Hurricanes are scary and can be devastating. Being prepared for hurricane season can make all the difference. Learn How to Prepare for a Hurricane and keep your family as safe as possible. Grab the free hurricane preparedness printable too.
How to Prepare for a Hurricane or Tropical Storm
It is that time of year again, and hurricane season is upon us. Even though the U.S. mainland hasn’t seen a devastating named storm yet this year, we still have a long way to go before hurricane season is officially over. If you live in a part of the U.S. that is frequently affected by hurricanes there are some things that you need to do to prepare. In fact, when you are done reading this, be sure to grab the free hurricane preparedness printable below.
There are preparations that will need to be made both inside and outside of your home when preparing for hurricane season. If you may have to evacuate you will need to prepare your vehicles and your family as well. If you have pets you will have to make plans for them as well. Fortunately with the technology that we have today meteorologists can track a storm and tell approximately where it might come onshore several days in advance so that there is plenty of time to get your preparations in order.
Living in Florida we have seen and heard about many hurricanes, the first that hit close to home was Hurricane Charley back in 2004. I was pregnant with my son then and since we were fairly new to Florida, we weren’t sure what to expect.
Hurricane Irma, that one hit close to home. Real close to home. My husband’s work closed a few days before the storm so that we could get ready. Schools closed so that they could be used for shelters. Every grocery store and drug store was basically out of non-perishable food and water. Every home improvement store was sold out of batteries, generators and plywood. Every gas station, basically in the state, was out of gas. The highways and local road ways were just crazy, either you were driving to leave the state or you were preparing to ride it out. We opted to ride the potentially devastating storm out.
We had gas in our individual gas tanks and in all three of our vehicles in case we needed to siphon it out for the generator or leave town after the hurricane. We had the generator ready to go. We removed all the furniture outside, boarded up the downstairs windows and blocked the garage door with our vehicles. We helped the neighbors do the same. We made a safe room complete with survival backpacks for us and the kids, we all had flash lights within reach, we had all our important documents and food. We had a solar charger for our cell phones. We also had walkie talkies between us and our neighbors so we could check on each other. Then we got comfortable for the night and prayed. As we cuddled together, we started to hear it. The loud howling noise, the hurricane was coming. At about 3:30 a.m. (I will never forget the time) it felt like it was above us. And then it was gone. We walked out in the morning and noticed very minimal damage, but not everyone was as lucky as we were. The water in Tampa Bay was basically sucked out and then put back. The Keys were devastated. We were simply without power. For a week. The house climbed to 90 degrees quickly, but the generator ran the refrigerators and deep freezers so that we were able to keep our food and as much from the neighbors as we could hold. We ate together as a neighborhood, and soon we celebrated our safety! The kids had no school for the week because they were filled with people who needed shelter, so they swam and played. It was a crazy time, and I will never forget it. And being prepared made all the difference in the world. That’s why you must learn how to prepare for a hurricane.
Making preparations for a hurricane can feel overwhelming, especially if it is your first time. Your best bet is to make a list of what needs to be done so that you can check it off as you go and see what is left to be done.
Outside of your home
If a hurricane is forecast in your future, take a good look around the outside of your home. Trim any dead tree limbs or any limbs that have gotten too close to your home. Clean out your gutters if you have time, because this may help prevent some flooding on your property.
Take note of anything that may become a flying projectile once the winds pick up. Any outdoor yard tools need to be put away in a shed or garage, outdoor furniture and toys should be brought indoors as well.
Make sure that you have all of the tools and supplies that you need on hand to board up your windows, or make sandbags to prevent flooding. Keeping these supplies in your garage or shed means that you don’t have to run to the hardware store with everyone else when a storm is about to hit.
Inside of your home
Before you begin the rest of your indoor hurricane preparations, take pictures of all of the rooms in your home and save them to a jump drive or send them to the cloud. These pictures of your home, and particularly any valuables can make it much easier if you need to settle up with your insurance company down the road.
Make sure that you also have duplicate copies of all your important documents. You can easily put these on a zip drive that will attach to your keychain. You may also want to consider keeping an additional copy in a safe deposit box. Having copies of these documents can make life a lot easier if the worst happens.
These documents should include marriage and birth certificates, copies of Social Security cards, immunization records, wills, and military service records. You will also need copies of your health insurance cards and your home insurance policy. If you rent include a copy of your lease and a utility bill. If you own your home include a copy of your property tax statement. These last few items can help you to receive assistance from FEMA more quickly if you have the proof on hand.
Put away as many loose objects in your home as you can in drawers, cabinets, or closets. This lessens the potential for those objects to become dangerous projectiles later. Choose the safest room in your house and prepare it with your hurricane supplies.
Your safe room should be the most interior room in your home with no windows. This frequently ends up being a bathroom which can be kind of small. Do what you can to make this room as comfortable as possible. Make sure that you have blankets and pillows, a flashlight for every member of the family, an NOAA weather radio, and something to keep you entertained such as a deck of cards or a book.
Supplies you need for during and after a hurricane
Food and Water
Water is one of the most important things that you need to have on hand. You need at least one gallon per person per day, so for a family of four for five days, you will need 20 gallons of water on hand. You will also need extra water for washing dishes, hands, and possibly flushing toilets. Clean your tub with bleach and fill with water that can be used for bathing, cleaning, and flushing. If you have pets don’t forget that they need water too.
You need to have food for your family for at least 5 days. Here is a quick list of non-perishable foods that require no preparation that you might consider: Peanut butter, apples, oranges, canned fruit, canned vegetables, nuts, crackers, granola bars, bread, bananas, ready to eat canned soups or meats, and granola bars.
You will of course also likely have perishable foods in your refrigerator and freezer. Before a hurricane hits turn your refrigerator and freezer on their coldest setting. This will keep your food edible longer even if you lose power, just don’t open them any more often than necessary. Remember foods from your freezer are still good to cook as long as they have ice crystals in the middle of them.
There are a lot of other supplies that you need to have on hand as well, but many of them are items that you already have at home. You will want to make sure that you have cleaning products for sanitizing, trash bags, flashlights or other light sources, batteries, and a solar charger for your phone. You may want an alternative method of cooking food such as a grill, or a camping stove. Make sure you have a store of fuel for your alternative cooking method.
If you have children, or pets you may want to keep some things on hand to help keep them entertained during and after the storm. A couple of new toys they haven’t seen before, coloring books and crayons, board games and play dough can offer hours of entertainment and don’t require electricity.
I made a hurricane prepared checklist for you all too, it’s a great tool to have printed out and on the refrigerator so when hurricane season is here, you have a visual checklist that you can look at right away.
Hurricane season is just an annoying fact of life for those of us who live near the coast, and even for many of us who don’t live all that close at all. Knowing what needs to be done and what supplies you need to keep on hand can make preparing for a hurricane that much easier, and that can give you a lot of peace of mind as you prepare for the storm ahead.