Sure it's still February, but hurricane season starts at the beginning of June, and being ready means you need to budget so you can be fully prepared for any storm event situation. Preparedness lowers stress on you and can save lives.
Typical situations during a hurricane and after a hurricane include flooding, wind damage, trees down, loss of power, loss of water, structural damage, and numerous traffic situations.
Hurricane Readiness On the Gulf Coast
Top 15 List:
1. WATER - every person in your home needs at least one gallon per day plus you can expect to need additional water for washing and food preparation.
2. Food. Keep ready to eat foods that have high energy content, are things you're familiar with, and can be eaten without heating as well as plenty of canned goods, dry goods, and things that can be combined for simple camp-style eating. Kids and elderly may feel stressed, so comfort foods are important too. The goal is to keep your family as comfortable as possible and avoid stomach problems.
3. First aid kit and medications. Pharmacies may be closed so keep extra prescription drugs on hand in advance of a storm. Make sure your first aid kit is stocked and OTC meds are not expired.
4. Don't forget about your pets. Pets will need extra food and water too. Be sure and have enough available.
5. Clean bedding and clothes. The good thing about hurricanes is that you usually have plenty of warning so get your laundry done ahead of time in case of a loss of water and power. You may all be sleeping in the same room, so you'll need fresh camping gear.
6. Flashlights and Batteries. If and when the power goes out, you'll need to have light and a power source. Prior to a storm, stores will sell out of these items in record time. Buy early!
7. Emergency radio. Consider a hand-crank radio that comes with adapters to charge your mobile devices. A source of news will be invaluable to you. News channels will give road closures, traffic info, and locations for shelters and food and water drops.
8. Land line phone. Mobile service is often interrupted and signals disappear so have a hard line phone you can plug in to call for help or check on loved ones. No hand-held devices. Your phone will need a cord on the handset.
9. Cash. Keep cash on hand in case you need to evacuate to a hotel or purchase supplies. Banks and ATMs may be closed or inoperable.
10. Valuables and Important Papers. Whether you go or stay in your home, keep your valuables and important papers in one waterproof container that can be taken with you. Insurance policies and family photos are the most common items, but don't forget passports, investment records, bank cards, social security cards, and marriage and birth certificates.
10. Chainsaw. Many times a chainsaw can come in handy to clear trees and debris from the neighborhood. You can be a help to yourself and your neighbors while you wait for state emergency services to reach you.
11. AC Window Unit. Hurricanes happen during the hot summer months. A loss of power means a loss of air conditioning. If you're sheltering in place during the aftermath of a hurricane, you can use a small window unit and a generator to cool one room of your home. This is especially comforting at night, when you need sleep.
12. Generator. A generator is a great buy if you plan ahead. Prices go way up in the days before a storm, so don't wait on this one. With a generator, you can keep your fridge operational and run a small window AC unit and a few lights or the TV. Sometimes the generator can be shared with neighbors to help more than one household. Be careful with the generator and read the instructions. You can die of carbon monoxide poisoning if not properly ventilated so keeping the generator outside is the best bet.
13. Gas and Propane. In order to use the generator or your camp stove, you'll need gasoline and propane canisters. Stock up beforehand since gas pumps need power to operate and they may not be accessible after a storm.
14. Auto emergency kit. If you end up having to evacuate and get caught in traffic you need all of these things in smaller quantities for your vehicle. You may be stuck in traffic in high temperature situations. A portable potty for the car is also a good idea in case you need to travel. Be prepared to be patient, thoughtful of others, and in for the long haul.
15. Common Sense. This should probably be number 1. If the city advises your area to evacuate, then please evacuate and do it in the order they advise. This will alleviate traffic situations. If you are advised not to leave, then plan to stay put to prevent traffic build-up. If you feel you must leave, then leave early and carry a map to utilize alternative routes if necessary.