hurricane prepping

Hurricane Preparedness
How to prepare for hurricane season

Hurricane season in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico
runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Are you ready to take the steps
to survive a hurricane without government help?

You're better off assuming that no one will make a heroic
helicopter lift to rescue you after you've weathered the storm.
Hurricane survival depends on self reliance as we learned from the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and from the devastation
following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The best way for how to
prepare for hurricane season is to be self sufficient and plan

Steps to Survive a Hurricane
Before we get to the tutorial on how to survive a hurricane, let's
ponder what happened October 29, 2012 (Superstorm Sandy):

Above, discusses the Frankenstorm, Hurricane Sandy, and
how it shattered the American Psyche, and offers 10 lessons.

Here are the basics for how to survive a hurricane (without help
from FEMA)...

How to Prepare for a Hurricane
Hurricanes range from Category 1 to the extremely destructive
Category 5 of Hurricane Katrina.

BEFORE hurricane season...

#1: Consider moving!
Moving doesn't mean you need to move out of the area. You have
family and friends where you are -- it's your home. Just think
about the physical properties of your dwelling to see if you can
find a better location in the community.

For example, if you live in the first or second story of a high rise,
you may like to move between floors three and ten, before the
flood waters rise. If you live above the tenth floor, you should
consider moving to levels 3 through 10. Mobile home dwellers also
should take extreme urgency to move now before evacuation is
mandatory. Anyone living on flood plain, inland water way or by a
river should consider relocating.

#2. Get your gear in order.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic is June 1 through November 30,
but peaks August through October). You won't want to be caught
searching for equipment and supplies when everyone else is
making the same last minute purchases. Put together a supply kit
now if you don't already have one. If you have a kit, check it
against the hurricane survival list below to see if your kit needs
updating. At a minimum, you'll need to replace expired food and
may need fresh water.

#3: Have a communications plan.
Get a NOAA-enabled radio, such as the ambient weather radio,
which will enable you to get important reports from the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (and get plenty of extra
batteries). Also, be sure to assign a person living out of the area
in which all family members can call in case everyone is separated
during the catastrophe.

#4: Assign a safe place for a meet-up.
Have a plan for family members on where to meet in case your
home is not available. It might be the elementary school your
children attend, your church or local library instead of a shelter.
(Prepper's do just about anything to avoid a shelter.)

#5: Know what to do about utilities.
Know how to turn off electricity, gas and water in your home.
Instruct everyone in the family about the procedures. Do you
know how to use a gas shut-off valve? Do you own one? Right is a
4-in-1 emergency tool.

#6: Ensure you can batten down the hatches!
Get hurricane shutter installed or get enough plywood to cover all
the windows of your home so that you're ready to go for the
emergency. This is a detail not to leave until the end, when Home
Depot has run out!

  • Install hurricane shutters. Get help from a commercial
    during the off peak times to properly install hurricane
    shutters. Here's how to make do-it-yourself shutters.

  • Know that hurricane tape is not for the windows! Don't
    just duct tape your windows. If you don't have hurricane
    shutters, use plywood and hammer it to your windows. Duct
    tape is not adequate and you'll risk loosing your roof or total
    collapse of your home during the storm. Save the Hurricane
    tape for the leaks where flood waters may seep into your
    home causing sickly mold and mildew.

  • Build a safe room or find the safest place in your home. A
    safe room provides a layer of protection against flying debris,
    tidal surges and the soaking rain and high winds brought
    about by hurricanes and tropical storms. The best safe room,
    if you don't have one, is in the middle of your home where
    there are no windows.

  • Minimize projectile threats. Trim dead branches from trees
    and remove outdoor items so that these items don't become
    deadly projectiles during the storm.

#7: Gather your memories, not your things.
Well in advance of disaster you can ensure your memories are
secure. Upload your pictures to Shutterfly, get a flash drive, and a
scanner so you'll have access to reprinting important pictures and
you'll have copies of important documents. Do these things well
in advance of a hurricane watch and you'll be one step ahead for
other kinds of disasters.

#8: Learn what your policy covers and ask your
insurance carrier specifically for flood insurance.
Don't learn the wet way that its too late and you're not covered
for flood loss. Your opportunity for flood insurance expires when
the first hurricane alert goes into effect. Find out what coverage
you may have for hurricane wind damage.

Get insurance before you need it.
While preppers often think of their own preparations as insurance,
the reality is that a total financial loss could be preventable with
proper insurance coverage. You don't have to be a homeowner,
because renters insurance is available.

  • If you live in Florida, you are particularly vulnerable:
    Florida leads the nation in flood policies issued. Get
    insurance before the insurance carriers have reached their
    capacity in your state.

  • Get insurance before September. The month of September
    is the height of hurricane loss, so ensure you get insurance
    well in advance of that month. Don't learn in the aftermath
    and violence, murder and rape. Even the rescuers will find
    themselves victims!

Purchasing hurricane insurance is a little tricky. The main thing to
know is that it does not cover flood damage, though it should
cover you for hurricane winds. Know that you can ourchase flood
insurance from your broker or agent through the
National Flood
Insurance Program (NFIP).

#9: Spare some change.
Every prepper worth his salt, knows cash is king! Hopefully as a
prepper you've thought of everything and don't need to buy a
thing when everyone else is scrambling during a disaster scenario;
however, even when the power is out, you may be able to buy
something with cash that you overlooked or lost during the
cataclysmic event.

Spare change used to be important for reaching others through
pay phones during an emergency, but pay phones are becoming
extinct and just about everyone has a mobile phone. With
everyone calling, however, the mobile lines may be overloaded.

#10. Know the drill, have a list.
Make a TO-DO list of last minute preparations, so you know the
drill and can keep your cool about what to do in the final hours
before the hurricane hits. Here are some ideas for what to put on
your list:

  • Take care of special needs. Grab medications and ice if
    necessary for diabetics, find your glasses, grab the kids
    retainers, favorite teddy bear or blanket, menstrual pads,
    diapers, etc.

  • Secure pets. Make sure you have a leash or carrier, possibly
    a favorite toy, or a muzzle if necessary.

  • Secure outside equipment. Secure all lawn furniture,
    barbecue equipment and fire pits or otherwise suffer these
    items as projectiles!

  • Move furniture away from windows, and board up the

  • Review with everyone the meetup place. It could be the
    public library, school or grocery store, and have a telephone
    number of a friend or relative outside the area to call.

  • Have the bugout bag gear at the door.

#11: Evacuate - don't wait!
When the authorities tell you to leave, do it! Don't stay home
thinking you can weather the storm. Also, don't head for a FEMA
camp or you're bound to repeat the mistakes of the victims of
Hurricane Katrina. Preparing for a hurricane isn't going to be easy,
but if you evacuate well in advance, you'll be better off than
sticking around.

DURING hurricane watch:
When a "hurricane watch" is issued, it means a hurricane is
possible within 36 hours, and you'll need to prepare for a wild
ride! High wind forces and flooding is the hallmark of a hurricane
no matter what the storm category! Take a hurricane watch
seriously. If a hurricane is fast approaching (and you're
unprepared) do these ten things now:

#1: Gas up!
Preppers never leave their gas tanks less than half-full, and when
hurricane season hits, this rule is more imperative than ever,
particularly August through October. While it's inconvenient, make
it a regular routine to keep your vehicles prepped and ready for
evacuation with full tanks of gas

#2: Round up a seven-day supply of food and water.
In addition to fresh food you may be able to get at the grocery
stores. Gather from your pantry a supply of boxed and canned
shelf-stable and ready to eat foods along with a gallon of water
per person, per day and store it your safe room. For family of four
you'll need 28 gallons of water for a seven day supply of water.

It's always handy to have
bucket of Mountain House or other
freeze dried food. Pilot crackers with peanut butter is another
good prep to store. You may not be able to cook when you're
hungry, so pack
food bars and ration bars.

#3: Check the batteries of your weather radio.
Double check that your weather radio is running and that you have
enough batteries to run it. You'll need the weather radio in case
your cell phone won't work. During a blackout you can send text
messages on your cell phone and check Web sites, but know that
mobile devices won't work when local cell phone towers go down.
Also, everyone will be jamming the signals.

#4: Test your generator.
The time to get a generator is well before you need one. Test it
and make sure you have enough fuel.

#5: Store bottled water away from chemicals.
Double check that you've stored bottled waters away from
gasoline, paint thinners and solvents, as well as where hurricane
flood waters may flow to avoid contamination. Make sure to bring
water into the safe area of your home.

#6: Bring in the patio furniture.
Now's the time to stash away any loose items that could be
projectiles during a hurricane, including lawn furniture, trash cans,
bikes, and potted plants.

#7: Get your bugout bags ready.
During a hurricane watch, you should be gassed up and ready to
go with bugout bags either loaded in the car or at the door. Do a
final check to ensure you have sturdy shoes and the clothing
necessary to weather the storm, particularly as the seasons are

#8: Decide whether you will weather the storm.
You may still have some time to leave while there is a hurricane,
but don't wait for a hurricane warning to make this decision. Be of
sound mind and impart help from the experts in the news.

#9: Evacuate - don't wait!
When forecasters say a hurricane is imminent. At some point
you'll need to trust your instincts and go if you have an inkling
that a hurricane warning is fast approaching.

DURING a hurricane warning...
A hurricane warning means a hurricane will hit in 24 hours or less.

#1: Sit tight (and do not leave your house).
Once a hurricane warning has been issued, it's time to sit tight
and keep that weather radio handy. Do not risk the dangerous

#2: Fill the bathtub (and sinks) with water.
A waterBob, pictured right, will help you fill a tub hygienically with
100 gallons of fresh drinking water. Remember also to fill
pitchers, stock pots, and buckets so you'll have even more water
on hand!

#3: Batten down the hatches (if you have them)!
When the storm is imminent, you'll have no time to build
shutters. If you don't have shutters, you can still nail the shutters
down or cover the windows with plywood about 1/2 thick. This is
one instance where
duct tape won't do! Save the hurricane tape
for the floodwaters to seal up and avoid mold and mildews that
will follow.

#4: Close all doors and keep away from windows.
Move to the center of your home (or the place with few or no
windows). Stay away even from shuttered windows.

#5: Get shelf stable.
Grab whatever ready-to-eat, shelf-stable boxed or canned foods
you have and bring them with you to the center of the house or
your safe room. Remember the pet food as well. Know that you
can eat foods directly from the can without heating them. You'll
want to save the freeze dried foods for the aftermath when you
know it's safe to boil water.

#6: Unplug!
Turn off all utilities and unplug appliances and electronics. Be
sure to turn off propane tanks as well.

#7: Grab a whistle for every member of the family.
A whistle will help you signal for help should you find yourself
trapped and helpless when the storm settles. If you don't have a
whistle, consider grabbing a noisemaker.

#8: Cover your noggin and brace for impact.
Have a mattress or pillow to protect your head. If you have a bike
helmet, put them on!

#9: Beware of the aftermath.
If the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is any indication, another
severe hurricane likely will leave desperate people to commit acts
of looting. Be prepared to accept the challenge.

#10: Brace for flash floods.

  • Pay attention to the elevation level. Know the elevation
    level of your home and whether the land is particularly flood-
    prone. (Everyone lives in a flood zone.)

  • Plan on a few precautions before the floods come.
  • Turn off gas and electricity before the floods arrive.
  • Secure propane tanks and other possible floating debris away
    from your home.
  • Cover furnishings with plastic.
  • Move your vehicles to higher grounds.
  • Moore a raft in case you need to make a quick escape

What to do AFTER the hurricane

#1: Begin search and recovery.
Immediately following impact and when it is safe to do so, is the
time to listen for the whistles of missing persons who may be
buried under the rubble.

#2: Prepare for flash floods.
Brace for flash flooding. At this point, it's too late for flood
insurance! If flood waters remain around the building, do not
return inside your home.

#3: Beware of electrical dangers.
  • If you lose electricity keep circuit breakers turned off as you
    are bracing for flood waters.
  • Check for frayed wires and call the power company if you see
  • If you smell gas leave your home immediately.
  • Beware of downed and loose power lines.

#4: Don't drive through water more than 4 inches
Never drive through flood water that's moving or more than 4-
inches deep.

Above, experts weigh in on what to do before, during and after a hurricane.

Hurricane Survival List
Here is a list that goes beyond having a manual can opener handy
and a flash light.

Hurricane supply kit:
  • Water: a gallon per person, per day. Have enough to weather
    the storm. Victims of Hurricane Katrina went days without
  • Food. Shelf-stable food (consult our list of 37 foods to hoard)
  • Prescription medications and a first aid kit
  • flashlights and batteries
  • NOAA Radio
  • Rain gear. Gather up your coats and rain boots

  • Hurricane bolts. Get bolted. Hurricane Bolts are made of
    strong bad durable stainless steel. They are ideal for
    installing hurricane panels to storefronts and sliding glass
    doors. Normally used in conjunction with lead anchors.

  • WaterBob (bathtub reservoir): Every prepper should own a
    WaterBob, not just those who live in threat of hurricane
    season. As a prepper, you may already own WaterBob for
    hurricane season if you live in hurricane alley, but even if you
    do, you may want two (or three) depending on the size of
    your home! You would be wise to fill all the bathtubs of your
    home immediately following an EMP. Overlooked prep.

  • Bugout vehicle. Keep your vehicle primed with gas during
    hurricane season (never below half a tank) and give it a tune
    up. Remember that batteries last around five years. If you
    are unsure how much life is left in there, get a new one! Your
    vehicle should be well stocked and ready to go. For more
    information on how to stock your vehicle read our article on
    car essentials.

  • Radio to listen for advance warnings. Be sure to get an
    NOAA-enabled and dial in daily for reports. The National
    Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an organization of
    the United States Department of Commerce.

  • Cell phone solar charger. If possible, carry your phone and
    charger to the safe area of your home so that you'll be able
    to communicate with loved ones on your whereabouts and
    condition. Again, don't expect the rescue helicopters to get
    you to the nearby hospital, but take comfort in knowing you
    have a means of communications in which you can follow
    instructions and wait if you need help.

  • Check for Hurricane Insurance. Can your home insurance
    withstand the hurricane? Ask an insurance representative
    before disaster strikes.

  • Get Flood insurance. Even a couple if inches of
    floodwaters can bring tens of thousands of dollars in
    damage. Contact an insurance agent to discuss flood
    insurance coverage because flood losses are not covered
    under normal homeowners' insurance policies! Add flood
    insurance to your homeowners or renter's insurance
    policy. While insurance won't protect your preps
    physically, it can provide financially for you to rebuild
    your stockpiles.

  • And now for the other stuff to set aside...
  • Manual can openers.
  • LED flashlights.
  • Chem light sticks. Choose light sticks for any application
    where a dependable battery-free, fire-free light source is

Finally, trust yourself and your preparations. You're a prepper and
you're not about to head to a FEMA camp. Be brave in the eye of
the storm.

Above, from a CNN weather report, Hurricane Matthew taunts with an eerie
skull as it makes its way across the Caribbean to the Florida coastline.

Hurricane rating system:
There have only been three Category 5 hurricanes to hit the
United States and they were the 1935 Florida Keys Labor Day
Hurricane, Hurricane Camille in 1969, and Hurricane Andrew in
1992. Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy were not as powerful.

Happy endings...
Hopefully you'll never need to use a community shelter as part
of your hurricane preparedness plan, the way the unguided
souls in New Orleans experienced with Hurricane Katrina. If
there's the luxury of time for an evacuation, gather your
survival supplies and memories and not just your things. It
may be possilbe to evacuate with your one-of-a-kind heirlooms.

Related articles...

  • Help ensure a happy ending for family and friends by getting
    first aid knowledge in preparation for a hurricane. Knowledge
    weighs nothing and you'll be happy you've helped others
    weather the storm.

  • Dealing with Dengue: If you live in hurricane-prone Florida,
    watch out for mosquitoes, and get wise about dealing with
    aftermath of Dengue.

  • 37 Foods to hoard. One of our most popular prepping articles,
    food is an important part of prepping for any disaster.

  • Water. Getting water is a priority in any disaster. It's
    important not to drink from flood waters.

  • Food storage tip: These military P-51 can openers are great
    to tape to your #10 cans.

You also may be happy to read these articles...

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