“You know you’re a real Floridian when you get annoyed that a storm has gone over Category 3 and now you have to care.”
Summer in Florida means beaches, sun, and sand. Don’t get too excited though because summer fun in the sunshine state also means it’s hurricane season. Unless you’re a native, the thought of a hurricane season can be absolutely terrifying and there’s good reason for it. With global warming, hurricane season has become more perilous for southern states with hurricanes causing states of emergencies. In 2017, hurricane Irma reached a size where it covered nearly the entire state of Florida! That’s 400+ miles! How do you get out of the way of that?
Now, the intent of this post is not to scare you but prepare you. Unfortunately, hurricane season extends well into fall, only ending in November. Even Florida natives can be blindsided with hormonal changes of weather during this season, but we are more familiar with the turbulent turns our summer days might take. Our days may start out all sun and shine only to be interrupted with afternoon thunderstorms for a few hours. Sometimes they come like clockwork or they abruptly strike like a lightning bolt in the sand. Basically, we must plan for half a year in one half of the year. Prepare for tracked storms and prepare for unexpected. This is what you need to survive hurricane season like a Florida native.
Lights, lights, and more lights
Make sure to have plenty of external lighting sources. These are lamps, flashlights, candles and the like. When the power goes out—because more than likely it will—you don’t want to be stuck in the dark. Prepare special places where you can remember and be able to reach flashlights quickly. It also helps to set out candles as the weather worsens with a supplied lighter.
External power and batteries
It may sound surprising, but it doesn’t take a lot to cause the power to go out. Be it Category 1 or 5, all it takes is a strong gust of wind, a stray lightning strike, or a weak fallen tree across power lines for the power to go bye-bye. In these cases, it’s the power outage that creates more damage than the actual storm. So be sure to have a generator and plenty of batteries. There are plenty of options for generators such as small and electric or large gas guzzlers. For batteries, it is important to have batteries for flashlights, but also battery back ups for computers, phones, tablets and the like.
Water from floor to ceiling
I cannot stress the importance of this essential enough. In the event of hurricanes hitting, water is a necessity. During and after hurricanes, water supply can become inaccessible or become contaminated from flooded drains and sewer systems. Water is needed for fluids, food, flushing toilets, washing... the list can go on. You can survive a few days without food—not water. Be sure to have plenty of bottled water, or store water in zip-loc bags in the freezer and in sanitized tubs. If you’d like, you can also have a water filtering system to work with the rainwater which can also be collected if the storm isn’t too treacherous.
You will need to have a good stock of disposable goods since refrigerated items are bound to spoil if the power goes out for an extended period of time. So, this is not only your canned goods, but dry or dehydrated food items. Be sure to store items like canned vegetables, rice or even powdered milk if you’re a dairy fiend.
Perhaps you have a few items that you want to try and keep cool during a hurricane. In this case, gather ice for your chest right before the hurricane strikes. Stores will be open for a little while yet. You can also use freezer items to keep other refrigerated items cool for as long as possible in case the power goes out. If you’re up for converting your washing machine, you can also use it as a cooler.
Chances are that when a hurricane strikes you won’t be able to get to a store (although some stores chance it until the very last second—or no power). You want to have your essentials on hand. Have the mindset of travelling. You want toiletries, medicine, underwear and so on. You also want tissues, paper towels and other household essentials.
It breaks my heart to see pets left behind when a hurricane hits. They need our protection too! Sadly, this happens too many times. There are things that can be done to help our pets weather the storm because they are just as scared when the storm hits, if not more so. Make sure to stock up on their food. You should already have water so make sure to have containers they can drink from. Have calming agents for especially nervous pets. Don’t forget toys, beds and blankets. Set up a potty area indoors of synthetic grass and potty pads (for cats, they should know where their litter boxes are).
Gas fryer or grill
When the power goes out that means there’s nothing to cook your food—no oven, no microwave, nada. This is when a grill or fryer comes in handy— ones that don’t require electricity (we want to conserve generator use for other things). Have some wood chips, coal, gas and lighter fluid on hand. Now, when the power goes out, you can fry up some chicken or grill some ribs. But you don’t only have to use the grill or fryer for their intended use. You can also bake and cook as though you had fully functioning kitchen still. So, you can still make coffee! Just boil and hand drip.
All homeowners have insurance, but if you’re in Florida you also want flood insurance even if you’re not in a flood zone. The majority of the state is only three feet above sea level, so theoretically, it’s possible for the entire state to become a shared pool. Additionally, you want to check that your home, especially if it is not newly built, is up to code. The building code various across the state with South Florida having stronger building codes; however, building codes are encouraged to be stricter with homes being built to withstand Category 3 hurricanes.
Wooden boards and nails
You’ll see on the news many of the times that when a hurricane is on the way, homeowners will board up their homes. With hurricane wind gusts starting at 74 mph for Category 1 and reaching over 156 mph for Category 5, anything can come through windows, doors, or roofs. If you’re not worried about the little interior damage to stave off disaster, get some nails and wood.
Hurricane winds can be vicious. To protect doors from being blown in and to stave off flooding sandbags can be placed in front of doors. As a replacement for sandbags, bags of litter can be used. They are just as absorbent and heavy.
Vacuum sealed storage
Hurricane equals water. Sealed storage is advantageous especially when you know your home is straight on a hurricane’s path. You may not have time to get everything out, but you may have enough time to protect valuables. Items like old family photos, jewelry and the like you can seal away to protect from water damage. Particularly for photos, I suggest scanning to digitally store them so that should anything happen they are not entirely gone.
Have you ever experienced hurricane season down south? Does your list look similar or do you have a couple of additions? Feel free to share in the comments below!