Sometimes, we get a lot of warning before a storm. That is the time we need to prepare and plan. It is better to be prepared and not need to take action on any of those plans than to be in a situation where we made things worse by not being prepared.
Preparation is the difference between a crisis and an inconvenience.
If it develops, Invest 92L will be Tropical Storm (then Hurricane) Isaias.
Yes, a name that is difficult to pronounce may just be the name that everyone will learn to pronounce over the next few days.
The nice thing about a Hurricane is that we have about a week’s notice before we need to prepare for direct or indirect impact. This is not a time to panic, but it is time to prepare. you need information. Reliable information, not hype or panic-inducing information. Personally, I follow our local meteorologists as well as the NOAA NHS National Hurricane Center. I have the Facebook page set up to see these notifications first. I also have three weather apps on my phone – the local weather station, HurricaneTracker, and Hurricanes. You should know that I am a weather enthusiast and I love getting data from different reliable sources! Updates are posted periodically throughout the day on a schedule which is also helpful.
2. INVENTORY CHECK
There are a lot of supplies you need to ride out a Hurricane. Many of them can be found HERE. BEFORE you go out and buy anything, check your inventory and make a list of what you already have. We keep our Hurricane supplies in a plastic tote in the closet so it’s easy to check the inventory. We keep batteries and flashlights in a certain place in the house as well. Having supplies organized in specific locations makes inventory easy. You should use the list mentioned above to make a customized list for your family.
You also need a household inventory of your personal possessions for insurance purposes.
Once you know what you need, go buy them. Get what you need. Don’t wait until the last minute. Keep in mind that there are other people who also need the same supplies as you.
4. FOOD AND WATER
Non-perishable food is what you need. Things like: Rice, pastas, cereal, canned veggies, canned fruit, canned meat. You can fill water bottles and containers OR buy bottled.
Generally, I like to have enough food for the four of us for two weeks. That’s two weeks of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for four adults. Think that through. Think about what a meal plan will look like. Think about what you can use for cooking – a camp stove, a grill. Make sure you have fuel for a camp stove, charcoal for the grill and pots/pans for cooking outside as well.
Don’t forget your pets! Make sure they have enough food, treats, meds, etc as well.
5. A PLAN
You need two plans: a plan to stay and a plan to leave.
Both need to be ready to implement at a moment’s notice.
If you are staying, make sure all of the preparations are in place for you to stay. You need to be as self-reliant as possible.
If you are leaving, make sure you have secured lodging, know what you are taking with you, and know that you may not be able to get home right away.
We have lived in SE NC since 2001 and I have only evacuated for one Hurricane – Hurricane Florence. I had every intention of staying and had prepared for that EXCEPT that the situation changed – Florence was fore-cast to hit us as a Category 4 storm. We had a place to evacuate to – family that had a house in the mountains of NC – and we could leave, so we chose to go. Choosing to leave is not an easy decision. Nor is choosing to stay.
If you evacuate, you MUST leave early enough to avoid traffic. We left three days prior to the Hurricane’s arrival and did run into a few traffic glitches along the way – mostly from DOT putting cones out to reverse the lanes of traffic. (ALL lanes of traffic are changed to OUTBOUND lanes during a storm evacuation).
6. INSURANCE INVENTORY
Make sure your homeowners, wind and hail, flood, car insurance, and yes, even life insurance are up to date before the storm. Find your declarations page and other paperwork and put it in a safe place. Make sure another adult in your life has a copy or access to this information. Program phone numbers in your phone to local providers for home maintenance that you may need after the storm. Have a few different people in each category that you can call.
Make sure you have all of your personal possessions documented for insurance purposes.
How much are your deductibles? You need to know that information AND have the money to pay them if needed.
7. POWER OUTAGE PLANNING
This is an important step, especially if you have kids.
First, make preparations for the power to go out. Board games, decks of cards, and books are all great activities for a power outage. Talk to your kids about what it looks like to have no power. Yes, you can use portable battery chargers and yes you could use the car to charge phones and iPads but you want to use that sparingly. Unplug things that aren’t necessary to have on during the storm.
WHEN the power goes out, unplug everything from the outlets. This will prevent a surge of electricity from going through when the power returns. If you can, turn the breakers off for things like the HVAC. One power is restored, you can turn things back on one at a time.
If you have a generator, make sure you have enough gas BEFORE the storm. Also, now is a good time to test your generator and make sure you have a safe place OUTSIDE to put it in case you need to use it.
Make sure you have the phone number to report an outage pre-programmed in your phone. Don’t assume someone else will report the outage.
8. SHARE INFORMATION
Have you been through a Hurricane before? What was helpful to you?
Share that. What is helpful to you, is helpful to someone else.
One thing I didn’t think about doing when we evacuated for Hurricane Florence was to give our neighbor a key to our house. My husband ended up getting stuck at work and our house sat empty and unchecked for four days. LUCKILY, there wasn’t any damage that needed immediate attention but it did cause me some unnecessary stress. Lesson learned.
Also, I should have taken the meat that was in our freezer with us when we left. It would have been fine in a cooler during our trip and we wouldn’t have had to throw it away. Lesson learned.
9. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can’t think straight when there is something BIG I need to prepare for. This is where I have “lists for my lists”.
Storm prep checklist (indoor and outdoor prep)
Food and water checklist (with a meal plan)
Phone number list
Staying home checklist.
Yes, I know it’s a lot but it’s helpful to me to have a checklist, so I don’t forget anything.
10. STAY CALM
It’s super easy to get caught up in the panic and anxiety associated with a storm. I get it. Here’s the thing: gather the information, make decisions.
Understand that you are making the best decision, given the information you have at the time for you and your family. Ignore the criticism.
Storms don’t last forever. They come and go and we deal with the aftermath.
Preparation is an important part of weathering a storm. These steps are not all-inclusive – there’s plenty of checklists online for almost every scenario. The most important thing is that NOW is the time to start preparations.
Be ready. Be prepared. Stay safe.