Letter Re: Hurricane Preparedness Steps
Now is the time for those in the Southeastern
United States to check their preparations for hurricanes. Below is a list of steps I go through anytime there is a hint
of a potential storm. These steps were derived from past experiences and lessons I have learned from other Survivalblog.com
posts. I do this prep so as not to get caught up in panicked crowds on the days immediately preceding the storm.
Should the storm not hit me directly I consider this prepping chance to practice and shore up my supplies.
1) Water (1 or 5 gallon jugs) is purchased and any filter systems, storage systems
and well pumps are checked.
2) Storage food is checked and additional food is purchased if
necessary. During his phase any non-perishable food needed, including comfort food should is purchased.
Fuel Stores such as gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, Coleman White fuel, kerosene are checked and topped off as needed.
Cooking fuels are checked and purchased as needed.
5) Battery stores are checked and additional
batteries are purchased as needed.
6) Flashlights, lanterns and other alternative light sources
are tested and batteries are replaced, fuel is added to each device as needed.
7) Alternative cooking
devices are tested.
8) Radio communications are tested and made ready.
Storm shutters and fasteners are made ready for deployment.
10) Blackout curtains are located and made ready for
11) Generators - run on a load for 30 minutes, tanks are topped off and any maintenance need is completed.
First aid supplies - are checked and additional supplies are purchased as needed.
13) Double check prescriptions and fill
14) Firearms (If you have them) are checked and cleaned and lubricated if necessary. Ammunition
is checked and the amount needed for a possible event is moved from storage to an easily accessible, but secure location.
Daily used household items such as cleaners, soaps, tooth care; toilet paper etc. should be checked and purchased as necessary.
Start making Ice and have bags ready for when the container for the ice maker gets full.
17) G.O.O.D. packs are checked and replenished as needed.
18) Fuel tanks for vehicles from this point on are not allowed
to go below ¾ths filled and as a normal procedure should not be allowed to go under ½ full.
19) Check vehicles
for tire pressure, fluid levels, belt tensions, and any pending maintenance critical to the operation of the vehicle should
be done at this time.
20) Communicate with your preparedness group, family and like-minded friends; discuss
the possibility of implementing your preparedness plan assuming you have one.
1) Grocery store – last minute items and surprisingly
perishable items such as fruits and vegetables that do not need refrigeration are purchased. The event may be
short term and this will allow for one to two weeks of fresh fruits and vegetables before the need to move to dry and canned
2) Mail all bills due in the next 30 days if possible.
freezing water in 2 liter soda bottles. This will help freezers and refrigerators stay cool longer when the power goes out.
Have family or group meeting and discuss preparedness plans to include responsibilities for final preparations and survival
responsibilities immediately after the event and contingency plans for when things go wrong.
Start consuming primarily refrigerated perishable food.
6) Assuming the garbage trucks are still
running; make sure all trash is removed.
7) Any member of your family or group who has to
work will need to place a survival pack in their vehicle, that should include 3 to 7 days of food and water and one or two
Jerry can(s) of fuel if possible. If possible, preposition short term emergency supplies at the place of employment.
Experience has demonstrated the hordes of panicked people are beginning to start
at this phase, but depending on the event and how the event is covered in the media, the hordes could potentially start earlier
than expected; making some of the preparations at this stage more difficult to accomplish.
48 Hours Out
1) Impact shutters are installed, leaving
one or two off on the back side of the house to allow natural light in. When shutters go up it gets dark
and gloomy fast. The last few shutters can be installed right before the storm hits.
objects outside of the home are secured or moved inside.
3) Rain gutters and downspouts are cleaned
4) Charge any remaining batteries and radios.
5) Data from
computers is backed up and securely stored.
6) Paper records are secured.
Important personal items, such as family photos are secured.
8) Persons doing
prep work in the immediate vicinity of the home should have a two way radio with them at all times, with someone in the home
monitoring the radio. This is especially important for those living in rural areas with large amounts of property and
when working a fair distance from the home.
9) One person at all times should
be monitoring Radio, Internet and television news. Continue to monitoring these sources while available.
10 to 24 Hours Out 3 Hours Out – (Power is Out )
1) Any items still outside the home are
2) Remaining storm shutters are installed.
3) Vehicles are
moved to the garage or a secure location. Depending on the situation and location this step may be done sooner in the process.
Internal alternative light sources are made ready and strategically placed.
5) Food stores
and water for the next 24-72 hours are made ready. Some perishable food for immediate use can be moved to coolers, which
if properly packed and insulated will stay cool for two days. A layer of dry ice on the bottom of a cooler separated by a
dish towel can keep items frozen for up to 4 days in the proper cooler)
6) Turn freezer refrigerator
temps down). Get them as cold as possible without freezing the coils.
7) Turn air-conditioning
down and get the house cool before the power goes out.
8) Entertainment such as games, books are
located and made ready.
9) Charge laptops and cell phones.
10) Wash all dishes by
11) Any remaining laundry is done (earlier in the 24-hours before landfall and well before the likelihood of
12) Depending on the water situation, sinks, bath tubs and containers should be filled with water
and treated appropriately.
13) Move some frozen bottles to the refrigerator.
14) Keep refrigerator
and freezer doors closed (once the power goes out, It may be 12 hours or more before the generator can fired up).
1) Alternative lighting sources are activated.
All AC Powered lights and appliances, televisions, computers (except one lamp) are unplugged. The breaker for the HVAC unit and water heater is shut off. Leaving one light connected to the AC [utility power] and in the on mode
will provide an indication when the power returns. Once power returns, lamps and appliances can be powered up gradually
to avert the effects of a power surge. Those with standby generators will handle this step differently depending on
how their backup system is designed.
3) If possible, use the remaining hot water;
take a shower(s) assuming conditions warrant.
4) Once hot water is used, and if using a hot water
tank, close the incoming water valve; a fresh supply of water is now available.
Activate the battery operated television or radio and monitor events.
6) Sleep when and if possible
in rotating shifts.
7) If the situation warrants, move to a storm shelter or the most secure part
of the house.
When prepping for a storm, I print the list and the items are checked off as they are completed.
Doing so allows for a fast and efficient approach to prepping for a storm and helps to ensure nothing is forgotten.
The list is tweaked as needed and steps are added and /or removed based on the perceived severity of the storm in my
general area. Regards, - Florida Dave
Hurricane Readiness, by T. in South Florida
I have lived in Florida all of my life. I was born here, went to school here,
and my chosen profession is here. I have bugged in through every hit and near miss in my 30+ years of existence from North
Florida to South Florida. I was never scared of hurricanes as a child because my parents made sure we were prepared. I do
not have fear of a hurricanes now because I understand what can happen and what I need to do for myself and my family. Don't
mistake lack of fear for lack of respect. A hurricane is an immense and powerful storm that will leave devastation, destruction,
and death in its path.
If you are planning on riding out a hurricane you need to assess your personal situation. Is
your home hurricane hardened, do you live in an area that is prone to floods with even a normal thunder shower, at what predicted
category of hurricane do you stay or evacuate? My personal situation is high and dry during even the worst rain storms and
torrential down pours, I am not in the storm surge zone and my home has been upgraded to the latest Miami-Dade County Building
Code. I am comfortable staying and riding out a hurricane up to and including a Category 3, anything larger and I evacuate.
If you decide to evacuate, this is when to activate your G.O.O.D. plan. I will focus on bugging in.
First and foremost monitor the activity
throughout the hurricane season but don't ever fall into the hype of your local television station. Make your own formed opinions
from all of the available information on the Television, Radio, and Internet. Deciphering all of this information can be overwhelming,
but it is in your best interest to understand it.
The Week Before Hurricane Season
In the beginning of the season
I go through my hurricane supply list (below the article) and make sure I haven't raided any of the items for projects. I
also go through my pantry and restock (I do this quarterly). The government says you should have at least three days of nonperishable
food and water. I would suggest a minimum of a week. I have substantially more than a week stored for my family's use. Downed
trees, debris, and power poles can make roads impassable for much longer than the 3 days. Also make a video or picture documentation
of all of your possessions including interior and exterior of your home. Know where your power, water, and gas shutoffs are
and how to shut them off if you need to. I also slather silicon grease that I use for my SCUBA mask on all fridge and freezer
seals (there may be a form of this at your hardware store). This saves you money during the rest of the year as well. Check
with your family, friends, and neighbors to decide on how you will communicate before, during, and after the storm.
check my generator. I get it running and put a load on it. I run a resistive item like a coffee pot or toaster and a high
wattage device like a microwave for 10-15 minutes (I have an old working microwave in the shed). After this time, I turn off
the fuel valve and run it dry. I store a minimal amount of gas in the generator tank with Sta-Bil.
Three Days Before a Storm Hits
I go fill my gas cans and top off my vehicles. I never let any of my
vehicles go below a half tank. You can fill them earlier than three days just make sure you have enough Sta-Bil for all of
the gas you plan to store. Don't wait till the day before or even the day of a hit to get fuel. Either nothing will be open,
the line will be around several blocks, or everyone will be out of gas. I don't store more than 5-10 gallons at the house
at any time. I don't have enough outside storage without taking up too much [floor] space in my shed for too long. I fill
14 5-6 gallon cans. This gives me approximately two full weeks of generator power based on the loads I have previously used
for my house. If I am certain the effect of the storm will last longer, I can start cutting out creature comforts and extend
that time by another week and maybe two. If the storm doesn't hit, I have the fuel available for the next storm or to transport
to friends or family that do get hit. During Hurricane Wilma my brother drove down from Central Florida to me in South Florida
with 14 gas cans. I got six, my neighbor got six and my brother kept two for the return trip. I was without grid power for
a little over four weeks for Wilma. I also fill as many jugs of water as I can and put them in the deep freeze and the refrigerator
freezer. This helps maintain the temperature for when the power is out during the storm and at night after the storm when
I am I not running the generator. Turn all of your freezers and refrigerators to maximum cold setting. Wash all of your clothes,
everything. You will be going through plenty of shirts, pants and underwear with all of the clean up and repair work you will
be doing after the storm. Fill up your bath tubs and plug them closed.
The Day Before a
I put up my shutters. Even if you have hurricane resistant windows I would suggest shutters on the large and expensive
to replace windows. I have the wing nut type shutters. There is an adapter at home depot that lets you use a drill to put
these on, definitely get a couple or three. Also make sure you have at least two egress points from your house in the event
of an emergency. I have the front door, Garage door, and a side window that is protected by the neighbors house. When I put
up my shutters I also leave a small gap in one panel of my front window shutters in front and a small gap in the back window
so I can see outside. This helps with morale during a storm and keeps anybody from trying to open a door too see "what's going
on." After this is done I call up my friends and see what help they need. If any of my friends are out of town I make sure
their houses are battened down. I also get as much ice as I can. I fill every cooler I have with ice. I also put two block
ice chunks (gallon or half gallon frozen jugs) per cooler so that it stays colder longer. Ice is cheap enough even better
if you know someone with an industrial ice machine. Lube up your cooler hinges with silicon or petroleum jelly. This helps
when someone opens the drink cooler in the middle of the night so you don't get that loud creaking.
Park your car/truck in the most sheltered position possible if you don't have a garage to put it in.
I have an L shape on my house to do this. If you can, park between two houses if you are unfortunate enough to live in suburbia.
If you have a concrete parking garage near your house park one of your cars there. Park it on at least the second level in
case of flooding. Don't go to the top floor as that is usually open to the elements. Shelter your vehicle as best as possible.
This gives you a better chance of at least having one vehicle that isn't destroyed in case you have toG.O.O.D.
During the Storm
Stay inside. Monitor the storm via any media means possible.
Watch the weather radar on your computer. Listen to the radio or television. Know what is happening. Take bets with friends
on which reporter gets hit with debris first it's inevitable and comical). Do not leave your house unless your structure has
been compromised. Once you have lost power shut off your main breaker or switch to the house. I have one inside and one outside.
This inside main gets switched off after power is lost during the storm. Power surges can occur periodically throughout the
storm. I go out during the eye. Everybody says not to go outside and if you aren't comfortable going outside, then don't.
Its a small window of opportunity to assess damage to your house and vehicles and an opportunity to move your vehicle to a
more protected area depending on the wind direction. The wind after the eye will shift. Depending on where you end up in the
hurricane will dictate where the wind will be coming form. The eye can last from minutes to a half an hour or more depending
on if you end up [centered] in the eye and the size of the eye. Get inside before the rear wall gets you. Do not use candles,
oil lamps, or any other open flame item in your house during the storm. If you have a structural failure the last thing you
need is to have an open flame ready to burn down everything you have. Glow sticks, florescent lanterns and LED lights are your friends. Play games, read books together, pray together, stay calm, and monitor the media.
During the Storm.
My pets are well trained and do not spook easily and are not afraid of strong storms. But, if your
pets are easily spooked, you can go to the veterinarian and get a sedative [such as Acepromazine (ACP or "Ace")] for your
pet during the storm. Many of my friends have to do this even during the Independence Day celebrations.
After the Storm
Assess the damage after the storm has passed. Document everything with pictures and
video. Assuming your house is still livable and after you have documented all of the damage and all friends and family are
safe, you need to set up your living conditions and assign tasks to family members. Stay clear of down power lines. Do not
walk in puddles or standing pools of water unless absolutely necessary.
Posting a watch. If you end up doubling or tripling
up with other friends and families posting a watch at all hours is an excellent idea. Posting a watch may be even more important
if local government and law enforcement has broken down due to the effects of the storm. I'm sure many of you have seen the
pictures after Hurricane Andrew of the guy on his lawn with a "Street Sweeper." There were no looters bothering him. I don't
recommend sitting in a chair on your front lawn with a shotgun for all to see. But, having someone whose only job is to watch
ingress and egress points of your property is cheap insurance. If you have the manpower, rotate shifts. If you are sticking
it out in your neighborhood and are a lone family, work together with your neighbors to put an effective neighborhood watch
Set up your generator and get it running. After the generator is running begin
to load it up. I have a 240 VAC outlet behind my house just for this. I shut of my main and turn on only the circuits that
I want to run one at a time. I listen to the generator and let it settle before switching on another load. Before having the
transfer switch setup, I ran extension cords to The Fridge, Deep Freeze, television, a couple lights and portable fans. Having
the transfer switch allows me to run what I want just like I had grid power, but you need to only use what is necessary. Fuel
is a hot commodity before and after a storm and burning through it on power you don't need is a waste. Protect your generator
form the elements and from thieves. I set my generator under a fold up/down hurricane awning and chain/lock it to the house.
I also set up a noise barrier between the generator and the house. Always run your generator outside and away from the entrances
to your house. Make sure to have carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms in every room as well as multiple ABC fire extinguishers.
Set up a cooking area outside. Even if you have a gas stove inside, the heat given
off during cooking can be unbearable. Under normal conditions your air conditioner makes living indoors enjoyable, but after
the power goes out you need to do everything possible to make the inside of your house hospitable. Also, cooking indoors can
lead to a build up of carbon monoxide. Without the Air Conditioning running and proper ventilation this can be a deadly hazard.
I use a propane gas grill and a Coleman propane two burner stove with a large tank adapter. This allows me to have a large
reservoir of propane that has a shutoff valve that won't leak to the atmosphere like the little 1lb cans will. Make use of
the items in your list set up the kitchen just like you would inside. Set it up under a tarp, tent, or porch. Even after the
storm has passed rain bands and other storms are always a possibility. Set up one large cooler for items that are frequently
accessed like drinks and condiments. This allows you to keep the fridge closed and use less power. Do not open your fridge
or deep freeze unless you need to. I also put 10-20 lbs of stuff on top of my deep freeze to make sure the seal is good and
Sleeping arrangements. I try to do everything in one room. My living room has
cross flow which helps keep it cooler when the windows and doors are open. I usually set up the living room with air mattresses
that I can move out of the way during the day. If you are running a portable air conditioning unit off of your generator close
off all other rooms that you do not want to cool. Having a small quiet Honda generator chained down outside and running a
portable AC can make sleeping at night much more bearable (sleeping at night in a closed up house in 90 degree heat is not
sleeping it's passing out). This does two things. It allows you to completely close your house at night for security and you
won't sweat to death. If you hook it up to your transfer switch you can also leave your home security system and outside lights
on. I don't advocate running any generator at night that isn't quiet. Your neighbors will be much happier with you this way.
Sleeping at night in the pitch dark can be unsettling. If you are not running a quiet generator at night, I have a few tips
to help you be more comfortable. Cyalume or similar light sticks are excellent night lights and can be bought in bulk fairly
inexpensively. I keep one in the main bathroom, one in the sleeping room, one inside the drink cooler (you remembered to lube
the hinges right?). You can use low wattage LED lanterns, but the Cyalumes are much better for your night vision. I like green
and blue as they last the longest and are the brightest. Battery operated fans will make sleeping in the heat much more comfortable.
Sleeping on an air mattress as close to the ground as possible is much cooler than sleeping on a traditional mattress. My
floors are terrazzo and are very cool in the summer. I have slept with my windows open to allow for a breeze to come through
the house, but unless you post a watch you will not get much sleep worrying about looters/crime.
Showers, toilets, and water. Fortunately, I have never lost municipal water or gas where I live so I
have had plenty of water and heat for showers. If you are on a well, you will need to know if your generator can power it
and know how much load it will take to pump the water. My sister in law ran a separate smaller generator just for the well
pump and one for the house. A five gallon bucket left out during the summer heat will be plenty hot for an evening shower.
Also the black camp shower bags are excellent for this task as well. You can hang the bag on an eve on a pulley system (for
ease of filling) and run the hose inside through the bathroom window if you don't want to set up an outside temporary shower.
If you still have running water cold showers during the summer are a welcome treat. I store enough water for my family to
drink for a month. This does not include the juices and Gatorade that I have as well. If I am under a boil water order, I
use my stores until it is deemed safe. I also have two 55 gallon drums from a car wash, the bath tub, a hot tub and a canal
for non-drinking water . The bath tub is not for drinking, it is for flushing the toilet if the water is out. I keep a small
1-2 gallon pail just for flushing. If it's yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down. Hopefully, the sewage or septic
system is up and running and you will not have to worry about setting up a latrine outside or honey buckets.
My washing machine is 120 VAC and my clothes dryer is 120VAC/Gas. So I can do laundry without much load on the generator.
But why waste power if you don't need to. There are quite a few articles in Survival Blog on how to wash and dry clothes without
power. I use two five gallon buckets. One bucket to wash and one to rinse. Once the clothes are washed hang them to dry. Make
sure to have clothes pins. No point in having to re-wash clothes after they been blown down from the drying line.
in mind that the storm may have greatly affected where you live but usually a 30-60 minute drive and you can find untouched
areas to re-supply. If you decide to do a re-supply run, make sure to include family, friends, and neighbors. Make a caravan
so you can bring back more than you would all by yourself. If your land line or cell phone is working let your fingers do
the walking. This way you are not driving aimlessly. I stay in touch with family and friends throughout the state that can
bring me supplies if it looks like I am going to be low or run out. Never leave your house unattended if it isn't absolutely
After you have your situation squared away, it's time to help friends, family, and neighbors. Tree
removal is usually number one, roof repair number two, then windows, etc. I help where I can and within my abilities. I know
most of my neighbors and usually have more than enough supplies to help and do when I can. I have given tools, food, water,
ice, and labor. If you have not lost power at all or have everything squared away at home and have the opportunity to help
at your local church, town government, or even the Red Cross do so. Helping others is good for the soul.
Once I have
the opportunity, I follow my power line (assuming its safe) from my transformer in both directions to the main feeder and
to the end of the line and note any trees on the lines, open switches, down lines, and down poles then call the power company
with this information. They know you probably don't have power but this helps with their damage assessment and triage. The
closer you are to a hospital or government building the faster you get power as well. If you see a power truck moving through
your neighborhood or power crews working. Offer them a good meal and cold drinks. They have usually have come from around
the country to help, work extremely long hours and welcome the small break and the food and drinks. Its not all bad if they
get a chance to inspect the service to your house while you are distributing charity.
Eventually power will be restored.
I have a light on the power pole outside my house to know if power has been restored at night. During the day you will notice
your neighbors being excited because power has been restored. Most people leave their main breaker on, waiting for power to
be restored. Do not do this!!! If you think power may be back to your home, turn off your generator and disconnect any items
plugged into it. Switch all of your breakers to off, your main should already be off remember. Inspect your service line from
the pole to your house. If it looks like there has been no damage, switch on the main. After the main is on I switch on one
and only one circuit. I then measure the voltage with a voltmeter. It should be at 120VAC +/- 10% in Florida. It should also
be fairly steady within 2-to-4 volts and not jumping around 5, 10 or 20 VAC. If your voltage is correct and steady, then start
switching on breaker one at a time. Go to the room that is turned on. Look, Listen and Smell for a few minutes. If all seems
good move to the next breaker and repeat Look, Listen, and Smell until all breakers are on.
Life will return to normal and usually resembles normality within a month. This is not always the case as some hurricanes
can devastate a community and normalcy can take years to return.
My Hurricane Preparedness Checklist
SurvivalBlog readers will already have these items and much more, but this list represents a good collection of items that
I have used and make certain I have available before every hurricane season. I am sure there may be more items to add to the
list below that may be specific to your situation and some of these items you may not need. Just being aware and prepared
will make living through a natural disaster more comfortable.
Camp-Stove, Stove fuel, and large propane tank adapter
Grill and Propane
Charcoal and lighter fluid
Manual can opener
Disposable plates, cups & eating utensils
Napkins & paper towels
Non-Perishable Foods - The idea is to have easy to make meals.
I save the MREs to pass out to people that need a quick meal.
Canned meats, fruits, vegetables
Bread in moisture-proof
Cookies, candy, dried fruit
Canned soups & milk
Powdered or single serve drinks
Peanut butter & jelly
Instant coffee & tea
Equipment & Other Items
Flashlight (one per person LED preferred)
or Glow sticks (I use three to four a night)
Portable battery powered lanterns
Hurricane Lanterns and ultra pure oil
(only for use after the storm)
Glass enclosed candles (only for use after the storm)
Battery powered radio or television
operated alarm clock
Extra batteries, including hearing aids
Mosquito repellent (lots and lots I can't stress to have
Sun screen (I use the Neutrogena SPF 70)
Waterproof matches/butane lighters
Bleach or water purification
Maps of the area with landmarks (street signs will be gone and many landmarks as well)
Buckets and lids
Generator (Fuel, oil, spark plugs)
Home Owners Insurance
Photo copies of prescriptions
Proof of residence (utility bills)
container for document storage
Back up discs of your home computer files
Camera & film or memory cards and batteries
Dry & canned food
Litter box supplies
Collars and Leashes
(most shelters will not allow a dog without a muzzle)
hammer, wrenches, screw drivers, nails, saw
Chainsaw : extra chains, chain sharpener, bar lube, two stroke oil, fuel
Trash bags (lots of them)
Plastic drop cloth
ABC rated fire extinguishers
Duct tape or strong masking tape
Outdoor heavy gage heady duty extension cords
Money (ATMs and Banks don't give out money without power)
Prescriptions (1 month supply)
Soap, shampoo & detergent
Glasses/Contacts and cleaning Solutions
Toiletries & feminine hygiene products
Changes of clothing
glasses or contacts
Bedding: pillows, sleeping bag
Rain ponchos & work gloves
Entertainment: books, magazines,
card games, etc.
Water, Ice Chest & Ice
One gallon of water per person
Block and Cube Ice
First Aid Kit
Alcohol or Alcohol cleansing pads
Antiseptic cleansing wipes
Burn relief pack
First aid tape
Instant cold compress
exam quality vinyl gloves
Gauze and Various Bandages
Super Glue (the magic wound closer)
Line Phone that doesn't require wall power
Cell Phones, charged batteries, car chargers
FRS two way radios
I also have portable VHF marine radios that can monitor NOAA and coast guard activity since I am near the coast
This is an area that I am leaving blank. Not because
it isn't important, but it is something that is very personal. I've prepared in this area, and so should you. - T. in South