Right now, South Florida is waiting in suspense to see what Tropical Storm Erika is going to do. While it is still too early to say exactly where she will go, it is never too early to begin preparing for a potential storm.
As someone who experienced the intense hurricane season of 2004, I know it is better to be safe than sorry. Strong storms, like most of nature, are unpredictable. Most people will wait until the last minute to get supplies, and in situations such as this, waiting until just before the storm comes is often too late. Stores will run out of water and gas stations will run out of gas, and deliveries to areas that are either under evacuation or faced with a major storm threat will be suspended.
So beat the rush and make sure your family and home are ready just in case!
What To Do As Soon as Possible
Check to see what supplies you already have
Gather any flashlights, candles, and batteries you have in case the power goes out. Check the pantry to see what non-perishable food items you already have, such as canned food, chips, nuts, or fruit. Also see if you have bottles of water or other drinks that will be ok to drink unrefrigerated. Make sure you have a first-aid kit, and if you are taking medication, make sure you have a full supply or refill just in case you can’t get to the pharmacy for a week or longer. Don’t forget about your pets; make sure they have enough food and water to last too!
Shop for what you don’t have
Whenever you are in the “cone of concern,” it is a good idea to head to your local store ASAP and get what you need. It is unbelievable how fast places can sell out of important things such as water, and the place you want to be is in one of these stores when everyone else who waited is fighting over the last pack of batteries.
Fill up your car with gas
Filling up your car with gas is absolutely imperative. If the power is out, there is no gas. If an area is under storm warning, gas tankers will suspend their normal routes. If you have a gas grill, it is also a good idea to refill your propane tank if needed, so you will have a way to cook or boil water if the power goes out.
If you have a lot of windows, sliding glass doors, etc. and strong winds are predicted, purchase plywood from your local home improvement store and board up any windows. Do this whether you are staying in your home, or seeking shelter elsewhere. Don’t wait until the very last minute to do this, because it can take more time than you might think to do it right. If you are lucky enough to have storm shutters, put those babies down and batten down the hatches! Not only will boarding up protect you during the storm, it will also protect you after the storm, when unfortunately sometimes looting can become an issue.
Just Before the Storm
Charge your electronics
Make sure phones, computers, and tablets are charged. Though cell towers and WiFi may be impacted during the storm, charging them just before the storm hits is a good idea. At least throughout the storm you may have music and games available, and there’s always a chance the cell towers may be working so you can let loved ones know you’re ok.
Bring in anything that is not bolted down
Wind is a powerful force, and something that should not be tempted. Bring in any patio furniture, grills, garden gnomes, or anything else that can become a projectile object in tropical storm or hurricane force winds. Don’t take any chances!
Fill up your tub with water
Sometimes before a storm, a city will turn off the electricity or water systems for safety reasons. Before this happens, or before the storm takes these services out, fill up your tub or tubs with water. This will come in handy for bathing or washing things if necessary.
Prepare a “Hurricane Party” Room
For the brunt of the storm it is best to go in the center of your home that is on the first floor and has no windows. A laundry room or closet usually works best. Before the storm happens, make it comfy! Bring in a spare mattress or some bean bag chairs, put candles, flashlights, and water in there. Make yourself as comfy as possible to ride out the storm!
Preparing for the storm is key to maximize the safety of both you and your family. If you are ordered to evacuate, evacuate. If you live in a flood zone, maybe go to a shelter or to a hotel. Whatever you do, don’t take any chances, and don’t panic either! Also, don’t try and drive during a tropical storm or hurricane. Prepare a bag in case you need to leave suddenly, and put any prized possessions in a sealed plastic container or waterproof safe to protect them.
Be safe and smart!
For more information on storm prep, check out Ready.gov.