www.tanwater.com ->Prepare For Hurricanes

Preparing for a Hurricane
Water / Food / Cash / Light / Emergency Radio / Phone / and other hurricane preparations

This website contains tips to help in getting ready for a hurricane in Florida. Being properly prepared will decrease the hurricane damage and add to your comfort when a storm comes in. What you do immediately preceding, and even years before a storm will have a direct bearing on how well you survive the hurricane. Hurricanes can be deadly, if you are in the path of a direct hit, and can cause a lot of damage even in a near miss. Unlike tornadoes, which only affect a small area, most hurricanes are huge and can affect an area 400 miles or more wide. The tips would work as well in any coastal area and some could even be applied to other natural or manmade disasters.

What you do long before a hurricane is even reported will be critical. You should consider the possibility of hurricanes when selecting the type of home you will be living in. Although popular, mobile homes are not a good choice in coastal states. The metal on the exterior can easily be torn off in high winds, demolishing the home piece by piece. Homes with aluminum siding are also easily damaged. The best choice would be a cement block or brick home. The type of roof should also be considered. A shingle roof looks good, but the separate shingles will give the high winds something to get under. If a section of shingles begins to loosen, the rest will come off more easily. A metal roof would be a much better choice. Not aluminum, which is light and tears easily, but a heavy steel metal. Metal roofs come painted in many colors, but the plain galvanized ones, though not as pretty, would last longer, with little maintenance. No matter what type of home you have, if you live near the coast, where storm surge is a problem, or in a flood prone area, you should evacuate.

Long before hurricane season you should take a good look at the trees in your yard. Just before the storm comes in, it will be too late. If you use a professional tree trimming service, they will be very busy just before a storm and may not be able to help you. If you will be doing the work yourself, you will be very busy with other preparations. Any large tree that could fall on the house should be removed. The trees may be beautiful and provide shade, but they become very dangerous in high winds. Trim all dead limbs. They will become airborne in high winds and could break windows or do other damage.

Preparations immediately before the storm hits include stocking up on needed items and tying things down. Drinking water is most important. When the storm hits, it will most likely knock the power out quickly. If you have a well, you will only have the water stored in the tank with no way to pump any more unless a generator is available. If you are on city water, there is a good chance it will also stop running. While you can buy bottled water, it may be in short supply just before a hurricane. One or more five gallon water coolers filled from your regular water supply might be a better option. How much water is needed will depend on the number of people who will be using it. Five gallons per person is a good starting point. The power could be off for days, or even weeks.

Drinking water must be potable (safe to drink), but washing and water for the bathroom can come from non-potable sources. The toilet will flush by pouring about two gallons of water directly into bowl. How much washing and flushing water you need, again, depends on the number of people using the bathroom. Just filling the bath tub before the power goes out may be enough. Large metal or plastic tubs are available at hardware and farm supply stores. Have a ten quart bucket on hand to dip the water. Five gallon buckets are also cheap and easy to come by. Conserve the water as much as possible. You can take splash baths using very little water. Water used for washing can be re-used to flush the toilet. If you have a portable toilet in a camper, bring it in the house and get it ready to use. Running out of water for the bathroom may not be a problem. Most hurricanes are accompanied by heavy rain during and after the storm. It may be possible to set buckets and tubs under the eves and catch rain water which runs off the roof to keep your water supply full. Refill the water supply if possible. The rains may stop long before the power comes back on.

Next on the list should be food. With the power out, everything in the refrigerator and freezer will go bad in a matter of days. You should have a good supply of canned, ready to eat food on hand. Don't wait until the last minute. Just before a storm hits, people will panic and buy the stores out. While it is possible to cook during a hurricane, it is difficult. Foods that can be eaten at room temperature, or just warmed up, would be a better choice. Canned, sliced peaches, pork and beans, Spam ham, and soups are all good for emergency foods. Beef jerky, trail mix, peanuts, cookies, and crackers also keep well without any refrigeration. Peanut butter and jelly will last a long time when the power is off. Apples also keep well at room temperature. The choice really depends on your taste, but again, be sure there is enough food for the number of people who will be staying with you. It would be a good idea to eat much of the food in the refrigerator as soon as possible and save the canned food for later. Stores may run out of food, as people will be trying to stock as much as possible before and after the storm hits. Make certain you have a manually operated can opener on hand. When the power is off the electric can opener is useless. Your canned food will do no good if you can't open the can.

If you have a gas stove, it may still operate without any power. Most modern gas stoves only use electricity to light the burners. With many models it is possible to light the burners with a match when the power is off. If you have an electric stove you will have to use a standby method of cooking. Camping equipment is a good standby. There are many small camp stoves in the sporting goods section of stores. Keep enough of whatever fuel the stove uses on hand. Another cheap and simple solution is a sterno stove. They are small and can be folded and stored in a cabinet or drawer. Have a couple of full cans of sterno fuel handy if you choose this option. Never use a charcoal grill inside your home. The fumes are deadly!

It is important that you visit a bank or ATM before the storm and get some cash. After the storm passes, some stores or gas stations may open for business. Their credit machines could be inoperative due to power or communication problems. In the aftermath of a large storm, some businesses will only accept cash. The banks may be closed for a long time. How much cash you need is up to you, but you may not be able to use your plastic for a quite a while after the storm.

Light would be the next thing on the list. Flashlights will be needed. Buy the best you can afford. A cheap flashlight that doesn't work when you need it will do no good. Having several good quality flashlights on hand would be a good idea. You should keep a supply of batteries for the flashlights if they are battery operated. Just before a storm, the stores will be sold out of batteries, so buy them well before hurricane season. Several new types of flashlights which do not use batteries are now on the market. Some charge up by just shaking them for a few minutes and others have a crank to charge them up. You will not want to have the flashlight on all the time during the storm. This would run the batteries down quickly. A hurricane lantern is a good investment. They don't put out much light, but it is enough to see by. The old hurricane lamps burned kerosene, which leaves a bad smell in the air. You can get scented lamp oil to use in the lamps. It burns just as well as kerosene and has a more pleasant odor. Don't try to turn the wick up on the hurricane lamp to get more light. Keep a small light that does not smoke up the mantle. Candles would be another option. Use caution with lamps and candles. Never put them where they could be knocked over or start a fire.

Having a good supply of matches to light the stove and the lamps seems to be a good idea, but unless you buy special water proof matches, they may not strike. During the storm, the air is filled with windblown water and the humidity goes up to the point that everything in the house absorbs moisture. Unless the matches are kept in a water proof container they may become useless. A better option would be to keep several lighters handy. The disposable butane lighters work well or get a Zippo lighter with extra fuel and flints.

Emergency Radio
A small portable radio with extra batteries should be one of the items to have on hand. Some radio stations have emergency generators and stay on the air through a power outage. These stations will be providing storm track information and other things of interest during the storm and the power outage which follows. Unless they lose their tower, these radio stations will continue to transmit throughout the emergency. A small portable TV might also be something to consider. If you have a laptop computer with a good battery, you may still be able to get on the Internet even though the power is off. As long as your Internet connection is working you can get weather information on the web. For specific information on the storm you are tracking, you can usually do a search, putting in, "NOAA" plus the name of the storm, and find the specific NOAA website for that storm. NOAA puts up a web page with tracking and wind information for each major hurricane.

Something else to consider is that the power may be off, but the phone service, since most phone lines are underground, may still be on. This will do you no good if all you have is a cordless phone. Cordless phones will not work unless the electricity is on. You need to have at least one of the old cord phones in your home. Cord phones will still work when the electricity is off. Cell phones are another option, but in a bad storm the cell towers may be damaged, so the cell phone might not be working either. If the power is off, use the cell phone conservatively. You will not be able to recharge it on house current. A 12 volt adapter to plug into your vehicle could allow you to use a cell phone for a long time after the power goes out.

First Aid Kit
If you already have a home first aid kit that is well stocked with supplies it should be sufficient for minor injuries sustained during the hurricane. If you do not already have a home first aid kit, while you're making preparations for the hurricane would be a good time to get one. Check the first aid kit to be sure it contains Band Aids for minor cuts and scrapes, disinfectant, first aid ointment, larger bandages in sterile packaging, tape, elastic wrap, scissors, and tweezers as a minimum.

Other Preparations
There are a lot of other small jobs that need to be done before the storm comes in. Picking up and storing everything outside that could blow around is one. Put lawn furniture and toys someplace safe from high winds. If you have a porch swing or rocking chairs, take the swing down and put the chairs away where they can't be blown around by the wind. Take down any hanging plants. This is not only to protect these items, but also to protect the home from being struck by them. A short time before the storm hits, you should wash all your dirty clothes. There will probably be a lot of clothes getting wet and there may not be any power to wash and dry them for a while. If you use any medication, be sure you have enough on hand to last through at least a week, maybe more. Fuel up all vehicles and fill any fuel cans you have. Even if there is plenty of fuel, it can't be pumped without power so only gas stations with emergency back up power can open. Those stations will quickly sell all the gas on hand.

Putting plywood over windows or getting a generator are a couple of other things to consider. If you already have storm shutters installed, then by all means close them. If not then you must decide whether or not to put plywood over the windows. If you already have a generator, check it out before the power goes off. Start it up, be sure it runs, and check the fuel supply. When setting the generator up, be sure the exhaust will not be blowing on anything flammable. Never run a generator in enclosed spaces. Exhaust from gasoline engines contains carbon monoxide gas. Breathing carbon monoxide will cause unconciousness and death. Even when used in a garage attached to the home, the carbon monoxide gas can seep into the home.

Making these preparations long before hurricane season will save a lot of last minute running around. Stores will quickly sell out of emergency supplies just before a storm.

Being well prepared for a hurricane will save a lot of misery if you decide to ride it out. Watch the weather reports closely. Hurricanes are very unpredictable and can make sudden turns with no warning. The predicted storm tracks which are reported are only good guesses. Don't depend on them! It would be better to be prepared and the storm misses, than to be unprepared and be hit. If you live in an area which could get storm surge or flooding it may be best to evacuate. Even if you will be leaving, many of these preparations will help to make sure there is minimum damage to your home and property.

Good luck and try to stay safe!

Here are a few frequencies for weather radio broadcasts from NOAA (The National Weather Service), which can be accessed by scanners, marine radios, and some other types of radios. Different frequencies are stronger, depending on your location. Try them all to find the best one for your area.

  • NOAA Weather--- 162.550
  • NOAA Weather--- 162.400
  • NOAA Weather--- 162.475
  • NOAA Weather--- 162.425
  • NOAA Weather--- 162.450
  • NOAA Weather--- 162.500
  • NOAA Weather--- 162.525

NOAA National Weather Service Website

Classification of Storms

Depression ----- Winds less than 39 MPH ----- Little storm surge

Tropical storm ----- Winds 39 to 73 MPH ----- Little storm surge

Category 1 Hurricane ----- Winds 74 to 95 MPH ----- 4 to 5 foot surge

Category 2 Hurricane ----- Winds 96 to 110 MPH ----- 6 to 8 foot surge

Category 3 Hurricane ----- Winds 111 to 130 MPH ----- 9 to 12 foot surge

Category 4 Hurricane ----- Winds 131 to 155 MPH ----- 13 to 18 foot surge

Category 5 Hurricane ----- Winds over 155 MPH ----- More than 18 foot surge

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www.tanwater.com ->Prepare For Hurricanes

Graywolf / 2004 / Editing by Riki