How to prepare for a Hurricane

“Is a hurricane a-blowing?”

Excuse me while I go watch Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder’s, of course) because I now have the song from the boat ride in my head. Okay then. Really folks, hurricanes are serious business. And with yesterday being the official start to hurricane season, I thought this post was timely. The thing I like best about a hurricane is that you can watch it coming for days and make a plan – unlike tornadoes and earthquakes which scare this Florida girl. If you live in an area that even has a remote chance of being hit, you should probably be prepared.

On track

So, the weather people told you a hurricane might be coming in a few days. Friend, it might be time to start stocking up on bottled water & nonperishable food. Are you on any medications? Make sure you have an ample supply. Having some first aid supplies and ways to cook your food may also come in handy. You may also want to think about your plan for power outages. Do you have backup batteries, candles, flashlights, phone chargers, etc? Check out this list of things you might need I found on Phone numbers to places like local/county law enforcement, utilities, insurance agents & whatnot may also be needed. Now is a good time to go over any evacuation or staying in place plans you have with your loved ones. If your plan is to evacuate, do so as soon as possible. Waiting until the very last minute isn’t fun times for anyone.

A day or 2 day before

If the storm hasn’t changed its course, you might want to gather the items you may need as soon as possible because the stores will be running low soon, if they aren’t already. While you’re out, fill up your gas tank. It’s a good time to check the outside of your home. Do you have storm shutters? If not, you might want to try to get some plywood for your windows. Try to clear your yard of any debris that may become a projectile. Anything from downed tree limbs to patio furniture has to go, or be secured. I’m pretty sure you don’t want your lawn furniture to fly through a window at 65+ MPH. Oh, and get some cash. Trust me.

Only a few hours to go

This is your chance to charge any devices and be where you intend to stay. If you’re at home, turn your freezer & fridge to the coldest setting to try to save your food. I also learned a fun trick – freeze a small cup of water & place a coin on top. If you later find the coin frozen at the bottom of the cup, you’ll know things thawed & you may want to rethink keeping that food. Of course, I learned that trick after my last hurricane experience. Double check all the things & keep up with the news as best you can. It’s possible your power could go out before the storm “officially” makes landfall. This is where your cell phone or battery-powered radio comes in handy. You’ll still be informed about important updates.


All of the above are some super basic things you can do to weather the storm and probably shouldn’t be taken as a comprehensive list. I’ve been lucky. I’ve lived in FL my whole life and in that 30 something years, have never been in an area with major hurricane damage. The storms have all either turned (anywhere from days before to hours before landfall) or they’ve weakened. Until 2016, a hurricane hadn’t made landfall in FL since 2005.


Story time!

Hermine was a Category 1 storm that made landfall in FL in the early hours of 9/2/16 about 70ish miles from where I am. Many didn’t take the threat seriously. The guy and I were able to get off work at noon the day before landfall. We went to the store to buy water & a few other things we might need. We didn’t see many others buying those things. When we got home, we did what we could on the back porch (we live in a duplex with no garage) to prepare. Items we couldn’t bring inside, we tried to keep in the corner to lower the chances of them blowing away. We spent the rest of the day hanging out & watching movies. Around midnight, there were reports that 35,000 people in town were without power. Hermine was still offshore.

Power’s out

We didn’t lose power until later, sometime in the early morning. Later, there were reports of widespread power outages & trees down. I didn’t think we’d be without power long. That day I was looking at it like a super fun adventure. Even though it was hot (heat indexes were 100+) & humid outside, inside wasn’t too bad. The 2nd day I was still having fun. We had some canned fuel so we were able to heat things up to eat. Some stores had power back (or were running on generators) and had ice. Things in the freezer still felt mostly frozen but we weren’t sure how long they’d stay that way. We got ice & then spent a couple of hours with family across town who got power back the night before. When we got home, it was almost as hot & humid inside as out. Sleeping was rough.

This isn’t fun anymore

The 3rd day I was getting moody. Being hot makes me cranky. We left the house & did random things but a lot of places were still closed and without power. That night the kid & I ended up staying with family because we weren’t really feeling the no A/C thing. The guy decided to stay home to get a head start on cleaning out the fridge if the power came back. It didn’t. The 4th day was the kid’s 16th birthday. And Labor Day, so no work or school. We decided to get a hotel room for the night. The 5th day we went to work (but school was canceled). After work, we went home to check on things. Power was back. Finally.


So what did we learn after being without power from early Friday morning until Tuesday afternoon? A few things. One of them was to have cash. A few times we ran into the problems of card machines being down in the places that were actually open. We learned that just because we know the traffic laws, others do not. Whenever we left home, it was chaos. Seriously, y’all. Stay home if you can. While we had enough random food and water, we didn’t really have a plan for meals. Next time, I’d have a better plan/way to cook. I feel like the guy and I were decently prepared for the actual storm itself, but I think all of us (city/local government/utilities included) could have been better prepared in the aftermath.

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