Eye of the Storm: How to Prepare for a Hurricane
It’s that time of year again. Hurricane season is upon us and, whether you blame crumbling infrastructure or global warming, it seems as though hurricanes are continuously more destructive and deadlier. We can’t prevent hurricanes from uprooting our lives or the lives of our friends and family. However, we can arm ourselves with knowledge and prepare for the worst.
Today, we take a look at a number of things that you can do to plan ahead, protect yourself and minimize the damage to your property.
Remember, none of these things can guarantee your safety or the safety of the ones that you love. If the local authorities tell you to evacuate, heed their warning. No amount of property damage is worth risking your life.
So, with that, let’s get to it. Here are a few important things that you can do to prepare for an impending hurricane.
Make a Family Plan
One of the most important things that you and your family can do ahead of a potential hurricane is to make a family plan. Everyone needs to know what is expected of them. This is crucial.
Your family plan should include a list of local disaster shelters, possible evacuation routes, and an updated list of emergency supplies (and where to find them). Keeping a list of important emergency phone numbers, as well as designating your home’s ‘safe room’ should you be required to stay put, can go a long way in preventing serious injury in times of crisis.
Make a plan and make sure to walk your kids through that plan to ensure everyone’s safety.
Stock up on Supplies
If you go to the store to purchase non-perishables and medical supplies four-days ahead of a potential hurricane, you’re going to have a bad time.
The best way to ensure the safety of you and your family is to stock up ahead of time. Bottled water, batteries, band-aids, Tylenol… these items can really pay off in times of crisis. They’re also typically the first things your local grocery store will run out of during hurricane season. Don’t get left out in the cold. Stock-up now.
Prepare Your Fridge and Freezer
Quite often, the electricity is the first thing to go out when a hurricane touches down. The next thing to go is all those expensive groceries in your fridge and freezer. Fret not, you have options.
Filling your fridge and freezer with bottled water can help keep the rest of the food inside cold and safe to eat. You can also place all of your pre-created ice into plastic bags and distribute them evenly. Remember, the fuller your freezer is, the longer it will keep cool. I know it may sound counter-intuitive, but ahead of a potential hurricane, you want to fill that fridge!
Build an Emergency Kit
Every house should have an emergency kit, full stop.
Your emergency kit should be stocked, and regularly re-supplied. It should include a first aid kit, batteries, a water container, a fire extinguisher, and a few other things. There are a ton of disaster-kit guides online. Do your research, be pro-active, and ensure that your emergency kit is always ready to be used. It may seem trivial now, but a hurricane is much easier to deal with when you have a working flashlight and a first aid kit at the ready.
If you or one of your family members requires prescription medication, take-action to get them re-filled as soon as you hear the word hurricane on the news.
Prescription medications are hard to come by in times of crisis, and sometimes, even harder to live without. Hurricanes can take a major toll on the health care system, so you’ll want to do everything that you can ahead of time, to prevent a trip to the ER.
Nobody wants to wake up to news of a potential hurricane. Having said that, those with flood insurance sure do sleep easier.
If you live in an area with a hurricane season, protecting your valuables with flood insurance can be critical. So, before you start buying batteries and boarding up windows, take a look at your home insurance plan to get a better understanding of what is (and what isn’t) covered.
You may not be able to afford flood insurance (it can be a bit pricey), but it could be worth it. If only for the peace of mind.
Glass has no problem keeping normal levels of rainfall from damaging your property, but when a hurricane comes knocking, all bets are off.
Securing your windows ahead of a hurricane landfall is a must. If you don’t own hurricane shutters, you’ll want to pick up some plywood boards and use them to re-enforce the doors and windows around your home. The plywood won’t just protect the glass from shattering, but it will also prevent the rainfall from getting into your home and damaging the contents.
Clear Yard of Debris
It’s common to see your neighbors doing a little last-minute landscaping ahead of a hurricane’s landfall. No, their in-laws aren’t coming over for the weekend. They’re prepping their property for the coming storm!
If you’re fortunate enough to have a sizable property, you’ll want to do a few things before the hurricane hits. First, you’ll want to secure anything that could potentially get carried away in the wind. Patio furniture, lawn gnomes, planters, etc.
Then its time to bust out the chainsaw. You’ll also want to cut down trees and trim the branches that are closest to your home. By clearing the brush and dangerous trees, you’re protecting your home and your vehicle from being crushed should they fall over.
Prepare Your Car
It seems as though hurricanes are getting stronger and stronger as the years go by. As such, there has been an increase in mandatory evacuation notices in and around the affected areas. And, in order to evacuate safely, you’ll need to make sure that your vehicle is in working order.
Fill your vehicle up with gas. While you’re at it, fill a jerry can too. If you can afford it, you’ll want to take your vehicle in for a tune-up, replace your wipers or take care of any lingering automotive issues that you’ve been putting off. There’s nothing worse than getting stranded in your car in the middle of a hurricane.
Secure/Back-Up Important Documents
An often-overlooked step, but still an immensely important one. Hurricanes cause flooding. And flooding can do some serious damage to important, unsecured documents.
Passports, birth certificates, insurance documents, tax information… collect it, store it somewhere safe, and take solace in the fact that, even if your home takes on some serious damage, at least you won’t have to spend the coming weeks and months wading through the murky, bureaucratic waters of paperwork and long lines at the DMV.
Save Some Money
The experts agree that all of us should set aside a little something extra for a rainy day. And, it doesn’t get much rainier than a hurricane.
Saving some cash (and keeping it around the house) can bring you some much needed piece of mind. But, more than that, it can also bail you out of a seriously sticky situation. Use the extra cash to re-stock supplies or dip into the emergency fund to help repair hurricane damage. Either way, holding on to a little extra emergency cash is always a good idea.
Purchase a Generator
I get it, generators can be expensive. And no, I don’t expect you to go out and spend thousands on a generator if you can’t afford it. It’s important to note though, that owning a generator could come in handy in times of crises.
For instance, if a member of your household requires electricity for health reasons. Generators are also incredibly handy for keeping radios on, cell phones charged, fridges cool and more.
Provided that you or your family can survive without electricity for a few days, the generator should be the last thing on your list. They sure can come in handy though.