But seriously people.
After sitting in the 3rd “worst traffic jam in history” with Hurricane Rita, as well as hunkering down at home through Hurricane Ike, I thought I’d put together a quick list of important things to remember when preparing for a hurricane for all my friends and family who will be discovering first hand the mighty power of Hurricane Irene about to hit the east coast.
Better safe than sorry so here we go:
- Don’t rely on FEMA. The local, state and federal government are not there to help you. One word: Katrina.
- Essential papers like drivers licenses, identification cards, credit cards, passports, SSN cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance documents, etc., should all go in a large plastic covered folder that can close and be protected or ziploc bag. Keep this somewhere high and dry and easy to get to if you need to evacuate. Yes, you can keep some in your wallet or purse, but don’t forget what’s in your filing cabinets and safes that is too important to leave behind.
- Have a list of important telephone numbers in the event your electronic devices that store this information has no power. Yes, use a pen and write it down on a piece of paper. Put that piece of paper in your plastic bag for safety.
- GET CASH NOW. Hurricanes hate electricity. (evil ATMs included).
- Charge your cell phones, handheld gaming devices and any external batteries. Too late to get a land line set up if you don’t already have one as they more reliable. You may find yourself charging your cell phone in your car so be ready and make sure you have charging cords too. Oh – and TEXT rather than call if you only have cell — gets through faster.
- Fill ’em if you got ’em. Gas up all your cars and fill any gas tanks/cans you have as back up in case you can’t get to a gas station or it’s shut down. Refer to #4 on what hurricanes knock out first.
- First Aid kits. Buy them for your house and for your car. Better to be covered twice than be in your car miles from home with no band-aids when you get a hangnail.
- Treasured items – photos, mementos, baby shoes – keep them close and easy to put in a box if you need to get out fast.
- If you stay home, stock up on bread, canned food items, bottled water, and any other non-perishable food items. Get a variety too. If your power is out for 10 days, as many here in the Houston area experienced with Hurricane Ike, peanut butter sandwiches get boring after a couple days. So think bread, saltines, crackers, nuts, candy, peanut butter, small cans of meat (yes, vienna sausages are yummy in a pinch), cereal, pop-tarts, lunchables, cookies, etc. Stick to the evil middle aisles of the grocery store to find the best food not needing refrigeration. Not many healthy food items make it very long without refrigeration, so consider this an early holiday feeding festival.
- Don’t forget your pets! They need food and water too.
- Purchase an ice chest and fill it with ice. Fill your freezer with ice too. You will use a lot of ice. A LOT, if the power goes out.
- Know where to disconnect your electric garage door opener so you can get your car out if you need to evacuate.
- Buy Sterno in case your electricity is out and you need to camp out and cook in your back yard or on your patio/balcony. Same for coal or whatever other product needed to use a grill. Buy a grill if you don’t already have one. You can always use this later.
- Don’t forget matches or lighters. Duh.
- Move inland if you’re living in a high rise. Our house shook when Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area and we lived SIXTY PLUS (yes, 60+) miles inland from the gulf. Don’t think for a second that your building will not move in ways only rollercoasters should. You may be safe from rising water, but not from wind damage and flying objects.
- Speaking of flying objects, pick up loose objects outside before the storm hits, so they don’t become projectiles. When Hurricane Alicia hit Houston in 1983, a large percentage of the buildings downtown had their windows broken. It wasn’t from the wind, but from gravel and other objects blowing off the roofs of buildings that did the damage. So put away lawn chairs, tables, door mats, hammocks, potted plants, rakes, etc. Tornados are family to a hurricane. They go together. Remember the cow in Twister?! Be ready to possibly see the weirdest things fly through the air.
- Remember when I said fill ’em if you got ’em? Prescriptions. Important.
- Buy batteries. Lots of them. All sizes.
- Flashlight(s). It’s not just a funky song. Have plenty around and know where they are if you have to find them in the dark. Trust me on this. 🙂
- And know where your tools are too!
- Candles. Kerosene lanterns. Buy them. Just be careful not to start house fires. Don’t laugh. It happens.
- Purchase a battery charged TV or radio. TV preferably so you can see what’s happening around you and your family.
- Buy long extension cords. You never know when you may have no power for days, but your neighbor is sitting pretty with A/C and full service of all things electronic.
- If you do have to evacuate, unplug all electronics and turn off your lights in the event of water/wind damage and power outages. Put things up high that are of value in the event of rising water if you’re on ground level.
- Invest in an emergency tire inflator and make sure your spare tires are full.
- A weather radio is a good investment.
- Fill your bathtub with water in the event city water lines are cut off. You may need this for bathing AND flushing. Yes, flushing. See #28.
- If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down. Yeah, you read that right. Just keep the lid down.
- Playing cards, reading material, board games … there’s nothing worse than a bored child. Except a bored child in a hurricane with no video games or DVDs or TV. Word.
- Prepare to cook everything in your refrigerator/freezer before it spoils if necessary. Just remember you must limit the number of times you open them or else the food will spoil more quickly.
And even more ways to prepare from the fabulous @MelissaTweets here.
Follow Hurricane Irene here. h/t @the_zarf