You never know what you need until you do not have it. Beyond just batteries, candles, and water, outlasting a tropical storm requires diligent preparation and predicting the needs of those in your household. If you have experienced a power outage, then you know just how disruptive it is to go without it – especially if you are part of the 40% of U.S. homes with electric water heaters.
The recent arctic chill revealed a gap between the public need and the actual capabilities of power grids in the South. Though we cannot avoid hurricanes, we can certainly take preventative measures to minimize the burden. With less than 100 days left until the start of hurricane season (June 1st through November 30th), we want to make sure you are fully armed with the knowledge to handle Mother Nature’s turbulent temper.
We believe the following to be best practices when preparing for hurricane season:
The CDC recommends storing 1 gallon of water per (1) person each (1) day. So if you live alone, 3 gallons of water is the minimum recommended amount. If you live in a 5-person household, then 15 gallons is the minimum recommended storage amount. If you can, store enough water for two weeks to ensure you will not run out. If you live with pregnant women, sick persons, or in hot climates, you will likely need more water.
Grab 5-Gallon Water Jugs For Storing
Rather than buying individual water bottles – which is not very cost-effective – grab the large 5-gallon jugs that you can refill after consuming. You can find water dispensers at most grocery stores. Otherwise, use containers you have on hand and mark them as drinking water with the date. Replenish stored water every six months. Ensure the containers are tightly sealed, out of direct sunlight, and not exposed to toxic materials. Containers preferably with a tapered top will make dispensing easier. Otherwise, use clean materials if scooping out water to drink. Never touch clean drinking water with your hands.
Household Bleach to Disinfect Tap Water
For added reassurance, keep unscented household chlorine bleach (between 5% to 9% of sodium hypochlorite) to disinfect water if you run out of your stored supply. You can find the proper bleach-to-water ratios on the CDC website.
Food and Medication
From saving the food in your home from spoiling to powering your devices and protecting any medical equipment, home generators make an otherwise uncomfortable situation more tolerable. You can purchase – or finance – a home backup generator to power an appliance or your entire home.
Purchasing a home generator is something you will want to do in advance. The sooner you begin the process, the more time you will have to work with our team in making an informed decision on the power options that best suit your needs. And, if you secure your home with a generator well before hurricane season, our certified technicians will have plenty of time to schedule an installation without the high demand and hectic time restraints that always come right before hurricane season. If you have any questions on home standby power or would like to learn more, visit our website. You can find information and contact someone on our team who is more than happy to answer your questions.
Stock up on canned food, dry mix items, and other staples that do not require cooking for ease of consumption. These foods are the first to go when a weather threat is imminent, so grab these long before the skies turn grey. Keep enough to last you at least 72 hours. Try to avoid foods that will make you thirsty, like salty chips and crackers. If you do not know what to purchase, consider buying:
- Canned fruit, meat, veggies
- Dried fruit
- Protein bars
- Canned juices
- Peanut butter
- Granola and cereal
- Drinks with electrolytes
- Nutritional shakes that do not need refrigeration
- Ready-to-feed formula for infants
If you suspect the quality of any of your food, do not risk getting sick in the middle of a severe storm. When in doubt, throw it out.
If you plan to do any cooking without an alternative power source, your options include candle warmers, fondue pots, or a fireplace with proper cookware. If weather permits, charcoal grills, and camp stoves will work as well, but only outdoors.
- Keep food in sealed, covered containers
- Keep all dishes and utensils clean
- Toss any food that has had contact with contaminated floodwater
- Use ready-to-feed infant formula
- Keep a manual can opener!
- Stock paper plates, cups, utensils, paper towels
- Let garbage accumulate in the house
- Purchase canned food with dents
- Consume perishable food that has gone two hours without refrigeration
In addition to the list below, be mindful of the products you use throughout your day and make sure you have enough to last for several days. Keep the products in a clear, weatherproof tub so you can quickly locate an item when you need it. Run through the following to make sure you have what you need:
- Contact lenses and disinfecting solution
- Menstrual products
- Asthma inhaler
- Blood sugar monitor
- Antibacterial wipes
- Band-aids and antibiotic ointment
- Bandages and gauze
- Tweezers and scissors
- OTC medication (ibuprofen, antacids, anti-diarrhea, allergy medication)
Items you need:
Just like for your non-furry family members, you will want to keep an excess amount of water and food for your pets in the event of a natural disaster – enough for two weeks. Bedding, prescriptions, documents (like vaccine and health records) in waterproof bags, leashes, collars, carriers, and toys will make this stressful time a bit easier for you and your beloved animal. You will also want plastic bags, excess litter, newspaper, and potty pads when your animal needs to relieve themselves. Keep this away from where the family will be sheltering during the storm so everyone can stay in good health.
Microchip your pet
Getting one implanted is relatively inexpensive and can make reunification easier in the event of separation. Be sure to have the microchip number on hand and that the information is up to date. You can also keep a photo of you two as further proof of ownership.
Locate a place for your pet to stay
Many evacuation shelters do not allow pets that are not service animals. Have a family member or friend who is willing and able to watch your loved one if you need to evacuate your home. You can also find pet-friendly hotels or animal clinics for additional boarding options. You will want to run through this checklist provided by the CDC to make sure you have everything you need in case you need to board your animal.
- Remove any plants or chemicals that could make your animal sick
- Never leave your pet outside
- Separate dogs and cats. The bad weather could affect their behavior
- Use moist food to reduce the amount of water your animals need
- Do not give them tap water unless you know it is safe
- Make sure vaccinations are up to date so they can get boarded if necessary
- Have an anti-anxiety vest on hand if your pet gets nervous during bad weather
In case of evacuation
Prep your home
- Cover your windows with storm shutters or plywood.
- Turn off your gas, electricity, and water if you see flooding or need to evacuate.
- Move outdoor furniture into the garage.
- Designate a shelter area that is away from windows and safe for pets.
- Make sure your fire alarm and CO detectors have fresh batteries.
Prep your car
If roads are safe to drive, run through the following:
- Have a full tank of gas.
- Make sure your car is in good working condition.
- Keep your car in the garage or undercover.
- Keep an emergency kit in your car with things like jumper cables, flares, an ice scraper, a phone charger, blankets, and water.
- Leave any evacuation materials you do not immediately need in the car for easy evacuation.
Though immediate physical needs are essential, do not neglect your mental health. Keep your favorite books, board games, and crafts handy to stay occupied while passing the time. Make it competitive by challenging a family member to see who can work out the most often during the outage or have someone in the house lead everyone in a funny jazzercise session.
You can also stock up on:
- Arts and crafts supplies
- Board games and cards
Stay busy by:
- Teaching your dog new tricks
- Do impersonations of famous people or family friends
- Tell stories
- Use things around your house to set up a makeshift bowling alley
- Make gratitude lists
- Use the time to sort through any clutter in your house
- Practice yoga or workout
While this may seem extensive, keep in mind that most of these items you already have or shop for. Get it done quickly by purchasing extra next time you shop or make a day out of it by getting everyone in your home involved with preparation and planning. Protecting your home with a generator and your hurricane preparedness kit will make surviving the storm a breeze.
Helpful phone numbers
Poison Control Center: 800-222-1222
Animal Poison Control Helpline: 888-426-4435
Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746