What to do BEFORE a hurricane hits or Hurricane Prep 101 for Families
I usually post on Fridays, but missed my editorial due date- (it was a Best of Best for St. Augustine and you will see it later this week), because I was busy prepping for Hurricane Erica, who was due to strike Florida today. Our gov, Rick Scott had declared a state of emergency on Friday and they were passing out sand bags locally to stop flooding in the low lying areas near the river. Schools in our district were on high alert, some prepping to be shelters, others getting ready to make that call: you know the one, if you are parents or care-givers, the whip-around call system that lets us know that there is “No School” (or that report cards were sent home, so check your kid’s bag in case they are hiding it from you!).
Up north, you get snow days. Here in Florida, we get Hurricane Days. Seriously, we even have hurricane make-up days scheduled into the school calendar! But this Friday, I decided since everyone was taking Erica THAT seriously, it was time to batten down the hatches. Now, just what does that mean, you may ask, especially if you have never faced a hurricane before, so let me lighten the worry with, you guessed it, a LIST!
HURRICANE PREP 101
- Make sure you have hurricane supplies first, as stores will sell out of things quickly if a hurricane is on its way to you. This is akin to “Prepping,” which seems to have gotten a bad rap, but being ready for any event that may cause extensive power outages and keeping you home, seems pure logical this mom. Anyhow, politicking aside, what do you need to get?
- Water– enough water for 2 litres per person a day, 4 in hotter climates (which is us!) (Red Cross recommends 1 gallon per person)That is a lot of water! And it is the first item to sell out. Try DIY stores (they sell water) and warehouse stores. Also your own tap- fill water bottles, ice tea jugs, drinking pitchers, etc. If you can store them in the fridge, great, if not, remember, they have a short shelf life as they are not sealed! DO NOT reuse milk jugs! You can’t clean them properly and they can get you sick!
- Food– Canned goods ( but make sure you have a non-electric can opener) like tuna, veggies, tinned fruit. If you get things that need heating, make sure you have a fuel stove to heat them as the power might be out. If you have a gas stove, great! Remember, bad weather may keep you inside with no power, but your options open up, pasta feeds the masses, as does soup. Have bread on hand for filling them up too.
- Medicines– any meds you or your kids need (or animals too) get a back up, as you don’t know when you’ll be able to get to town to get that next prescription filled- same with glasses- have a spare!
- Animal food- don’t run out of dog/chicken/horse/iguana/boa food (or meds).
- If you have a baby, are you feeding them formula? If so, stock up. Same goes for diapers. You seriously, don’t want to run out of those!
- Batteries– for flashlights and radio- have a battery radio to keep up with the storm location and warnings, your TV will lose it’s signal, even the satellite televisions do ( I know from experience.)And have lighting options for night if you lose power- dark with kids is no picnic. We used candles in hurricane lamps that hung from our ceiling during the night- don’t cause a fire hazard though, remember kids are attracted to those candle flames!!
2. Shelter: can you stay home during a hurricane? Do you live in a solid, high-wind/rain worthy house? Are you above the flood zone? Consider these issues. Hurricane shelters are available- usually in schools (around us). Find out your nearest storm options, as it is a first come, first serve basis. Bring only the minimum to a shelter- there will be lots of people there! Get to know the location of your nearest shelter or the evacuation route if you are on the coast. We have had mandatory evacuations in areas around us in the past. Mother nature is not something you can win the fight against.
Florida Hurricane Disaster Shelter List: www.FloridaDisaster.org
Your local news station should have a shelter list on their website too.
So, you’ve decided to stay home:
You’ve come to the conclusion that your house is your safest bet for you and the family and you’ve done your hurricane supply shopping, now, what is next?
- Clean your yard– get the kids to help on this. Anything loose you can consider to be a missile. Remember, winds are fiercer than ever and do you want that shovel or toy truck hurled through your window?
- Fold up sun umbrellas and store in a garage, all toys, garden tools, buckets, etc. If you have a concrete pool and patio furniture, I know some people just chuck their patio furniture in their pool (it was plastic furniture though).
- Anything you can’t store, secure (tie to a fence, wedge between). I put potted plants under our patio.
2. In the past, we had to tape up the windows– a big X across the window with masking tape, in case it broke it wouldn’t shatter into the room. Now they make hurricane windows- are yours storm worthy? or
3. In the 2004 spate of hurricanes, everyone started boarding up their windows with big sheets of plywood screwed in place over the window. This is where those working shutters in St. Augustine would come in handy! Why don’t people have them around here? Consider your window safety options.
4. Water: not for drinking. Fill up bathtubs, buckets inside for toilet- flushing and general washing water.
5. Power source: again, in 2004, gas generators were a life saver for some. No power means your fridge food will go bad. Also your freezer will defrost. People powered their fridges with their generators. No power means no water also, if you rely on an electric pump. Do you need a generator?
5. Know where your emergency supplies are: ie, candles/flashlights, battery powered radio & chain saw with gas- wait, what? Yes, I’ve been trapped in a village by fallen trees in the road, after a super storm swept through our mountain. If you have a chainsaw and know how to use it, make sure it has gas/oil. You may need it. (Don’t go anywhere near fallen power lines though, as they may still be live.)
6. Games: a pack of cards go a long way when you suddenly have all the time in the world. If you are in your own home, board games, charades and drawing supplies are good too. How long will the battery last on those electronic games? And do you have a alternative (non-electric) charger for your phone?
If the hurricane has arrived:
7. Keep everyone indoors– kids, grandparents, spouses, dogs, cats (put the chickens in their coop). If there is a hurricane, you do NOT travel. People have lost their lives because they decided to pay so and so a visit. Trees fallen on cars, power lines fallen, etc.
8. Above all else, Keep Calm. Your kids will follow your lead. If you are anxious, they will be too.
And now you wait. Prepping for a hurricane is a mini-storm in itself, and the waiting can be the boring aftermath. As it turned out for us, now-lucky Floridians, Hurricane Erica fizzled out, but we are expecting heavy rains- something that has been happening here so much I’m considering planting rice! However, our yard is clean and we are ready for the next named storm on the horizon: Fred.
I am NOT a hard core prepper and do not pretend to be. There are many websites for those needing more indepth info. However, for drinking water safety (which I consider a priority):
www.ready.gov (US gov. website for drinking water treatment)
Red Cross Water safety (Red Cross Website)
Be prepared BEFORE the storm:
Red Cross Hurricane Safety (Red Cross website)
National Hurricane Center (gov website. weather, storm tracking & hurricane safety)