you time to prepare your home, your family and yourself for the storm. Here are a few things you can do to get ready before a hurricane
- Know where to tune in for weather updates when a hurricane watch or hurricane warning has been posted. Watch the weather reports on your television or check the weather reports online atWeather.com. Having a weather radio is a great backup resource in the event of a power outage. Make sure to have plenty of batteries.
- Always have your cell phone charged completely.If you know bad weather is headed your way, charge your phone and try to keep it charged at a 100%. In the event of an evacuation, make sure to have a waterproof way to carry your cell phone.
- Have a 72-hour emergency kit packed and ready to grab on your way out to safety.Every member of the family should have one. Check outthis great article on how you can assemble the perfect 72 hour kit.
- Have a family meetingto discuss what you and your family will do in the case of an evacuation. It is important to include EVERY family member, even the little ones.
During the Storm
You may think that once a storm hits there’s nothing you can do, but that’s just not true. Here are a few actions you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the midst of a hurricane.
- If you are advised to evacuate, don’t wait!The longer you wait the more hectic traffic becomes. Being stuck in traffic can propose a whole new emergency situation.
- Avoid flooded roads.Six inches of water is all it takes to float a car. Keep an eye out for flood compromised or washed out bridges.
- Make sure someone outside the storm area knows where you will be and how to reach you.
- If you do not evacuate,stay indoors and off the roads. Stay away from windows and doors.
- If power is lost,unplug all electrical appliances to prevent damage from power surge when service resumes.
- Keep emergency supplies (your 72-hour kit) ready to go.
- Listen to local radiofor changes in the weather situation and instructions.
- If flooding occurs,move your valuable property to higher locations in your home, if time permits. Move yourself and your pets to higher ground or shelter.
- Be sure to lock your homeand take emergency supplies, clothing, and bedding with you.
After the Storm
After the hurricane comes time to assess the damage, provide aid to the injured and figure out how to proceed in the aftermath of the storm. With any luck, your preps before and during the hurricane will help to mitigate the damage. Here’s what you should do after a hurricane.
- Continue to monitor local radio for information.
- Return home only after authorities have announced it is safe to do so.When you reenter your home, do so cautiously. Check for displaced wildlife such as snakes. If necessary, open doors and windows to ventilate and help dry your home.
- Give first aid where necessary. Do not move a seriously injured person unless they are in imminent danger. Call for emergency help.
- Watch for and avoid downed power lines.
- Avoid using the phone except in emergency.This will keep the phones free for authorities and those in more dire straits.
- Check for damaged electrical wiring.Look for sparks or frayed wires. Hot or melting wiring insulation cause an acrid smell. If you notice any damage, cut off the power at the fuse or circuit breaker box, butdo not touch the box if you have to stand in water. In the latter case you should check with an electrician.
- Avoid using candles, kerosene lamps, or other open flame sources for heat or light.Candles cause more fires after a disaster than any other source. If you must use a candle or open flame lamp, take extreme care to keep pets, children, and combustibles away from the flame.
- If you smell or hear the hiss of leaking gas, leave the house.If you can, turn off the gas line at the cut off valve outside your home. Call the utility company from your cell or from another location.
- Inspect your water lines and other plumbing.If you think there has been any damage, avoid using toilets and do not drink the tap water.
- Check your freezer and refrigerator for spoiled food.
- Don’t burn charcoal in an enclosed area.Doing so can cause buildup of deadly carbon monoxide.
- Take photos of any damaged items.Place damaged items outside if they cannot be salvaged but try to avoid discarding them until they have been looked at by an insurance adjuster.
I hope this post is helpful! You can thank IRMA for this post. #hurricaneirma #irmagerd #irmageddon
Do you live in a hurricane-prone area? What do you do to prepare? Let me know in the comments!
Love & Sparkle,