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Given the severity of recent hurricanes what is the best way to currently prepare? This is an important question! I'm lucky that my house dodged the latest storm (Idalia). And last year's flooding from Hurricane Ian came within 20 feet of my foundation! So, I always feel like I can do more to prepare. Just a couple of years ago, we wrote a post called How to Prepare for a Hurricane (here), and that info is still valid.
Let's explore this topic again, since it's been on my mind a lot over this last month.
Hurricane Preparedness is More than Plywood and a Supply of Water
Preparing for severe hurricanes requires a combination of planning, readiness, and proactive measures. Just before a storm, it seems that nearly everyone heads to the grocery store to stock up on drinking water.
All of a sudden carpenters are overloaded with phone calls to please help so-and-so put up some plywood over their windows.
Of course there is more to it than that!
While the specific preparations you should undertake can vary depending on your location and individual circumstances, here are some general steps to help you prepare for hurricanes:
- Monitor local weather forecasts and updates from trusted sources such as the National Weather Service (NWS) or your country's meteorological agency.
- Sign up for weather alerts and emergency notifications through apps or local authorities.
Follow evacuation orders and instructions from local authorities promptly.
Create a Hurricane Emergency Plan:
- One thing that some people have told me in the past was that they assumed they would have no problem somehow remaining in touch with family members only to discover that cell coverage or land-line coverage was spotty or down completely.
This is why having a plan that includes strategies for communication between family members, along with agreed upon evacuation strategies is extrememly important.
One of my friends who lives in Alabama keeps a set of walkie talkies (fully charged of course) on hand for potential emergency communication.
Check out the Midland 50 Channel GMRS Two-Way Radio - Long Range Walkie Talkie on Amazon - also seen in the ad to our left of this paragraph.
And, because so many of us have pets, please don't forget to include them in your plans. We have a post dedicated to pet emergency survival kits here.
Build an Emergency Kit:
Elsewhere on this site we have talked about the importance of a hurricane emergency kit that includes essential supplies for at least 72 hours. This kit should include:
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Portable phone charger and backup power source (e.g. generator or portable solar charger like the Sunjack)
- Important documents (ID, insurance papers, medical records)
- Cash (in case of power outages and, well, just because cash is still king in times like this)
- Clothing and blankets
- Personal hygiene items
- Tools and supplies for securing your home (tarps, plywood, rope, etc.)
In this post, we compare some commercially available family survival kits to help make preparing a little easier.
Secure Your Home:
- If you don't have hurricane shutters, reinforce your doors and windows with storm shutters or plywood (Just don't wait until the last minute to ask your handyman to swing by to help!).
BTW: If your local lumber yard or big box store like Home Depot or Lowe's DOES have plywood available, it might not be a bad idea for you to order some of these relatively easy to use stainless steel HURR-PRO Universal Hurricane Window Clips (as seen to the right).
Reviews are good (4.6 stars on Amazon), and there are a few reviews with videos to show how they are installed.
- Examine trees to see if you need to trim and remove loose branches that could easily become projectiles in strong winds.
- Secure or - better yet, move inside - all outdoor furniture, trash cans, and other items that could become flying debris.
- Consider investing in hurricane-resistant roofing and impact-resistant windows if you live in a hurricane-prone area.
Frankly, as we begin looking to replace our now-40-year-old windows, our next step will be to purchase hurricane rated windows. I know it's a bit more expensive than your standard window, but the peace of mind will be worth it.
BTW: When it comes to roofing, in our area of Florida, if we do not pass a wind mitigation inspection, we won't be able to renew our homeowner's insurance.
- Know your evacuation routes and have multiple options in case of road closures.
- Make a list of emergency shelters and their locations in your area.
- Evacuate early if you live in a designated evacuation zone or if local authorities issue evacuation orders.
In Florida, we have an official site with the Division of Emergency Management, "FloridaDisaster.org" with a page specific to our evacuation plans. See it here: https://www.floridadisaster.org/knowyourzone/
Florida is not the only state with evacuation zones online. A quick Google search can help you discover yours.
- Have a battery-powered or hand-crank NOAA weather radio to stay updated on hurricane developments. Check out these two Kaito models - both have hand-crank AND solar panels for an even mightier option: The Kaito KA600L Voyager Pro Radio and the slightly less expensive Kaito KA500 Voyager Solar Radio.
- Establish a communication plan with family and friends, including an out-of-town contact person.
- Use social media and messaging apps to let loved ones know you're safe.
Insurance and Financial Preparedness:
- Ensure you have adequate insurance coverage for your home and belongings.
- Keep important financial and insurance documents in a waterproof and portable container.
- Be patient during the recovery process, as it may take time for emergency services to reach all affected areas. One of my friends lost her vacation home on Florida's west coast to Hurricane Ian in 2022. Fortunately she still has her primary home; however, it was devastating, and she will not be rebuilding.
Another one of my friends, who lives near me on the east coast of Florida experienced such severe flooding in her and her husband's home during Ian and Nicole in 2022 that they are required to rebuild the home (this time on piers). While they are approved to rebuild, the actual process is not likely to begin before the end of 2023. The wheels turn slowly, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of people in the same situation.
- Only return to your home when local authorities deem it safe.
- Document any damage to your property for insurance claims.
- Remember that preparedness is an ongoing process, and it's essential to stay informed and update your plans and supplies regularly. Additionally, local recommendations and guidelines may vary, so always follow the instructions of local authorities during hurricane events.