Hurricane season is showing up early this year, with a storm developing in the Gulf of Mexico while summer is still in full swing. Now more than ever people are looking at how to prepare for a hurricane or storm. It’s on everyone’s minds, which is a good thing because then they have a better chance of being prepared when a storm is heading toward them.
Don’t wait to prepare for a hurricane and don’t assume that you have enough. One thing we learned after Hurricane Harvey is that we didn’t have enough food saved.
Preparing for storms could be considered an Olympic sport. It took us days to prepare for Hurricane Harvey even though most of our preparations were never used. But there were things that we did preparing for the storm that really saved us from getting into a bad situation.
Most of your storm prep you may never use but don’t slack off because you might not need it. You do not want to get stuck in a bad situation that could have been prevented.
A Few Tips About Hurricane / Storm Preparation:
Please note that this is not an extensive list. These are just a few things that I have learned along the way while living on the Gulf Coast.
1. Gather Your Living Supplies
When you think about surviving a rough storm (Hurricane Harvey went from a tropical storm to an unforeseen category 4 hurricane in a day), think about what you would need for your family to survive for two weeks without help. Take into consideration that part of that might be without running water or electricity. What food does your family eat that can hold up without heat or refrigeration? Do you have any water or things to drink such as Gatorade? What else do you need to simply live somewhat comfortably? Do you need a window AC unit or charcoal that you can use to grill food? Know where all of this is ahead of time and consider moving it all to a central location right before the storm hits. After Hurricane Harvey, Damion’s parents gifted us with a generator to help us with power. We’ll go more into this below.
2. Gather some tools and home supplies
This is different from living supplies because these will be the items that you need to make sudden repairs to your home if you develop a roof leak or have other issues. For this past storm, I gathered a tarp, screwdrivers, matches, batteries (take them out of remote controls in a pinch), a hammer, flashlights, headlamps and some cording and put it all in a waterproof storage container in my kitchen before the storm hit. If we lost power and needed flashlights or needed a tarp to secure a leak, we wouldn’t be running around like a chicken with our heads cut off. Staying calm and knowing what you have and where it puts you ahead of the game in a stressful situation. Note: You might also want to add some cleaning supplies to your stash because as we learned with Hurricane Harvey, after a storm that turns into a disaster, these items will quickly be sold out at your stores.
3. Water, water, water
During a huge storm or hurricane, you might lose water or your town might declare a boil water notice. If you don’t have power, boiling it will be a huge issue. Don’t wait until these things happen to worry about water. Right now buy gallons of water and store them somewhere in your home. If a storm is coming and you have time to prepare, buy more water. If the stores are out of water, don’t panic. Simply fill up every container in your home that can hold water. You’d rather be safe than sorry. Filling tubs with water before a storm hits is also useful and the water from them can be used to flush toilets. After Hurricane Harvey, the water systems were all compromised and we had to rely on bottled water for weeks.
4. Save your cold / frozen foods
The more packed your fridge and freezer are, the longer they will stay cold. If you have an extra freezer, move everything you can into your main freezer. As soon as you know there’s a storm possibly headed your way, start freezing containers of water. Before Harvey hit, I froze huge bowls of water and kept them in our now-empty extra freezer. You can also fill up empty water bottles and freeze them. Draw one X on any water bottles you fill-up but could defrost and use in a pinch and 2 X’s on frozen bottles that you cannot consume in a pinch. For instance, I had a jug of water on top of our fridge from last year’s hurricane supplies which was dusty and the seal was broken. I didn’t trust that water but I still wanted to use it so I wrote 2 X’s on it and froze it. Pack as many water bottles or small containers of frozen water around the items in your freezer. If your power goes out, they will keep your items cool for a longer period of time. But don’t just stop with your freezer, if you lose power, quickly move frozen bottles/bowls of water to your refrigerator and then close the door and do not open it again unless you have to. The frozen water/ice will turn your fridge into a giant ice chest and your items will hold for longer. This really does work and saved our fridge and freezer during Harvey.
Here’s a longer post that covers this in detail – How to Save Your Fridge / Freezer in a Power Outage.
5. Have a game plan in place
We live in an area that floods easily. So before the storm hit I mentally tried to think about what items I would want to save if our home started to flood and what items I could let go. Mentally I also prepared for where our kids would sleep if the storm was too bad for them to be upstairs and then I acted and made sure the air mattress and pump were in their correct locations, which we did end up needing. We also had a safe place planned where we knew we would be safe and could easily get too if things got too bad to stay in our home.
6. Don’t forget your electronics
Buy charging banks and make sure they stay charged when you do have power. If you need to charge a device and don’t have power, sit in your car and let it charge for a bit. We relied heavily on our devices to get news and information during Harvey. Don’t let your devices go dead! We charged every single device in our home to full capacity before the storm, even really old outdated ones because they can always be used as a light source when the power goes out.
7. Be ready to go
Hopefully, you won’t need to suddenly leave your home but many of those affected by Harvey floods are now telling us the same thing – next storm, be ready to go! Make sure each family member has a backpack with clothes, underwear, medicine, important documents, ID and a cell phone charger. You might want to also write out a list of important phone numbers in case your phone gets lost or waterlogged. If you have pets, make sure their crates, leashes and collars are all in one spot.
We’ve been here for a few huge storms and have never needed an ounce of the preparations that we did in advance. But there’s been times that I’ve also needed a few of thing things that I did before the storm. With Hurricane Harvey, we used many of the things listed here and I truly feel like the little bit of preparation beforehand keep us calm and collected during those extremely stressful days.
After Harvey, I wrote out some of the lessons that we learned in preparing for a storm or hurricane.
If a storm is heading your way, prepare! Share this post with any friends you have that are now preparing for the next hurricane.
If you want to read our experience, check out Life After Harvey.