Potentially coming our way is the worst hurricane in Atlantic history, Hurricane Irma. At the writing of this post, she is a Category 5 and the damage she has left behind so far is devastating. Although there is a great possibility the storm will downgrade in severity prior to hitting the Midlands, it is still very important to be prepared. Mother Nature is vastly unpredictable and at this point we are unsure of the impact Irma will have on us.
I grew up with a mother who was obsessive with being storm prepared. In my hometown, the Poconos of Pennsylvania, we rarely saw hurricane type weather (though Sandy definitely did a number on us in the North East). However, my mother always made sure we were stocked prior to any blizzard or severe storm warning. My husband often laughs when he sees me preparing for large storms, and I laugh as well, knowing how proud my mom would be of me.
What You Need :: Stocking Up Before the Storm
Being prepared for a storm is more than just buying bread and water. You need to be stocked up and ready to go with many things – several you may not have considered.
- Make sure to stock up on cases and gallons of water. Should you lose power, potable water will be unavailable. It is recommended you have enough potable water to survive 2 weeks without electricity.
- Fill up bathtubs with water. This will allow you to flush your toilet should you lose electricity. You can also use it to wash dishes or wipe down a mess with a damp cloth.
- Fill up any containers you have available. These will act as potable water for cooking, hand washing, and additional water if necessary.
- Fill gallon ice bags with ice and potable water and FREEZE. This will help keep the temperature cold in your refrigerator if you lose electricity. Remember to move some of the ice bags from the freezer to the refrigerator should the power go out.
- Ensure your animals have plenty of water in their dishes. Should they need additional, you can use some water from your potable supply. Be sure to consider your animals’ needs when preparing your potable water.
- Loss of power during severe storms is common. Be sure to stock up on batteries. You’re better off having too many than not enough. And be sure to have a variety available as many flashlights and various devices will require different batteries.
- Prior to severe weather, be sure to charge up all electronic devices and maintain full charge whenever possible. If you lose power, you do not want to be without these items.
- Back up batteries. If you have access to back up batteries, be sure they are all charged and ready to go.
Flashlights and Candles
- Have an assortment of flashlights at your disposal. We like to have at least one small and one large flashlight per person in our home as well as a lantern for when we need larger light.
- An assortment of candles will provide additional lighting. We place these in various spots in our home WITH either a lighter or matchbook directly next to them. Regardless of where we are in our home, we have instant access to a light source. Candles provide a benefit of light without the fear of the source going dead. Candles are relatively cheap and tend to last for long periods of time. HOWEVER – if you use candles, be sure to keep the flame away from children (including matchbooks and lighters) and extinguish them prior to sleeping.
- You want to be able to cook during an emergency. Having extra gas and propane will allow you to do so, especially if there is a power outage. Be sure to have some sort of cooking device that runs off something besides electricity or natural gas in case these are not available to you as a result of damage from the storm.
- DO NOT cook on your grill in your garage. I know during emergencies the last place you want to be is outside, but you also don’t want any additional catastrophes to happen.
- Be sure to stop and fill up your gas tanks a head of time. It’s better to have a full tank than have to find a gas station without long lines and possibly have the gas station run out before you can get the gas.
- Refill prescriptions. This is especially important if you live with someone on specific medications and/or oxygen. Be sure you have a supply in case you are not able to get the a pharmacy for a few days.
- Make sure you have a stocked and up-to-date First Aid Kit including saline, pain relievers, bandaids, bandages, aloe, creams, etc. These should be within a short distance of where you are hunkering down. Accidents happen and it may be difficult to get to a medical treatment facility.
- Foods that will not spoil will be especially crucial during this time. Pasta, breads, canned goods, fresh fruits and veggies, and dry goods are all perfect stock items during severe weather (just make sure the cans are easy to open or you have a manual can opener). Because I have kids, I also stock up on snack foods and juice boxes that I know they enjoy. Storms are scary, and sometimes a yummy snack will help calm some fears.
- Cash is the easiest way to purchase necessities in case of an emergency. Even if it is a small amount of cash, cash is always king. If the electricity is out, you will not be able to use a debit/credit card to make purchases. Make plans to stop by an ATM before the storm.
Getting Your Home and Family Ready
Now that you are all stocked up, it’s time to actually get ready for the impending weather. Starting earlier will help keep your stress lower as the storm heads your way.
- Pack up all valuable documents (passports, ideas, CASH, birth certificates, etc) in a safe place. I use gallon sized plastic zip bags to hold all these important papers and store them in a backpack. Should we need to evacuate, I already have the important documents packed and ready to go.
- Strategically place candles and flashlights throughout the house to ensure easy access to light when needed.
- Bring anything that could potentially fly away inside or be sure it is secure. Objects like chairs, tables, grills, decorations can easily become hazards in high wind. My neighbor’s trampoline went flying into another neighbor’s yard.
- Have extra blankets and pillows available in a “safe” spot in your home. Typically, this is the “strongest” part of the house where there are no windows and lots of structure.
- Wear shoes. Mom always made us keep on our shoes during a storm just in case we needed to get out quick.
- Each member of our family should have a backpack. Each backpack will have a flashlight, some snacks, water, a change of clothes, and anything else I deem necessary (like my important document baggie). My children’s will include their name, addresses, and our phone numbers just in case they become separated from us.
- Be prepared to evacuate. It may not be likely that we will be forced to evacuate, but you always want to be prepared.
In the coming days you will see a lot of people at the stores stocking up on similar items. There will be long lines, people grabbing for merchandise, and possible hostility. Remember, we are all scared of the possibility of this storm. Take a breath. Breathe deep. Understand we’re all in this together. Pushing, shoving, and bad temperaments provide nothing but aggravation, and that’s the last thing we need at a time like this. Above all else, stay safe and be prepared.