As I type, Hurricane Irma is barreling through Atlanta scaring millions and causing damage like she's been doing for the past 3-4 days. We got the worst of Irma here in Orlando last night. Like all hurricanes, Irma didn't care what the prediction models said – she had her own plans. So, after been told for 24 hours that we would experience only mild tropical storm winds, suddenly we were directly in line for the eye. That was not part of the plan. As much as you can have a plan.
Hurricanes suck. They especially suck if you live near the coast. We're inland so generally don't have to worry about the huge surges of water. I've been through more than several hurricanes since coming to Florida. Irma was by far the worst for us though we've been through storms that caused more damage. But, now that we have power and water and its on my mind, I thought I'd write down a basic plan for anyone facing a storm – hurricane, snow, whatever. It might help you and it gives me something to look at the next time we're facing a storm.
These are just weird things I do/keep that I've found to be helpful. It is by no means a comprehensive list.
Don't put off home repairs! Obviously budget is a consideration when looking at big home repairs but, try to stay on top of big things. You usually know at least a year ahead of time if you're due for a new roof. Make it a priority! A compromised roof is likely to fall apart in a storm and cause even more damage to the inside of your house while also putting you and your family in danger.
Windows – If your windows are cracked or ancient look into replacing them – even if you have to do it 1-2 at a time. If you have shutters outside – make sure they are well-attached.
Garage Door – We discovered this during Irma. Our garage door is old but seemed okay. However, at 3:00 am when we were being pounded by 80+ mph winds the door was bending and creaking. We are incredibly lucky it didn't split.
Entry Doors – Are the seals good? Are the windows good? Is it hurricane rated if you live in hurricane country? A storm is not the time to mess with a door that doesn't not shut properly.
Landscaping – keep dead things out of your yard! If you know a tree is dead or dying – have it cut down by a professional. It's expensive but not as expensive as having it land on your roof. Dead branches, loose pots, etc. will fly during a storm. Keep them picked up and/or contained.
Do the steps! This reminder is especially for me because I did not do it this year. If you know there is a chance that you will be in a storm that will cause you to be trapped in your home for several days or that you might have to evacuate get ready at the BEGINNING of storm season. Have a list of things you know you'll want on hand and pick things up gradually. It is EXPENSIVE to prepare for a storm all at once. Trust me. ;) I have a small chest of drawers in the garage where I keep my storm stuff. We probably don't need so much storage now that most of the boys are grown but it's a cute dresser. Some of the things I keep include:
LOTS of batteries – all sizes; flashlights; head lights for each kid; a camping lantern; candes; matches; a pack of lighters
Ziploc Bags – all sizes. Get the freezer grade. They can keep things dry. They can be used for coffee you make and freeze ahead of the storm. They filled with water and used as ice packs. Very handy.
Flip Flops – I keep a new pair of flip flops for everyone in the family. They're great when everything is wet. And, if you have kids, you know you can never find all the flip flops.
First Aid Kit – Yes, you'll be in your house but nothing is more frustrating that trying to find the right cartoon bandaid in the dark. Make sure the kit includes: Benadryl (stings, allergies), a couple of quick ice packs, an ace bandage, activated charcoal and any other regular medicines anyone in your family takes. I usually keep this in a tool box on top of my supply dresser. Inside the lid of the toolbox, I taped a piece of paper with all the doctors, dentists, emergency rooms, and poison control numbers. When my boys were little, I kept it locked with a padlock.
Chargers – know the best way to charge your phone. I keep several portable chargers charged during storms. We can also use our cars to charge phone batteries. Have at least two ways to charge your phone in the event you can't get to one or the other.
Basics – diapers, feminine products, pee pads for pets. I just found it easiest to keep a separate supply of this stuff just for storms.
Fun – Waiting for and enduring the aftermath of a storm can feel like time has come to a stand still. It's worse if you have kids. Throughout the year, I pick up card games, board games, comic books, paperbacks, puzzles and keep them hidden in the drawers. (If you, like me, happen to have all boys, hide all of this stuff under the feminine products and they'll never be spotted!) I break things out one at a time as we need them. I also keep paper, crayons, markers, etc. One year it was just me and the four boys stuck in no a/c in the dark for nearly 10 days. .We discovered it was fun to make shadow puppets with the lantern. Later, we started taping paper to the wall and tracing the shadow puppets and then the boys could color them in. Great time killer. If we didn't get a storm that year, I would usually use the stuff in the dresser at Christmas time.
Extras – After the long storm mentioned in #7, I added a 6-pack of underwear for every family member as well as a pack of plain white t-shirts for each size. If you're without power, laundry builds up and at some point, everyone will smell bad. Again, if I didn't use these for a storm, they became stocking stuffers – nothing says Christmas like new underpants!
Fun Food – I don't do this so much now but when the boys were younger, I kept a stash of snacks that we didn't normally have in the house. Fun sized candy bars, bags of chips, twinkies, etc. Again, break this stuff out periodically to break up long days and nights.
Audiobooks – Back-in-the-day, I keep books on cd's in the dresser. Now, I keep them on my phone. If I know a storm is coming, I download a couple from Audibe so they are available even if I don't have internet. I found these to be a great way to get kids to settle down and fall asleep. Our family favorite is the Harry Potter series.
I hope you never need my list or any list. But, if you do, I hope this helps you get through your storm!