Hurricane Tips from a Storm Survivor

Hurricanes are kinda fun if you’re a kid, a pain in the butt if you’re not.  My first was before I was two years old.  I’ve been through more than a dozen, including going through a cat 4 one, alone,  in a tin roofed cottage on the beach on a tiny island in the Caribbean.  The airport blew away and help didn’t arrive for days, so everyone was on their own.  Jeez, in that one much of my neighborhood was gone–and I mean GONE— in a few hours.  My next door neighbor’s home was crushed by a tidal wave–which, fortunately, I did not see because the storm was so intense that visibility was only a few feet when it happened.  That storm was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve had plenty of scary moments.

So here are a few tips (that I learned the hard way) for those of you in the path of big storms.

If you have to leave in a storm, or if you stay and lose a roof or windows blow in, you’re going to get wet.  Pack a bag ahead of time, ’cause you might wind up having to leave during or after the storm.  Two gallon ziploc baggies are a perfect size to hold one set of clothes, a set of sheets, some shoes, or a towel.  Where I live in Florida you can get them at Publix (but not Winn Dixie).  Don’t get the kind with the zipper-they break.  The ones with the double-locking seal will hold.  Just buy a couple boxes of them ahead of time so you’ll have them if you need them.  Before the storm gets to you,  just put whatever you’re going to need/want in them & squeeze all the air out like a mini-storage bag, so they don’t take up much space.  They’ll fit easily into a suitcase. (Actually this is a useful packing tip for any trip.)  It saves you from having to root around among everything in a luggage bag & will keep stuff dry until the rain stops or you get someplace where it’s dry.  You just pull out a baggie with a set of clothes & nothing else gets messed up.  Don’t throw the empty baggie away–when the clothes are dirty, you can put them back into it so your luggage won’t smell like dirty clothes.

If the power goes out, no telling when it will come on again.  You can do without food but you gotta have water.  And it’ll be hot so you’re gonna want something cold.  Freeze a bunch of half-liter bottles of water.  (A larger size will split open so don’t try that.)  This way you have cold water for a few days after the storm, depending on how often you open your freezer when power is out.  It’s a godsend when there’s nothing cold available for sale.  It takes about a half hour for the bottled ice to melt, so you can sip it as it melts, and you can put it against your  skin to help stay cool.

If you have to leave there’s no telling when you’ll be back. Before the storm or before you leave, take everything except the frozen water bottles out of your refrigerator and wipe down the interior surfaces with a bleach solution (so mold won’t grow in the heat).    This will prevent you from having a hideous stinking mess when you come home.  Duct tape the freezer door(s) closed so the bottles can’t fall out in the wind.

Close the lids of your toilets.  If the ceiling caves in this will prevent you from having to dig out a bunch of plaster, etc. from inside the toilet bowl. (Ick!)

Sprinkle Clorox 2 on your carpets.  If they get wet this will help prevent mold growing.  If the carpets don’t get wet you can just vacuum it up after the storm is gone.  If they do get wet, you may be able to just let them dry and then vacuum the dried powder up.

Gas up your cars, and fill up some five gallon containers (don’t leave them in the house though).  Even though there may be plenty of gas available after the storm, there probably won’t be any power to pump it.  (Fla. governor Jeb Bush once famously sneered at everyone getting gas before a hurricane.  He said there’d be plenty of gas after the storm.  There was.  It just couldn’t be pumped.)

The most important thing to have?  Water, water, water!  Being hungry is uncomfortable but not life threatening for quite awhile.  You’re not gonna starve.  But you can only go two or three days without water.

Hope you find these tips interesting but don’t have to use them.  But if you do they could save you some effort afterwards, and keep you more comfortable (dry clothes, sheets shoes and towels) during and after, once you get to someplace dry.


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