We’re concerned about so many friends in the path of Hurricane Florence right now and we know a lot of you are looking for tips to help get you prepared and keep you safe.
We hope that those of you in the evacuation zone are finding safer ground, and that everyone in the area is taking all the precautions — better to complain after that it was “no big deal” than to risk sticking out what could be an incredibly dangerous storm.
We’ve described some helpful storm preparation tech tips to keep you safe during a hurricane or other natural event that are definitely worth checking out. Should you lose power but not need to evacuate, it’s also worth visiting our post on 35 tips for preparing to lose power — and what to do after it happens, along with our Cool Mom Eats post about what’s safe to eat after losing power.
But in an effort to provide a more comprehensive to-do list for worst-case scenarios, I’m reposting this outstanding list of tips that’s been going around my Facebook feed this week with some light editing. (Thanks Corina and Ilina!)
I should note that this doesn’t seem like it was created by someone who’s got young children, so by all means, adapt it for your own family situation. Also, not all of these may be necessary or relevant to you, but it can’t hurt to go through them all so you can make decisions about storm preparedness that are best for you and your family.
Top photo: NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center
Tips for getting prepared and staying safe in a hurricane or storm
1. Charge any device that provides light. Laptops, tablets, cameras, video cameras, even old phones which can still be used for dialing 911 if they have a SIM card. Charge all portable batteries.
(One of my favorites is the Jackery which is affordable, not too big, and still holds a huge charge.)
2. Wash all trash cans, big and small, and fill with water for flushing toilets. Line outdoor trash cans with trash bags, fill with water and store in the garage. Add bleach to sterilize.
3. Fill every tub and sink with water. Cover sinks with plastic wrap to keep the basins from collecting dust. Fill your washing machine and leave the lid up to store water.
4. Fill old empty water bottles and other containers with water and keep near sinks for washing hands. Store water-filled trash cans next to toilets for flushing.
5. Fill every reusable container with water and store as many in the freezer as you can fit. These will help keep food cold longer and serve as a backup water supply should you need it. Keep in mind that you should estimate you’ll need about a gallon of water per day — per person.
6. Fill drinking cups with water and cover with plastic wrap, storing many as possible in the fridge without filling it up. The rest you can store on the counter and use first before any water bottles are opened. Ice is impossible to find after a storm.
Tip: One trick is to freeze a cup of water, and place a coin on top after it is frozen. This will help you gauge the freezer temperature if the power goes out — if the coin falls into the water, the freezer has thawed out (even if you can’t tell from looking at the food) and most food will likely need to be thrown away.
7. Do a quick pantry and refrigerator check, tossing any expiring food. It will also help you reserve some fridge space for storing tap water, though keep your sealed water bottles on the counter.
8. Cook any meat or other perishable foods in advance. You can always freeze cooked food, but raw meats will go bad quickly. Also hard boil eggs for snacks for first day without power. (The American Egg Board suggests hard-boiled eggs last for one week refrigerated, but without refrigeration, within a few hours.) And stock up on non-perishable canned goods and foods (and be sure you have a manual can opener!)
9. Make sure you’re well-hydrated before the storm hits — drink water, but also avoid salty foods and alcohol. (Sorry!) Fruits and veggies are a better choice.
10. Wash all dirty clothes and bed sheets if you can. Without air conditioning, dirty items will smell, you’ll sweat more, and you may want to change clothes more often. Also consider showering or bathing the kids just before the storm is scheduled to hit.
11. Clean cat litter boxes, and empty all trash cans in the house including bathrooms. Mop floors and vacuum. Remove anything that will cause an odor when your power is out. If you don’t have a trash day pickup before the storm, find a dumpster. Consider scrubbing your bathrooms as well.
12. Run your dishwasher, don’t risk having dirty smelly dishes — plus you’ll want every available clean container for water.
13. Bring in any yard decor or toys, and secure anything that will fly around including gates. Bring in hoses, potted plants, door mats, patio furniture and grills.
14. Gather all candles, flashlights, lighters, matches, batteries, and other items and keep them accessible.
15. Gather everything you own that is important and necessary in a go-bag, like a backpack or small file box that is easy to grab. This means your wallet with ID, passport, birth certificate and other important documents, which you should keep in sealed plastic baggies. Write down any important phone numbers that may only be stored on your phone.
16. Also include your phone, chargers and cords, hand sanitizer, snacks for kids, toys or pads to keep them engaged, and lots of extra plastic bags.
Let your kids each pack their own small bag as well, with snacks, toys, and a lovey or special stuffed animal. It will help them feel more empowered and prepared.
17. Don’t forget medications! Most insurance companies allow for two emergency refills per year (like when a State of Emergency is officially declared by the local or federal government) so grab extra if you can. You can also research your insurance company’s “drug exception process.”
18. Make sure you have cash on hand. If power goes out, no ATMs will be available, credit card machines go down, and shops that do happen to be open may only be accepting cash.
19. Gas up your car! Also have a spare gas container for your generator or your car when you run out. And be sure to have car adapters for your electronics — it may be your only way to charge devices if you lose power in your home.
20. If you use them, fill your propane tanks for heating soup, boiling water, making coffee, and cooking off meat. Get an extra, if possible. Be sure it’s stored safely!
21. Lower your air-conditioning temperature in advance and lower temperatures in your fridge and freezer so they stay colder, longer.
22. However if the storm hits, unplug all electronics. There will be power surges during and after the storm.
23. Stock up on pet food and fill up bowls of water for pets.
24. Buy a product like Clorox Wipes in bulk for cleaning if there is no power. If you have kids (or even if you don’t), pre-moistened baby wipes are a great idea too to keep by the toilets. You can’t have too many. You may also want facial cleansing cloths. Just be sure not to flush any of them!
25. Designate an “emergency safe place” such as a closet under the stairs. Store any essential items you’ll need in that location for the brunt of the storm.
26. If you’re near an evacuation area, consider keeping a small suitcase in your car should you decide last minute that you need to go. Also keep at least one gallon jug of water in your car. It will still be there if you don’t evacuate. Also remember to pack enough for pets.
27. Make sure kids are familiar with any emergency plans or escape routes — not to scare them, but to make them feel more confident and prepared.
28. Check on family members and don’t forget elderly neighbors.
29. If evacuating, even if you only think it’s for a night or two, please please take your pets with you!
30. Consider rearranging your living area or entrance area to give you clear, easy escape routes. Even if that means temporarily moving furniture to one side.
31. One of our top tech tips is to take photos and video of your house and contents should you need it for insurance purposes to document proof of ownership. Just walk room to room, and be sure to open cabinets, drawers and closets. Don’t rely on memory!
32. Also take pictures of all your important documents, so even if something does happen to them, you’ll have a visual record.
33. Finally, if there’s anything that you want to try and preserve, but can’t take with you, seal it in a plastic bin and stash in your closed dishwasher to make it water-tight. But of course, take anything that’s important or irreplaceable with you.
Yes, I know this is a very detailed list. And you may not want to spend your time (or be able to spend your time) scrubbing down your bathroom or doing loads of laundry, particularly if you’ve got kids to take care of. So don’t panic. Just use this as a helpful set of guidelines to allow you to pick and choose what you think will best help you.
Most of all, stay safe everyone!
(If you have any tips, please feel free to share them in comments for our readers. And if you created this list to begin with, let us know so we can give you credit!)