Preparing For A Hurricane As An Adult Is Scary
You are an adult. Mostly. There’s just one tiny problem. You’ve likely never had to prepare for a hurricane on your own before. You’re young and likely lived with your parents for all the others. They were the responsible ones, dealing with ensuring there was enough food and the house was secured.
If you live anywhere that’s in the path of a hurricane, however, that should have been a life skill you learned in school.
Alas, we missed that boat.
I’ve experienced a number of tropical storms and hurricanes with my family in Jamaica (including the super cyclone Hurricane Gilbert), tropical storms that caused major flooding in Barbados, and a storm that led to tornadoes in Washington D.C. so I’m fairly experienced in hurricane prep. And well…I’m really serious about being prepared for this sort of thing so I just annoy other people into being prepared as well.
It’s a gift really.
I’m also waiting to hear from one of my really good friends on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands which has been devastated by Hurricane Irma. [Update: I heard from him and he is safe and well.]
After seeing the destruction in Barbuda and other Caribbean islands, let’s just say I’m REALLY motivated right now to make sure everyone takes care of themselves and their family before a hurricane hits.
So, here are my top 21 tips on how to prepare for a hurricane. You can only do so much when facing the awesome and destructive power of nature but these tips will help you make the best hurricane preparedness decisions.
21 Tips To Prepare For A Hurricane From A Caribbean Woman
1. Hurricane Prep Starts At The Beginning Of The Season
Trimming your trees, slowly buying nonperishable food, gathering important things all need to be done at the beginning of the hurricane season.
Hurricanes are expensive and dangerous and you need to live like a hurricane is likely, not a magical occurrence, if you live in an area could possibly be affected by a one. Preparation is key.
2. Clean Everywhere BEFORE The Hurricane
I am a fairly clean human being much of the time. When it comes to hurricane season, however, I’m a neat freak. There is nothing like being stuck in your house for days to show you how dirty the floors are and how dusty the place is. I have an overwhelming compulsion to clean during storms that can only be stopped if I look around and the place is actually clean.
You need to consider that, with the potential for flooding, leaking roofs, and debris, you want to make your space as clean as it can be before anything really gross occurs. So:
- sweep and wipe the floors,
- clean the windows,
- dust everywhere,
- scrub the kitchen and bathroom sinks to store water,
- scrub the whole bathroom as the tub is also a great place to store water and the toilet won’t be flushed as often,
- clean your refrigerator (if that’s something you notice),
- make the beds,
- and just generally have the whole place be clean.
You will notice dirt everywhere when you are stuck inside if you don’t.
3. Do Laundry
You aren’t likely to have water right before, during, and after the storm. Do laundry while you still have the water to. When a hurricane passes, it may take days for water supply to normalize, but you may still have work a day or 2 later. Prepare in advance for this eventuality. Plus, clean clothes rock.
4. Wash Your Dishes Then Don’t Use Any More
The same thing with the laundry applies here. Dishes need to be washed, if only so the roaches don’t survive on your scraps while you are stuck indoors. Wash and put away dishes, using the water supply you have before the storm.
Really smart people during storms resort to paper plates and cups so as not to use the precious water they have stored to drink and use for cooking and you should too.
But, even better is assigning each person 1 cup and 1 plate and asking them to use those alone during the storm. It not only conserves water if only dry goods touch the plate but also makes less waste since you don’t know when your next garbage collection may be.
5. Wash Your Hair
I cannot tolerate being stuck with dirty hair at a time when I cannot wash it. It’s one thing not to wash your hair. It’s another thing to not be able to. All of a sudden, you’ll start feeling the overwhelming urge to scratch it every 2 minutes.
Because water is precious during and after the hurricane, try to be as clean as you can be before since you don’t know when regular water supply will be restored so you can wash your hair again.
6. Water Conservation Is Your Priority
Before the hurricane, you will be encouraged to store water. And you should. But if you think you’ll only need the stored water for a day or two, think again.
Some of the last hurricanes and storms I have experienced have left us without water for a week or more. And you’d be surprised how much water you require for drinking, cooking, and washing your hands.
Conserve your water. You clean, fresh, potable water. After floods, the water supply may be contaminated or you may not be able to get any at all and well, water is life.
7. Use The Best Apps For Hurricanes
- Zello – A free walkie-talkie app for Android and iPhone and iPad that may allow you to communicate with family and friends if you still have Wi-Fi or data service.
- The Weather Channel – These people are experts and it helps to have hurricane coverage tailored to where you are. They have apps for iPhone and iPad as well as Android.
- And learn how to use Facebook and Twitter during a hurricane when the Internet is down.
8. Have Games To Play
Hurricanes are exciting outside and boring as hell inside. If you’ve boarded your windows, pulled down your hurricane shutters, and made your house as safe as can be from the devastating winds outside, you’ll be sitting inside well…bored.
Take out your board games like Monopoly, play Kalooki, play Go Fish, or teach your friends and family hand games. But going out of your mind all day, and panicking while listening to the radio and watching television coverage is stressful. And since you need to conserve the power on your electronic devices, analog games that require no electricity are going to be your best bet.
9. Have Books To Read (Personal Development Or Novels)
I’m predictable. I’m ok with that.
Hurricanes are the perfect time to catch up on your reading if the violent howling outside isn’t too distracting. Take a book or two down to read so you can distract yourself.
I’m reading Seth Godin’s “Tribes” right now, all about creating a group of people who feel committed to making a change with the help of a leader. Kinda like Vybz Kartel. But really, any book right now would be great.
Kindle batteries last for days and have a backlight for those nights without electricity but paper books are also an amazing option for the daytime when you have daylight.
10. Learn To Make An Emergency Toilet
Remember, you won’t have water to flush every two seconds like you’re accustomed to right now. The emergency toilet solution is pretty much the creation of an indoor pit toilet but could come in very handy where there is an extreme water shortage.
These nice people have outlined the process but also make sure to add in some hand sanitizer or wipes for your hands.
11. Where The Hell Are Your Important Documents?
I’ll wait as you think through the 10-15 places you have some document that would be important for you to have if you were to evacuate or needed to start life over.
These are the documents you will need. Go collect all of them and put them all in one easily reachable location. Not only if you need to evacuate, but also if you need to move them away from rising flood waters.
12. Prepare Your Emergency Supplies
You need to have a good sense of what you’ll take with you in the event of an emergency that requires evacuation. Maybe you’ll pack the bag now (and I suggest you do), or maybe you will if there is a hurricane warning, but make sure you have all the supplies on hand that you will need.
13. Emergency Supplies
- Non-perishable food – peanut butter and crackers are a great example of foods that need no refrigeration but provide a ton of energy.
- A radio – We have one similar to this at home. With a hand crank, solar panel, battery operation, and flashlight, there is really nothing that could prevent us from staying informed about the hurricane, its path, and what to do after.
- Batteries – many of the emergency devices you’ll need require batteries. I suggest only getting devices that use the same batteries because there is nothing as annoying as needing a D battery to power your torch or flashlight but only having 100 AA batteries.
- A manual can opener – much of the emergency food that you’ll be eating comes out of cans. Figure out a way to open them BEFORE the storm.
14. Figure Out Who You Could Stay With Instead Of Going To A Shelter (Emergency Housing)
Shelters are emergency housing. If you have friends or family members that are away from the danger zone, away from storm surge, and would be willing and able to take you in during a storm, check with them first. It lessens the stress on emergency services if only the people who have nowhere else to go use shelters.
15. Where Is Your Pet?
I have two dogs. And as of a week ago, 5 puppies as well.
Pictures from Hurricane Harvey which affected Houston, however, showed me that too many people forget their pets during times of emergency. Your pets depend on you to protect them but also to make sensible decisions.
At all times, have an emergency bag packed with supplies for your dog or cat or gerbil. And try to find a friend or family member to take you in if public shelters do not allow pets.
At no point in time, however, are you to tie your pet to a tree outside in the horrific wind and rising flood waters. Pets can survive or be rescued if they are free to run and find safer ground. Don’t be the asshole who prevents the pet from saving their own life.
16. Take Pictures Of Everything And Everywhere BEFORE The Storm Hits
You have a smart phone. You take selfies. Take selfies with your possessions for insurance purposes!
You could also take regular photographs or video of each room in your house so that, in the event of an insurance claim, you have less trouble with your insurance company.
But, do you.
Just make sure to take the pictures.
17. Protect Your Home
- Trim trees that look like they’ll break your windows or take off your roof.
- Batten down exposed panes of glass.
You know, that sort of thing.
18. Charge Your Devices And Power Banks
You will clearly want to tweet and update your Facebook status until the power goes out and the communication grid goes down. Just don’t forget that you aren’t likely to have power restored immediately so charge everything up!
19. Do You Need Meds?!
If you need medication, if you need to make sure that you have adequate supplies of things to keep you in good health and alive, get them.
20. Put 3/4 Filled Bottles Or Ziploc Bags In The Freezer
For your future cooling and water needs, put water 3/4 of the way in clean Ziploc bags and freeze them. 3/4 juice bottles are also useful. When they freeze, they’ll provide a way to keep your freezer cool after you lose power and will provide you with cool water as they melt.
The nights become extremely hot and humid during a hurricane and after it passes so look out for the needs of future you!
21. Have Cash On Hand
With no power, ATMs won’t work. Because you are awesome and forward thinking, however, you need to have cash on hand to buy emergency supplies and to take care of yourself until power returns.
Stay safe, stay dry, and follow your emergency services. Personal development is just much harder if you aren’t alive and safe to make it through! *hugs*