Hurricane season is upon us. It is crucial to prepare ahead of time if you live in areas that are regularly affected. Remember that even if you live several hundred miles inland, you can still get some inclement weather or a surge in travelers that are seeking supplies or looking for a place to “ride out the storm.”
I think it is important to prepare immediately for several reasons.
COVID-19’s economic impacts, as well as other factors, have the supply chain in shambles.
Shortages are very common. A lot of us are just waiting on the next one. Now it is more important than ever to plan and keep extra supplies on hand of essential daily items such as food, water, medication, and don’t forget to plan for your pets and any elderly relatives that live independently on their own.
People are on edge, and acts of violence, including murder, are on the rise.
In larger cities, the rates have gone up astronomically. Many police are resigning or have had their departments defunded, so fewer officers are on hand to respond to calls. During stressful times like a natural disaster, people that are already on edge may act out. You don’t want to be in line at the store when shelves of essentials are beginning to look empty. Check out this Peak Prosperity article on “Home Defense Methods and Strategies”.
Hurricanes could easily damage important infrastructure.
The recent Colonial Pipeline hack quickly depleted the fuel supply where I live in North Carolina. Many stations still don’t have gas or have limited amounts. Damage to offshore oil rigs and refineries close to the coastlines is not uncommon during hurricane season. Fortunately, with a little planning and money, you can help insulate your family from the effects. Simply never letting your vehicle get lower than ½ a tank of gas is a step in the right direction. If you have the ability to store ten extra gallons and make an effort to cut out unnecessary driving, you might be able to stay out of the worst of the lines.
Increased risk of ransomware attacks during a time of crisis could be catastrophic.
Consider that Darkside was paid the money. Paying bribes could easily encourage others to try similar attacks. During a time of crisis, companies may feel even more so that they have no other option but to pay out in the hopes that the attackers will give them the tools to fix the problem.
Make sure you have two weeks’ worth of food.
For hurricanes, make sure you have foods on hand that don’t require much preparation but are shelf-stable.
Water and Water Filter
I recommend filling up some water containers ahead of time. Having a case or two of bottled water on hand might be nice but it is expensive and it is foolish to stand in line to fill your car up with bottled water during an emergency. Collapsible water containers are inexpensive and work well. If you do buy water at the store, purchase the large 5 gallon jugs made for water dispensers. You can reuse those bottles too if you buy the right stopper. They are a much better deal than tiny bottles.
Every household should own a good emergency water filter. They do not cost a lot and they can mean everything during a disaster. I like water filters that are gravity fed. They are so much easier to use and they can put out enough potable water for a family. If you have ever pumped water through a filter on a backpacking trip then you know how hard it would be to pump enough for a family.
I recommend the HydroBlue Versa Flo and 10L Gravity Bag for a family filter that packs away easily. Sawyer and Lifestraw also make quality gravity fed filters for group use.
A Backup Cooking Method
Grilling outside may be possible at times. Never use a grill indoors. Small stoves that run on sterno fuel are good. Some propane stoves can be used inside safely. Always check to make sure. Carbon Monoxide poisoning can kill fast.
Those with gas kitchen stoves can usually use the top burners if they use a match or lighter to ignite the eye. A good wood stove can work too.
Have your meds refilled as soon as you can. Ask your doctor if you can get a 90 day supply at once if you don’t already do so. Unless you are on a narcotic based prescription or specific psychiatric meds, chances are your doctor will be able to allow larger refills.
Those that have pets on very specialized diets need to be especially careful about keeping an extra supply on hand.
Battery bank for your cell phone
Even a small battery bank can be helpful. There are some that you can keep plugged into your car. A small inverter with USB can allow you to charge phones off of your car too.
Consider a small back up power bank for small devices and extra lighting.
A small power center that can be charged off of solar, 12V, or 110V power is nice to have on hand during an emergency. We keep several Jackery power centers charged up at all times.
Emergency Radio with NOAA band
I like the Kaito emergency radios. They are inexpensive and have a lot of great features. They use batteries, solar, hand crank, or regular 110V power. Many of the newer versions have SD card slots that allow you to play audio books and music and they are Bluetooth compatible. The NOAA weather band keeps you up to date on local and regional weather conditions. Most Kaitos pick up AM/FM and shortwave bands too.
Some cash and paper checks
You might have not used a check in years and you may not be in the habit of carrying cash but during an emergency you will be glad that you have some of each. When I was living in Ketchikan, AK a storm came through and knocked out some important transmission lines on a nearby island. This cut off the entire town from the electronic banking system. You couldn’t just drive to a nearby town that had power. Ketchikan is only accessible by water or plane. No cards could be processed and you could only get a small amount of cash out of the bank. Having a checkbook made it possible to buy the things you needed. We were glad that we had paper checks.
Important documents in an easy-to-grab folder.
Some documents are hard to replace. Birth certificates, Social Security cards, copies of ID or drivers licenses, insurance cards for home, health, and vehicle, and other docs should be kept where they are secure but easy to grab and take with you during an emergency. Even a copy of each is better than nothing.
Crates, leashes, etc., for your pets in case you have to evacuate or stay in a hotel temporarily.
Cleaning Supplies and Disinfectants
Cleaning supplies can be in short supply during a natural disaster. Keeping a few supplies on hand in a place that is not likely to be damaged is recommended. Even keeping a few things in a vehicle may be a good idea.
- Bleach or bleach tablets. I am a big fan of bleach tablets because they are more shelf-stable. A 40 count bottle makes gallons of bleach and takes up the same amount of space as a bottle of vitamins.
- Disposables are nice, but they are not always easy to find due to COVID, and the price has gone up substantially. Dishwashing gloves are great if you cannot find anything else.
- Spray bottles
- Paper towels and microfiber cloths. Old cotton shirts work great as cleaning rags too.
Storm Proofing Your Home
Window Security Film
This film is easy to apply to your windows—the thicker the film, the better the protection against projectiles. While windows can still break, security film makes it a lot harder, and it prevents the untempered glass from forming shards. It essentially turns untempered glass into very tough tempered glass.
Have trees trimmed that could be a danger to your home during a strong storm
Storm shutters are advisable in areas that get hurricanes regularly. Over the years, they are way more economical and practical than purchasing and installing plywood sheets.
Secure all lawn furniture or décor.
If you can bring in your furniture, then do so. Anything else you value should be tied down well. Consider what could become a dangerous projectile during high winds.
Lock all windows and doors before leaving your home. Make it as hard as you can for thieves to take advantage of your absence if you have to evacuate.
Know how to turn off your utilities
Broken water or gas pipes can cause a lot of trouble. Make sure you know how to turn off your mains.
Your electrical box has a main breaker that you can throw to disconnect power to your home. It is a good idea to have all breakers marked just in case you need to throw one due to a problem.
Find a shelter or place to stay ASAP.
Nowadays, most people book hotels online. This means that the minute people know there is danger and need to stay somewhere; they book up all the hotels and lodging quickly. You need to act soon, or you will have to go even further into the safety zone or get a more expensive place to stay.
Car Prep Checklist
- Never let your gas tank get below ½ a tank
- Get routine maintenance done right away. It is important to maintain your vehicle and catch any problems quickly.
- Have some supplies in your car at all times. You can call it a 72-hour kit or bug-out bag if you want. Regardless the idea is that you have enough in your car at all times to last at least a few days.
- Keep an extra key for your car. Let another trusted family member that is traveling with you carry that key. This avoids trouble if you lock yourself out or someone loses one.
Recovery times for areas impacted by hurricanes could be much longer than in the past.
With everything going on in the world, a strong hurricane or an overall eventful storm season could take longer to recover from. Shortages of building materials and high prices will make recovery times take substantially longer. In some cases, recovery will simply not happen, thus dealing a massive blow to many local economies. Insurance companies will have their hands full and be looking for any excuse they can find not to pay out any more than they have to.
Research evacuation routes if you don’t already know them.
In areas where hurricanes are common, evacuation routes are often clearly marked. At the same time, it may be good to find alternative routes. Your main evacuation route could be backed up or another problem may arise. Some people keep a magnetic box under their vehicle with an extra key in it.
Don’t go back too soon.
It can be dangerous to go back home before it is deemed safe by authorities. High waters, downed power lines, and other dangers could await. There is also the fact that you don’t know what amenities will even be available if you return.
Make sure that everyone in your family knows the evacuation plan.
Schools typically close well in advance, but that doesn’t mean you cannot pick up kids even earlier. I grew up out in Washington state near the banks of the Skagit River. During my childhood, I went through a lot of catastrophic floods, including a 100-year flood. My Dad would come to get me from school ASAP if it looked like it would worsen by the time school was out. We lived in Hamilton, where the flooding was often the worst, so it was understandable.
Post Hurricane Precautions
Unfortunately there is danger in going back to your home and in the first few days after a hurricane. Looting can happen anywhere. Be cautious when returning to your home. I would check each room thoroughly while armed with something to protect myself and I would make sure that someone else was nearby in case of trouble.
The type of wildlife that may find there way into your home varies based on your location. People in swampy coastlines have come home to find alligators lounging in their house. Snakes, opossums, raccoons, and other small wildlife are even more likely.
Flood waters, high winds, impact from projectiles, and other damage can lead to buildings not being safe for occupancy. I remember just how nasty the water could be when flooding occurred. Look for anything obvious and don’t forget your basement.
Bacteria rich water, silt, and mold.
Garbage, animal carcasses and waste, and debris from destroyed buildings can add up to some bacteria filled water that you do not want to come into contact with. The smallest scrape will get infected. Mold and silt can cause respiratory problems.
What to do if your home is damaged or really dirty
If you have insurance you can probably get your insurance company to pay for a place for you and your family to stay. They may also provide some funds for personal items to replace what is lost so you can have reasonable living standards while an assessment and repairs are made.
That can take a little time to get set up especially if a lot of people are in the same position. You may have to meet your own needs for a few nights and hopefully be reimbursed later. Make sure to save receipts for all basic needs.
If the mess is something that you can deal with yourself or you don’t want to involve insurance because it doesn’t seem to be too extreme, then at least make sure you wear proper gear during clean up. Use good gloves and never let dirty water come in contact with your skin. A respirator or other mask is recommended for cleaning up moldy areas or dusty silt. A bleach solution works well for killing mold and mildew spores if you can safely use it on the surface in question.
What are you doing to prepare for hurricane season? Do you have any tips to add for those that have recently moved to areas that are prone to hurricane damage?