If you’re in an area that may be impacted by a hurricane, listen up: There are things you can do now to prepare. Most of the hurricane preparedness tips on this list can be done well in advance of an approaching storm. Don’t wait. Do these things now, and if you do wind up taking a hit from mother nature, you’ll be grateful you took action beforehand.
With Hurricane Irene making a bee line for the Atlantic Coast, millions of people could be impacted. If the storm moves up the coast to New England, millions more may find themselves unprepared for the wrath. While you can’t do much about the storm itself, you can take steps now to keep yourself and your family protected.
Respect the Cone
Make a Go Bag
What the heck is a “go bag,” you ask? A “go bag,” or a “grab and go bag” is basically a kit that you can put together well in advance of any storm, especially a hurricane. You’ll need it if you are asked to evacuate an area in the path of a potentially dangerous storm. Your go bag should have some essential items, including:
Plenty of water (approximately one gallon for each person in your household, per day, for at least 3 days)
Non-perishable food (canned goods and a can opener, crackers, bread, chips, fruit – anything that won’t spoil)
Medication (be sure to refill any prescription medications you need before the storm hits, and include any over-the-counter meds you take regularly, along with a first aid kit, if possible)
Important documents and cash in small bags. You know that lock box you keep in the office closet? The one with insurance papers, mortgage papers, etc.? Get it out and have it ready to take with you if you need to evacuate.
An emergency radio, with extra batteries
A cell phone with a charger
Plastic baggies: You should put your important documents and cash, along with your phones, in plastic bags to protect them in case they get wet
Moist towelettes: If you don’t have running water handy, these little towelettes can be heavenly, allowing you to clean up after munching out on your canned goods and/or freshening up if you can’t take a shower.
**Another tip: Gather some blankets and pillows if you’re heading for a shelter.
Have a Flashlight and Batteries on Hand
Most of us do have at least one or two flashlights lying around the house. Time to dig through the kitchen drawers now. Make sure you have a working flashlight, in the event you lose power. Also, please check to make SURE you have extra batteries. Stock up!
Another tip: Candles are always a good idea. Have an ample supply. Also, make sure you have lighters and matches on hand. And please, don’t leave candles burning unattended. Just keep them lit in the areas where you and your family are – not in additional, unoccupied rooms.
Make a Family Emergency Plan
Every family should have some sort of emergency plan in place, be it for storms or any other disaster. If things get rough and a hurricane slams into your area, you may not be able to get good cell phone service. Make sure everyone in your household knows where to meet, if the worst happens. Designate an emergency contact person (preferably someone who lives out-of-town) and make sure everyone knows that person’s number.
Make sure everyone in the family knows how to text message. If phone systems get overwhelmed (and they definitely do in the wake of any disaster), texting may be the only means of communicating with others.
Grab Some Extra Cash
Get Fuel: Gas and Propane
Yes, gas up the vehicles. Don’t freak out and hoard (meaning don’t bring 18 gas cans and fill them all up), but make sure that the vehicles you have are fully fueled up. Prolonged power outages can cause big problems at the pump and temporary gas shortages do happen.
If you’ve got a gas grill, grab a tank or two of extra propane. If the power goes out, you’ll be able to cook (and use up the stuff in the freezer that may go bad quickly).
Charge Your Cell Phones
If you lose power, you won’t be able to charge your cell phone when the juice runs out. Be sure that all portable devices, especially cell phones, are fully charged well ahead of the storm. FEMA also recommends that people try to limit cell phone use in storm-ravaged areas – at least initially – so your cell phone/smart phone can be extremely important, allowing you to text and use social media to communicate with others.
**Another tip: If you live in a particularly storm-prone area, consider investing in a portable cell phone charger for your car.
Have a Weather Radio
Keep a Portable Radio Around
If Asked to Evacuate, GO
Have a Pet Plan in Place
Some hurricane shelters don’t allow pets. What to do? Get a plan in place now if you have to evacuate with Fido and Fluffy. If you have friends/family members within a reasonable driving distance, check with them to see if they’d let you hang for a bit with your furry friends. Also, some hotels DO allow pets – so surf around now to zone in on some. Make a reservation. You may need to use it. And sure, being holed up in a small hotel room with a dog and three cats probably won’t be a picnic, but it’s much better than leaving your besties behind. Don’t do that. Just don’t.
**Another tip: Find your pet’s most updated vaccination papers and take them with you.
**Still another tip: Be sure you have enough pet food and water to last 3-7 days.
Get a Cooler, Fill It With Ice
As long as you’re making preparations, consider getting a large cooler and filling it with ice (obviously you can’t do this days ahead, but if you have time, this will be well worth it). Sure, the ice will eventually melt, but if you lose power in a hurricane, you’ll at least have some cold drinks and cheese for all those crackers you bought!
**Another tip: Larger blocks of ice will melt much more slowly, so try to fill up your cooler/ice chest with big blocks of ice, if possible. Suggestion: Fill large Ziploc baggies with water and, while you still have power, freeze them to make large ice blocks!