My Way of Getting Ready for a Hurricane

The emergency services and government agencies all have their lists of what we ought to have on hand if we are staying at home during a hurricane. If you live in an area where that info is needed, I’m sure you’ve seen it. First aid supplies, canned food, batteries, water, etc. I live far enough inland that I don’t have to worry about high water and I will not leave on account of wind, so I will stay. (Evacuated once and even though we had a great hostess and great place to stay, I found out I didn’t like not being able to come back home when I wanted to as law enforcement was turning people away, so I’ll not leave again.)

I have my way of dealing with those lists, like making sure I have enough toilet paper (sounds funny, but that’s not something you want to run out of if the stores are closed!) to last for three weeks. I start stocking up on canned and dried food, toiletries and cat food in spring and early summer. I check the expiration dates on over the counter medicines and replenish those supplies as well. By the time a storm is in the Gulf I usually don’t need to go to the store except to get things like bread, fresh fruit and veggies.

Before I got a smaller refrigerator we would eat out of the freezer during the summer and fill the extra space with bottles of water. I save plastic milk bottles throughout the year for this so we can freeze some early and fill the rest with water. That way I don’t have to go buy a ton of water at the store at the last minute, and if we need it because the water from the tap is foul, we’ve got it.  The ice you have frozen in your freezer can be used to keep food cold, and may keep you from having to wait through lines for ice in bags after the storm.

I have a notebook called a Control Journal. If you are familiar with FlyLady, you know what that is. If not, you can check it out here. In my Emergency Numbers section, I have info on how to shelter in place for a chemical emergency (lots of trains carrying all sorts of stuff here and refineries, too). I also have a page I created that I call “Before a Hurricane.” It’s a countdown for the five days before the storm. I had this when Ike came along and it helped me stay on track with what I needed to do. Here is my countdown:

5 Days Before

  • check for gaps in storm stock-food, toiletries, etc.  Aim for a 3 week supply of everything-remember pets
  • pay bills as far ahead as possible
  • clean house
  • start filling space in freezer with water in bottles and in Ziploc bags

4 Days Before

  • continue filling space in freezer
  • clean house

3 Days Before

  • get all available cash out of credit union
  • go to stores-grocery & hardware-for any needed items
  • clean house

2 Days Before

  • make sure saw batteries are charged
  • check on family, friends, neighbors
  • help folks get storm-ready if needed
  • clean house
  • clean out the refrigerator
  • gas up the vehicle (even if you stay in town you may not be able to buy gas due to no electricity)

1 Day Before

  • have cat carrier handy, just in case I need to put the cat in it for any reason
  • put storm stock in place if it’s not all in the kitchen
  • put paper plates, cups and plastic utensils in cabinets and drawers (I’d rather be reaching into the usual places for things I need.)
  • pick up yard-potted plants, decorations, etc. and put everything in shed
  • take down TV antennae
  • put wood over windows and put the ax in a handy spot (During a hurricane I think the worst thing that could happen is the house catches on fire, as they sometimes do. If it does and the fire extinguisher can’t handle it, I want out. The windows will be boarded up and doors may not be accessible, so I want the ax close by.)
  • wash clothes
  • fill empty milk jugs with water
  • get tents out of the attic
  • put refrigerator thermostat on the lowest setting
  • get ice chests ready

I’m sure you noticed there’s a lot of housecleaning there. Besides it being good cheap therapy, if I am without air conditioning for several days, I just would rather sweat in a really clean house. Plus, after a storm everything outside is a MESS. It is really nice to have a neat clean house to retreat to after working outside to clean up.  A lot of things are saved for the day before because by then where the storm is going is more certain. Of course, we have put boards over windows and had the storm turn, but we’re less likely to go to all that trouble for nothing if we wait till the day before.

Use good judgment on whether to stay or leave. Water comes in before wind. Keep that in mind, so you aren’t trapped. If you are new to this experience, I hope this list is helpful for you.