day 3: things you may not think of when preparing for a hurricane

Welcome back to Hurricane Preparedness Week! I hope everyone is doing well. We actually had measurable rain yesterday for the first time in like 6 weeks. When you live in a tropical area you do not think you will have weeks without rain, but it happens, especially the last 5 years or so. You may see affiliate links in this post.

Today, I want to discuss some things you may not think of when preparing for a Tropical System. Whether you are evacuating, or staying put, food and water are not the only concerns though those seem to be what people are most concerned with. I know you may not think of some of these, because we didn’t until we had to.

  1. Shelter. Obviously if you stay in your home it will be your shelter, but it can become very dangerous. You need to be prepared in case you end up with broken windows or a hole in your roof from a tree. Plywood is very expensive right now, but if you can purchase some and store it in case you need it, it would be a good idea. Plastic garbage bags secured with tape can be a temporary fix for a broken window. Shutters over windows are a great option if you have them, or can afford to have them installed. A large tarp, we just bought one last year, can cover a hole in a roof until it can be repaired. We also purchased a large tent at a yard sale. We were sure to put it together to be sure all the parts were there. When we evacuated we took it with us. With 3 dogs we were not sure if we would be able to find a motel that would take three dogs, so it was a safety net for us.
  2. Money. If you stay behind and weather the storm, you will need cold hard cash because the chances of the power being out is almost 100% if the storm goes over you. The ATM will not work, and businesses may not have generators. You will need cash. If you evacuate you may want to have a little cash on hand, and a debit or credit card. When we came back the power outages were extensive and we had to use cash up to 2 hours from our home for things like gas.
  3. Pets. Plan for your pets. What will you do with them if you have to evacuate, or stay? There are shelters and places they can be boarded. This can be very expensive and you may not get a spot. When we evacuated we called ahead to where we were going and we were assured they took pets. When we arrived at the destination and they saw we had a big dog, albeit a friendly dog, they said they did not take pets. This put us in quite a pickle, and I was unsure what to do as all the other motels were full. We actually ended up staying a night in a not so nice motel, but they let us have all three dogs and did not charge us extra for them. I was very grateful indeed. Make sure you always have at least 3 days of food, water, and medication for your pets. Please, don’t leave your pets behind to fend for themselves, or tie them to a tree. They may drown because they can’t get away. Domesticated animals have no idea how to survive once humans started doing everything for them. This is cruel and inhumane. I would have slept in my car with my kids, and dogs, rather than abandon them. If we are sheltering in place for a storm all leashes, harnesses, and muzzles if necessary are all kept in one spot for easy access. Also, when traveling with pets consider that others may not be as prepared, or responsible as you. We actually had a dog jump out of the back of a pickup because it was unsecured, and charged my son and dog. Thank goodness no one got injured. Practice with your pets getting into a vehicle quickly, and riding manners.
  4. Too much water. Rain and flooding are huge concerns with tropical systems. You can get feet of water. We have had water come right up to the top of the porch. We are now zoned for a flood zone which is why we had to evacuate in 2017. Our home has never flooded. thank goodness. One thing we have not yet purchased, but sits in the back of my mind, is some kind of small boat, or other floating device. Children, elderly and pets can all become quickly fatigued if you have to leave your home due to too much water. Walking in fast moving water is tiring, and dangerous. I would like a small boat to keep in storage if we ever need it. So far we have not found one to fit our budget. Like snow, in the north, heavy rains can weigh down tree branches causing them to hang very low, or even break. Keep the trees over your home, buildings, and power lines trimmed so they can not cause damage. Learn how to trim trees properly so they are not lopsided causing them to be off balance. Standing water will bring mold, pests, and bacteria. Remove it as quickly as possible.
  5. Have a plan. Make sure everyone in your house knows the plan. If you evacuate you can follow the evacuation routes, but I found those to be flooded with slow moving traffic. We used our GPS and went around all that nonsense. Move away from the storm, and watch to be sure the track does not change. Do not settle in until you are sure of the path. Make sure you have gas before you leave. Trust me when I say gas will run out and you can become stranded.
  6. Heat and humidity. Often when the storm is coming it is somewhat cooler. However, once the storm has gone over the heat and humidity is unbearable. You will need a way to keep cool, especially without power. Yes, Walmart and McDonalds had generators but you can only hang out there just so long before they ask you to leave. We had no power for a full 7 days the year we evacuated. It was brutal mostly at night when you want to sleep. We do have a pool and have for most of the years we have been in Florida. The pool is invaluable, and I recommend everyone have one even if it is small. The investment is priceless. Something else we have, that I didn’t realize for years until we had a huge water leak and had to turn off our water for a few days, is that the outside hose actually has it’s own water source not the same as the indoor water supply. This means I can wash dishes, have clean drinking water, wash clothes, flush toilets, and yes cool off. If you can do this at your house, do it. Whoever owned the house before us had insight enough to do this. If you have a local spring, river, or other swimming area it will probably be your new home for a few days.
  7. Documents. You need to be sure and take photos of all of your valuables in and around your home. If you need to file a claim trust me you need them. Store them on a flash drive, and take it with you. We carry important documents in a fire and water proof safe, however, taking photos and putting them on a flash drive is much easier to transport. Because most organizations will need a hard copy, or original of most documents, you still need to keep them secure and safe. Have important numbers easy to access.
  8. Humans. People do weird things when they are scared, or panicked. They are also quite dirty, and gross. They will be in such a rush that they will leave garbage, and other gross things in bathrooms. I could not believe how disgusting the bathrooms were when we evacuated from people in such a hurry. People also will hoard, or panic buy everything in site even when they do not need the amount they buy. You have to be prepared for human reactions. Buy in small increments in the planning stage, but don’t overbuy. Take notice of human behaviors and how people act when they are scared, or in a rush. Don’t forget about PPE. There is still a pandemic after all.
  9. Misc. Basic first aid supplies, basic tools like a hand saw, hammer, rope, nails, etc. Garbage bags for collecting rain water, or to wear as a rain coat. Walmart bags make great shoe inserts or covers, or a rain hat. Bins, or other large containers to collect rain water. Bug spray, anti itch spray, solar lights from the Dollar Tree charged and ready to be brought indoors in place of burning candles. Matches, chargers, ziploc bags to put electronic devices in to keep safe from water. A way to get weather and news updates. Keep in touch with neighbors, the elderly, and family.

Be sure and check out days 1 and 2 in the archives.

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