Should a hurricane be headed to your home and you can safely stay there, there are some things to remember to do before the storm arrives.

Before the hurricane arrives

  • First fill your bathtub. If water lines could be affected (or sewage treatment plants) this water will be precious. A WaterBob will fit into the tub and keep water fresh for drinking as well as sanitation.
  • If you are expecting a flood, turn off the main breaker to your electricity. If there is already water in the floor, don’t touch the panel! Move valuables to a higher floor before leaving.
  • Gas valves are usually outside and require a special wrench for shut off.
  • Taping windows offers little if any protection from flying storm debris. Storm shutters or impact resistant windows are better.
  • Secure all outside furniture or items that can become airborne missiles and outside and inside doors. Go to a small room away from windows. Keep blinds closed.
  • Way before storms are imminent, consider buying a generator. A portable one will run the basics. 5,000 watts should cover fridge and microwave. If AC is a must, consider 10,000 watts. Learn how to use it before you need it. Run it once a month to keep starting battery charged.
  • Gather some essential cooking tools: manual can opener, water purifier filter, appliances that can be plugged in to a generator, like slow cookers and portable microwaves. A Sun Oven®  or a cloudy day stove will be useful after the storm passes when power is out or limited.
  • Wash everything that needs it before the storm hits. Have clothes pins and a line to hang them . Wet clothes can be places on hangers and hung from trees, if available.
  • Make sure cars are filled with gas. Extra gas cans filled with gas can be used to fuel generator. If your car will accept a siphon pump, you can use one to replenish generator from auto fuel.
  • Check your food storage. What do you have that can be opened manually and eaten entirely so there will be no need for refrigeration of left overs? Get a supply of drinking water. Use paper plates.
  • Make sure you have fuel for any camping stoves or grill: propane, charcoal, matches, lighter fluid, etc. Scour your Dutch oven so it’s not rusty.
  • Have plenty of flashlights and batteries, solar lights make great night lights for bathrooms.
  • Charge all electronics before the storm hits. Back up computers. Get battery operated radio and learn what channel is in your area.
  • Get plenty of insect repellent!!
  • Get a well insulated cooler designed to keep ice for 5 days. Turn freezer and refrigerator to high before storm hits and minimize opening. Use chest as intermediary. Freeze bottles of water to help keep fridge cool when power goes out.
  • Store lots of toilet paper and a camp potty with disposable bags.
  • Have tarps, heavy duty trash bags and cleaning supplies on hand for clean up. Tools like saws and work gloves will be useful.
  • Have some cash, in small bills and coins, on hand in case credit cards won’t work.
  • Hunker down and plan to share and to help others during the recovery.

After the hurricane passes

Stay indoors until local authorities give the “all clear”. If you go out during a lull, it could just be the eye of the storm and winds will pick up again. Listen to radio, tv or text messages for information.

  • Listen to local radio or television for advice and instructions about medical help, emergency housing, clothing of food assistance and for ways to help yourself and your community recover.
  • Stay away from disaster areas. You do not want to interrupt crucial rescue and recovery work. You also don’t want to become collateral damage.
  • Drive only when necessary and be especially careful. Streets will be filled with debris and downed power lines. Flooded streets may have become undermined and collapse under the weight of a car.
  • Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to power company, police or fire department
  • Report broken gas, sewer or water mains.
  • Be very careful creating fires for cooking. With water pressure low, fire fighting will be more difficult.
  • check refrigerated food for spoilage. Follow instructions from local health department as to how to discard it.
  • Stay away from river banks and streams until all potential flooding has passed.
  • If you had to evacuate, don’t rush back into your home
  • Look for exterior damage around your property.
  • Note sounds and odors. If you smell gas (rotten egg odor) or a hissing noise, call fire department for an inspection before you reenter.
  • Once inside, if the power is out and the house is dark use a flashlight (not a candle) to assess damage.
  • Check appliances for any damage. Do not use until they’re repaired or replaced.
  • Document the damage with photographs. You will need a visual record of all the damage to file an insurance claim. Make clear pictures and thorough notes before you begin cleaning up.
  • The best thing to use for cleaning up flooded areas is household bleach.Throw away any food that has come into contact with flood waters.
  • Wash your hands with clean water and soap.
  • If you are using a generator, keep it outside and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Lots of people want to help victims of a hurricane, wait & see – don’t donate items unless specifically requested; donations to a known disaster relief organization is always helpful, if local authorities ask for volunteer help, be sure to take your own food, water & sleeping gear.
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