eing from Miami, I have my fair share of experiences with category 3,4 and even five hurricanes. They are not pleasant. They are quite scary.
Your emotions can get the best of you, especially if you don’t have family around you.
Right now, yes, at this very moment, as I write this post, I am without electricity because of Hurricane Sally. Just a category two hurricane, but it just so happened to hit Foley, Alabama, and I guarantee this town was not ready for it, so I have no power.
Southeast FL is very well prepared for hurricanes. Their cable lines, their building structures, emergency services, everything. Foley, AL… not so much. So this hurricane maybe just a category 2, but it has felt like a category 3 and 4 because of the nearby damage, loss of power, and severe floods.
This post is not research-based, and it is the first post I will write, which is based purely on my experience with hurricanes.
So, if I forget something or you had a different experience than I did and found better ways to prepare, by all means, share them with me.
So let’s get right down to it! Here are 16 tips on how to prepare for a hurricane.
- Put up your Shutters early.
Whether you have actual shutters or purchase plywood to hammer over windows, make sure you start early. The winds are the most dangerous early on. Their speeds can go up to 140mph, depending on the strength of the hurricane. Debris will be thrown around. So protecting your windows with shutters or plywood is very important to protect your home and everyone inside it. Not to mention its also labor-intensive and time-consuming. DO NOT underestimate it.
- Buy drinking water
Dehydration is very dangerous. Make sure you buy enough water to last at least a week but plan for more. I know it sounds excessive. But when the electricity goes out, you won’t have A/C or fans to work. You will sweat, and you can get dehydrated. You also don’t know how long you will be out of power.
- Buy food that won’t spoil easily and can be quickly cooked without the need for electricity and if you have a BBQ grill, have extra gas tanks. In Miami, most people have BBQ grills outback. This helps because you can still cook things.. my family did.✓ So make sure you have extra gas tanks. BUT, if you don’t… then you depend on electricity to cook. This means that anything that needs the stove, pressure cooker, or oven.. will not be useful.
Buy foods that you can eat without having to cook them.. and foods that don’t spoil easily. Cereals are a good option. Certain fruits are great! It will help you eat healthy even if it’s unintentional!
Bananas, Oranges, Mangos, and peaches. These are a few of my favorite. Peanut butter, Nutella, and bread are also good options.✓ Cans of tuna are also great! Peanuts, mixed nuts, almonds, raisins, and prunes are great snacks too. You can also get seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, flax, etc. These are just a few ideas. You can also get unhealthy but yummy potato chips, cookies, donuts, etc. But don’t overdo it. Stress can make you change your eating habits. Hurricanes are no different.
- Get a flashlight and batteries.
When your electricity goes out, it will get very dark. With dark skies and no power, it can get pitch black. So have flashlights and plenty of batteries. If you have kids at home, the darkness is sometimes the scariest part for them. They hear all this noise outside, but they can’t see what is happening around them, giving them light. Those battery-powered hallway lights are great. You know, the ones you press down on, and they turn on and off.
- Fill up your car with gas.
Even if you don’t plan on going anywhere…. Have your car tank full! You never know if you will need to go somewhere to get extra food/water or help a family member. We had to drive to my sister’s house to get water and extension cords. Not a far enough drive to impact out the gas tank, but you never know.
- Get extra gas in those red containers.
This gas can be used for the car, but also a generator if you have one. Powering a refrigerator with a generator, eats up a lot of gas. So make sure you pack plenty. Especially if you don’t know how long the lack of power will last. We had to pull gas from our car because our extra fuel ran out, trying to power our refrigerator.✓
- Buy a small generator if you can afford it.
Lucky for my family back in Miami, we had one. During one hurricane, our power was out for five days. The refrigerator was full of food. But, we had our generator and gas to keep it running and keep all our food fresh. Besides, my nephew is asthmatic, and he started having anxiety attacks thinking that he had no power to use his nebulizer. Some medications also need to be refrigerated, so plan for that as well.
- Buy one or more fans.
When you’re out of power, loss of A/C can be very dangerous for certain people, such as the elderly. Our wiser generations cannot tolerate heat well. Having portable fans will help keep a room cool and prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
- Buy extension cords
Since the generator uses gas, it throws off fumes. You do not want the generator inside the house! Extension cords will allow you to power your refrigerator safely. You can also plug in lights and charge your phones. We were also able to keep my nephew calm as we had power, and he’d be able to use his nebulizer if he had an asthma attack.
- Do not open your refrigerator unless you need to
Opening the door will let the “cold” out. If you have no power, you must limit the number of times you open it. This ensures your items stay cool for longer.✓
- Get as many family members together in the same place as you can
When the power goes out, cell service also starts to dwindle. If you have many family members spread out, and you lose the ability to communicate with them, it will add tension and anxiety to an already stressful situation. Having as many people as you can with you gives you peace. You know how they’re doing because they’re right next to you. Losing cell service suddenly becomes unimportant, and it reduces stress and anxiety.
- Put your cars in the garage.
Heavy winds will likely break tree limbs, send mailboxes flying, and more. Keeping your cars in the garage will keep them protected. It will also protect them from being flooded, especially if your garage is on an incline. Most garage ways in Miami are made that way for that reason. Not all cars will fit in the garage. So if your parkway is NOT on an incline, I would leave the higher car outside so that if there is flooding, it’s higher off the ground.
- Stay in the room with the least windows…yes, even a closet it necessary.
During intense hurricanes, windows become quite dangerous. For one, things can fly in, and second, the strong winds create a negative pressure outside your window, and they can be blown out. (yes out, not in). Staying in the room with the least number of windows is safest, and if necessary, even a closet. This becomes more important during category 4 and 5 hurricanes.
- Ask for medication refills!
You don’t know how long you will be on lockdown. Don’t let your medications run out. Call your doctor early and have those meds filled. For example, oxygen tanks, if you’re on supplemental O2, medications for asthma, epi pends for an allergic reaction, and insulin. These are things your body depends on to survive, so make sure you have enough of them.
- Know where the shelters near you are
If you can stay safe at home, then do so, however, sometimes the hurricane is very strong, and your county will advise you to seek shelter in your area. Find out where those are before you loose phone service or wifi/data. That way, you can get there without needing a GPS, which relies on good cell service.
- Never walk through puddles or flooded areas.
During heavy winds and rain, many things can fall onto the ground. Floods and puddles will hide whatever is on the ground, especially electric cables. So if you are walking your dog, which I have also done during a hurricane, DO NOT walk through the puddles or flooded areas.
Hopefully, these tips help some of you plan for future hurricanes. Yes, they can be scary. Planning well is the best way to stay safe. As always, though, this is a health blog… so I had to touch on a few health issues and concerns, including dietary options and chronic medical conditions that rely on refrigeration, a cool environment, and power. Things that often are lost during hurricanes. Be mindful of these things as your plan for a hurricane, and above all, stay safe.