This year has been absolutely nuts. For those of us who live in Florida, Louisana, and Texas, most of us feel like we’re preparing for level 7 of Jumanji. Of course, we’ve got storm prep on our minds.
Preparing your home inside and out for a powerful storm is very important.
We’re all worried about this year’s hurricane season. Especially, since they are forecasting a more active than normal season!
A couple of years ago, our property was hit by Hurricane Michael, which was a Category 5. The worst devastation happened just 20-30 minutes from us. So many people lost their homes and continue to live in tiny houses, since that’s all they could afford after the storm. I suppose it’s better than nothing. However, Mexico beach and Panama City beach may never be the same.
An important part of preparing for a storm is having a backup water supply. In case of an emergency where you don’t have water, you’ll need water for drinking, flushing toilets, and cooking.
First things first. You need to know whether or not a hurricane will be coming towards you. Tracking a hurricane’s path is getting better with technology. However, it’s best to be prepare before hurricane season even begins.
Watch the news and good hurricane tracking websites such as The National Hurricane Center for the best up-to-date information. You can also download the Red Cross or other apps to help you keep track of the weather.
It’s important to note that you should prepare what you can for hurricane season in general and not just for a hurricane that’s already in motion. Being prepared ahead of time will give you more time to do things like board up your windows, place sandbags, take outdoor furniture inside and more.
Important Things To Do Immediately
You know as well as I, that the gas stations will be backed up into the roadways. So, as soon as you can run up to the gas station and fill up your cans and your vehicles.
Most people like to drop by the store to pick up essentials like bread, milk, and water.
While you’re out grab some cash from the bank. With power outages, card machines don’t work and many stores rely on cash only.
Pack! Whether you think you will be evacuating or not. Make sure you are ready to evacuate regardless! I’ll have a printable list for you later on in this post.
Prep The Outside Of Your Home For A Storm
If you’re lucky enough to have storm shutters on your home, you can skip boarding up your windows. However, if not, you should probably get to the store well before a storm comes and buy some plywood. Enough to cover all or most of your windows.
As you know, in 2020 supplies have been dwindling down with a few items. When it comes to plywood during a threatening hurricane, it’s most likely that it will run out sooner rather than later. So, make sure you get over to the store A.S.A.P.
Plywood has a 30% stronger impact strength than OSB. Insurance companies suggest that you use 5/8 thick exterior-grade (CDX) plywood as a minimum.
To Board Up Windows:
It’s suggested that you board up windows and doors before the wind comes your way. Plywood can act as a sail. They can be picked up by the wind, and do some real damage to your house and the rest of your property.
- Firstly, find the studs and mark their location, on each side and underneath your windows.
- Cut each piece of wood to overhang about an inch over the frame of the window.
- Paint an arrow, and a number on each piece to denote which window it fits to, and which way is up.
- Corrosion-resistant screws that are 2 inches into the framing are important for a good solid hold. Galvanized pan-head or lags (flat-bottomed heads) are best.
- Grab a friend to help hold the panel in place while you drill holes for the screws. Drill holes every 16 inches, keeping each hole at least an inch away fron the edge of the plywood.
Storm Prep By Placing Sandbags Around Your Home
If you suspect that your home maybe subject to flooding, you may think about adding some sandbags to your property. Sometimes cities will hand out free sand bags. Or they might host a “fill your own sandbag” for free event. Otherwise, check your local hardware store to buy sandbags.
Storm Prep By Cleaning Out Your Gutters
It’s possible your gutters may get backed up during a storm. However, clean gutters are made to move water away from your home, and help protect your roof from unessecarry clutter or tree litter.
If you have time, it’s smart to clean out your gutters to help direct the traffic of heavy rains where you want them to go.
Storm Prep By Securing Outdoor Items
Anything that’s outside needs to be secured or brought inside a structure. For example, we move loose items up against the house under the carport, and away from the wind, so it doesn’t blow around.
Take any garbage to the dump. Why is this important? You don’t want the wind to pick up anything and throw it against your home. An important part of storm prep is preventing storm damage.
If you have a shed where you can store things, store them there. However, be sure to strap down your shed if it’s a lightweight building.
Bring These Items Inside Or Place In Shed | Storm Prep
- Outdoor furniture, including those on a covered porch! The wind can pick them up and slam into your house or screens.
- Dog house
- Lawnmower and other equipment
- Animal feed buckets
- Garbage cans
- Signs, like metal signs ( or make sure to secure them very well)
- Anything else laying around outside
Storm Prep Indoors | If Evacuation Is Eminent
- Unplug electronics such as T.V.s, computers, and other small appliances. Keep fridge and freezers plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding.
- Elevate important items and electronics in case of flooding.
- Close and lock all doors and windows.
- Shut off water, gas, and electricity before leaving.
- Gather your important papers. Birth certificates, social security cards, home insurance, car insurance, It’s also nice to have account numbers for all of your bills so that you can call and ask about your bills.
- Charge devices – Charge your phones and other devices.
- Pack a bug out bag for each family member.
- Collect food items that don’t require cooking from your pantry. Such as canned beans, vegetables. Also, take some snacks with you. See more about non-perishable food list and Non-Food Items To Stockpile
- Pack your pillows and blankets.
- If you have home insurance make sure to read and understand those policies. You may need to walk through each room and take a picture of all of your belongings. Even your clothes!
Determine Whether to Evacuate or Not
It’s possible to shelter in place during a hurricane. However, you’ve really got to be smart about this decision. There are many variables to think about.
Note: Please don’t leave your pets behind! Include them in your preps! Check out my Preps For Pets post, to make sure you have everything they need also. There are some shelters that help you care for your animals while evacuating. You may need a pet crate, copies of veterinary records, a leash and collar, pet ID tags, food, waste bags, and medicine.
If your property is under evacuation orders, it’s a good idea to evacuate. Don’t risk it! Get out, and do it as soon as possible!
If you’re worried about money, find an emergency shelter near you. They are typically free to the public.
Evacuating can be a difficult life or death decision. If you live in a mobile or manufactured home or a home made before
Tips For Evacuating | Make An Evacuation Plan
You can also download the FEMA app for a list of shelters during an active hurricane or other disaster.
Keep track of the storm on the go. As you know cell phone towers are typically taken out during a large storm. It’s a smart idea to have an emergency radio.
I prefer a simple radio, since the crank and solar powered radios have such terrible reviews and don’t seem to be a good alternate power supply. Just be sure to bring some batteries.
Leave early to avoid traffic and being trapped by severe weather!
Pack a bug out bag! Yes, you do need a bug out bag in an emergency situation. Check out my Vehicle BOB (bug out bag) list. If you’re on a budget check out my Dollar Tree BOB list. Last but not least, check out the Amazon Bug out Bag List!
Create An Evacuation Plan
- Decide on a meeting place in case anyone gets lost.
- Designated Contact – Designate someone in your family to relay information about your location and well being. Let them know where you are going before you leave.
- Decide on a communication plan. In case you get split up, know how you will communicate and have a backup plan. This could include, calls, texts, Red Cross app, etc…
- Create emergency cards – Include important phone numbers of family members and emergency numbers. Address of meeting place and phone number.
- Pack an emergency bag for everyone.
- Make a plan for your pets!
- Pick a route.
- Pick an alternative route in case of heavy traffic.
- Pack food, water, change of clothes, snacks, pillows, blankets, etc… (see my free printable at the bottom of the post for more suggestions.)
- Make sure you have an emergency car kit – Including jumper cables, towline, gas can, road maps, first aid kit, and other helpful supplies.
Public Shelter Tips (2020)
With all of the stuff we have going on this year, you may need some special supplies. Such as a mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, and other cleaning supplies. You can also make a makeshift sink with an empty laundry detergent bottle. Fill it with water, and bring a foam soap dispenser to be able to have a real hand washing station!
Also remember to try and keep a distance of 6 feet from strangers. However, it’s okay to keep your family close.
Expect overcrowding. Expect supplies to not be up to par and meet demand. Bring with you what you can!
If you or a loved one has special needs, you can pre-register for a special needs shelter at:
Important Items to Bring To A Public Shelter
- Toilet paper
- Shampoo, conditioner, lotion
- Hand Sanitizer
- Makeshift sink & foam soap (as described above)
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Battery-powered lantern
- Protein bars
- MREs or Ready to Eat Meals or Freeze Dried Meals and a small propane stove
- Canned food that can be eaten without heating. Such as beans, and vegetables.
- Manual can opener
- Entertainment – such as playing cards, board games, books, etc…
How To Shelter In Place
Sometimes it’s necessary to shelter in place. Such as when you don’t have much warning of a disaster. If local officials say to shelter in place, you should definitely do so. However, you should listen carefully to the directions, because they can vary for different emergency situations.
General directions for staying in place may include:
Get Inside and stay inside – It’s also a good idea to bring in dogs that may live outside. To see what to do with chickens, goat, and other livestock check out Hurricane Preparedness on The Homestead.
In addition, prepare a pet crate or other place where your animals will be able to poop and pee. If you don’t have a crate, put down newspapers, a plastic bag, and having cleaning supplies ready to use.
Find a safe place – Depending on the emergency this may vary. Typically, you’ll want to find a room with no outside walls, and no windows.
Bring snacks, entertainment like playing cards, your phone, a whistle, emergency radio, a signaling mirror, battery powered lanterns and/or candles, and water.
If you’re told to “seal the room” you’ll need to stop outside air from coming in.
- Turn off fans and air conditioners
- Use towels or blankets to block the air from entering the room. Including door jams, windows, and vents.
Do not venture outside until officials have said it’s okay to do so. Remember to watch for downed power lines and other dangers in some emergencies.
Mark Yourself Safe & Stay In Touch With Family
It’s important to have a designated emergency contact. Maybe a family member that can tell the rest of your family and friends that your ok.
You can also use a Red Cross app to mark yourself safe. You can also use these apps to check on the conditions of your local area.
Of course, now Facebook allows you to mark yourself safe there too. It’s a great way to tell everyone you’re ok.
It’s important to note that if you plan to evacuate, make sure to tell someone where you are going, and how to get in touch with you.
Prepare Your Homestead And Animals
For information on how to prepare your homestead for a disaster like a a hurricane and to find out what to do with your animals and more visit Hurricane Preparedness for The Homestead.
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