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Hurricane Season runs from June 1 through November 30th every year. Being from South Louisiana, I have experienced my fair share of hurricanes. My family usually doesn’t believe in evacuating so I have been through many hurricanes including Katrina.
Whether you stay or evacuate, there are things you need to do to prepare for what happens during the hurricane and after, secure your home, and protect your valuables.
Side Note: If you can evacuate for a hurricane, I recommend that is the course of action that you should take. While I have experienced many hurricanes, I am not a professional and I want you to be as safe as possible. This is just what I learned from my experiences and what I have seen. I have also seen many people take a hurricane lightly, only for it to be much worst than anticipated.
How To Prepare For Hurricane Season:
Keep an eye on the tropics
Most of the hurricanes that impact the US develop in the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean Sea. Sometimes they also develop in the North Atlantic as well as the North Pacific. They can develop quickly and unexpectedly. Once developed, they can also strengthen or weaken quickly. You must stay weather aware so you can further prepare if need be.
- In the event of a hurricane does form, be sure to track it. This is something we learned how to do in elementary school. We used a Hurricane Tracking Chart. Now you can just watch for the updates on television or the internet. Nevertheless, hurricanes can change direction quickly. Especially if you live along the coast, you must track it.
Stock up on supplies
When a hurricane comes, you never know if/how long you may be without electricity and water. Sometimes it can take awhile for citizens and repair crews to enter back into the area after a hurricane. This means it could be days to weeks without electricity and water. Even if you do have running water, it is highly likely it may be contaminated. Also, sometimes the roads are shut down for a period of time. This means that supply trucks can’t get into the area. In turn, stores may not be open and if they are, they may not have enough supplies.
Things to stock up on if you stay
- Bottled water: It is good to plan for a gallon per person per day. It is usually okay to shower in the water even if it is considered contaminated, but not recommended to drink it without boiling. But, without electricity, you may not have means to boil your water. Bottled water is always a good plan. My mom also used to fill up ice cream buckets with water just in case.
Tip: You can also freeze water so that it can keep your food cold and as it defrosts, you will have cold water.
- Food: Mostly nonperishable food aka canned foods/dry goods: If the power does go out, your freezer and fridge will not have power to keep your food cold. I would suggest cooking what you have (if you have a grill or run off of gas) so that it doesn’t spoil. But, if you do not have means to cook, canned foods and sandwiches will be your best bet.
Tip: Make sure you have a manual can opener. An electric can opener will do you no good if you do not have electricity (unless it is battery powered in which case make sure you have batteries)
- Flashlights/Batteries/battery powered radio: You will need a light source at night. Sure, you have a flashlight app on your phone but you should be conserving the battery life on your phone to be able to receive updates/communicate with others. Candles are another option but you must be careful and keep an eye on them. Candles can quickly turn from a light source into a blaze so flashlights are the recommendation here. Make sure you have adequate batteries and the correct size for said flashlights.
- A radio is also a good source to receive updates when your cable is out
Tip: You can get a Hand Powered/Solar Powered Flashlight and not have to worry about batteries.
Tip: They also now make a hand/ solar powered flashlight, radio, phone power bank combo which would be ideal for this situation.
- First aid supplies: You never know what can come about during a store. A good first aid kit is your first line of action in the case of minor injuries. Plus they are good to have in general.
- medication: Both over the counter and prescription medication is important to have. Make sure you have medication for headaches, bug bites, etc.
- Also have minor wound care supplies
- Baby items: Again, you do not know when the stores will reopen so stock up on any baby necessities you may need within the next week or two. Diapers, wipes, medications, formula, baby food
- Pet Items: Don’t forget about having enough pet food to last for a week or two. Also, any medications your pets may need.
Tip: Baby wipes help when you can’t take a shower. A lot of times if you can shower, you may not have hot water.
If a Storm is approaching:
- Gather all your important documents into once place. If you can, scan them and put them into your email or on a cloud. If not, put what you can in waterproof bags.
- Make sure you get fuel: The days before and after a storm, gas stations get super busy. You want to make sure you have enough fuel in your vehicles to travel if you evacuate. If you are riding it out, you will want to have enough fuel for after the storm (never know when gas stations will reopen/get fuel trucks in). You also want to have enough fuel if you have a generator.
- Protect your home: Board up/use shutters to protect your windows and glass doors
- Clean up your yard: Secure anything that can fly in the 74+ mph winds. This would also be a good idea for other tropical storms.
- Take inventory of prescriptions when a storm is approaching. You never know when the pharmacy will reopen so be sure to get what you need a head of time.
- Make sure your cell phone is charged: It isn’t always guaranteed that you will have service once a storm hits, but when you do have service, you will want to check on your loved ones and friends. (Don’t waste your battery playing candy crush, etc.)
- Take care of your pets: In our area over the last few storms, I noticed a lot of people have been being rescued with their pets. This makes my heart happy; however, some pet owners leave their animals behind. Some even leave them chained up somewhere (how will an animal escape a flood if there are tied to a tree?)
- Have patience: You aren’t the only person that is about to go through a hurricane. Be nice and courteous to those who are also preparing.
If you decide to “Ride Out The Hurricane”:
- Keep a bag packed just in case you have to have an emergency evacuation: Even if you think everything will be fine, you never know when conditions could suddenly worsen. Don’t assume everything will be fine. Have a bag packed with essentials in case you have to be rescued.
- Keep an ax/something to cut a hole in your roof, by your roof: If you are flooded and have to be rescued, you have to make it to where the rescue teams can find you. This is often times on the roof. You have to make it out there so keep something in the attic to help you to get through the roof.
- Sheets: Keep sheets in the attic also: This could help helicopters and rescue crews to locate you. It would be much easier to see a white sheet spread compared to a person against a dark background.
Tip: The eye of the hurricane (center) is very calm. Be cautious of the eye if it passes over you. It may even seem like the storm is over. Also, the area around the eye can have some of the strongest/ most damaging parts of the whole hurricane.
What to do if you evacuate:
- Let family know where you will be going and make sure you know who is staying behind. It can be extremely stressful trying to figure out who is safe and who may be in danger if you don’t know where everyone is. Also, if you leave and you have family that stays, they can give you updates on what is really happening and check on things for you post hurricane. (Sometimes residents aren’t allowed back into an area for a period of time depending on damage and once they are allowed back in, it can take hours of traffic to get back. Also, the news doesn’t usually cover all areas affected and can sometimes only focus on the “worst” parts and exaggerate how bad it was.)
- Take the things most important to you: I know, things can be replaced. But, if you lose EVERYTHING in a hurricane, it will make you feel better if you can take a few (small) important things with you such as sentimental family things that cannot be replaced.
- Place valuables high off the floor: You may think you live in an area that will not flood. Guess what, within the last few years, there have been areas in South Louisiana that haven’t flooded in decades that have flooded. You never know. You never know how much rain will fall, how the ground will absorb the water, how the drainage will flow, if the pumps are working, if the levees will hold. There are a multitude of circumstances that can allow for flooding.
- Take pictures of your home and contents: Take photos of your home and things such as electronics and appliances and other big ticket items. You will want to include the make, model and serial number if possible. This will help in the event that you need to file an insurance claim.
What to do after a hurricane:
- Once returning from a hurricane, be careful. Be careful of the traffic, of the road conditions, of driving through flooded streets. You never know how deep the water is or if there is a hole or debris in the road way.
- Be careful once you are home. There may be damage, power surges and contaminated water.
- NEVER TOUCH POWER LINES: there is no way to tell if there is electricity running through them or not
- If your home flooded, take photos as soon as possible. Try to take pictures of the water marks on the walls. This will tell how high the water came up.
- Check on friends and loved ones.
- Clean up. Help others clean up.
Little brings a community together like a Hurricane. You have a bunch of folks that put everything aside to help one another. It really is a beautiful thing, but it is terrible that it takes something like loss to bring people together.
Hopefully this hurricane season will be a calm one, but you never know. They can pop up quickly and intensify just as quickly. Be prepared, and aware especially if you live along the coast. You just never know.
Let me know if you have any other tips I should include.
Have A Lovely Day!