Thursday, August 25, 2011

30 Things You Must Do Before A Hurricane - - - > Come On Irene!

Yes, whenever I hear news on Hurricane Irene, I sing Come On Eileen in my head.  The song will probably have more airplay in the coming weeks since the 80s.  Parodies are certainly being worked on as I type.  Watch.  =D

But seriously people.

After sitting in the 3rd "worst traffic jam in history" with Hurricane Rita, as well as hunkering down at home through Hurricane Ike, I thought I'd put together a quick list of important things to remember when preparing for a hurricane for all my friends and family who will be discovering first hand the mighty power of Hurricane Irene about to hit the east coast.

Better safe than sorry so here we go:

  1. Don't rely on FEMA.  The local, state and federal government are not there to help you.  One word: Katrina.
  2. Essential papers like drivers licenses, identification cards, credit cards, passports, SSN cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, insurance documents, etc., should all go in a large plastic covered folder that can close and be protected or ziploc bag.  Keep this somewhere high and dry and easy to get to if you need to evacuate.  Yes, you can keep some in your wallet or purse, but don't forget what's in your filing cabinets and safes that is too important to leave behind.
  3. Have a list of important telephone numbers in the event your electronic devices that store this information has no power.  Yes, use a pen and write it down on a piece of paper.  Put that piece of paper in your plastic bag for safety.
  4. GET CASH NOW.  Hurricanes hate electricity.  (evil ATMs included).
  5. Charge your cell phones, handheld gaming devices and any external batteries.  Too late to get a land line set up if you don't already have one as they more reliable.  You may find yourself charging your cell phone in your car so be ready and make sure you have charging cords too.  Oh - and TEXT rather than call if you only have cell --- gets through faster.
  6. Fill 'em if you got 'em.  Gas up all your cars and fill any gas tanks/cans you have as back up in case you can't get to a gas station or it's shut down.  Refer to #4 on what hurricanes knock out first.
  7. First Aid kits.  Buy them for your house and for your car.  Better to be covered twice than be in your car miles from home with no band-aids when you get a hangnail.
  8. Treasured items - photos, mementos, baby shoes - keep them close and easy to put in a box if you need to get out fast.
  9. If you stay home, stock up on bread, canned food items, bottled water, and any other non-perishable food items.  Get a variety too.  If your power is out for 10 days, as many here in the Houston area experienced with Hurricane Ike, peanut butter sandwiches get boring after a couple days.  So think bread, saltines, crackers, nuts, candy, peanut butter, small cans of meat (yes, vienna sausages are yummy in a pinch), cereal, pop-tarts, lunchables, cookies, etc.  Stick to the evil middle aisles of the grocery store to find the best food not needing refrigeration.  Not many healthy food items make it very long without refrigeration, so consider this an early holiday feeding festival.
  10. Don't forget your pets!  They need food and water too.
  11. Purchase an ice chest and fill it with ice.  Fill your freezer with ice too.  You will use a lot of ice.  A LOT, if the power goes out.
  12. Know where to disconnect your electric garage door opener so you can get your car out if you need to evacuate.
  13. Buy Sterno in case your electricity is out and you need to camp out and cook in your back yard or on your patio/balcony.  Same for coal or whatever other product needed to use a grill.  Buy a grill if you don't already have one.  You can always use this later.
  14. Don't forget matches or lighters.  Duh.
  15. Move inland if you're living in a high rise.  Our house shook when Hurricane Ike hit the Houston area and we lived SIXTY PLUS (yes, 60+) miles inland from the gulf.  Don't think for a second that your building will not move in ways only rollercoasters should.  You may be safe from rising water, but not from wind damage and flying objects.
  16. Speaking of flying objects, pick up loose objects outside before the storm hits, so they don't become projectiles.  When Hurricane Alicia hit Houston in 1983, a large percentage of the buildings downtown had their windows broken.  It wasn't from the wind, but from gravel and other objects blowing off the roofs of buildings that did the damage.  So put away lawn chairs, tables, door mats, hammocks, potted plants, rakes, etc.  Tornados are family to a hurricane.  They go together.  Remember the cow in Twister?!  Be ready to possibly see the weirdest things fly through the air.
  17. Remember when I said fill 'em if you got 'em?  Prescriptions.  Important.
  18. Buy batteries.  Lots of them.  All sizes.
  19. Flashlight(s).  It's not just a funky song.  Have plenty around and know where they are if you have to find them in the dark.  Trust me on this.  :)
  20. And know where your tools are too!
  21. Candles.  Kerosene lanterns.  Buy them.  Just be careful not to start house fires.  Don't laugh.  It happens.  
  22. Purchase a battery charged TV or radio.  TV preferably so you can see what's happening around you and your family.
  23. Buy long extension cords.  You never know when you may have no power for days, but your neighbor is sitting pretty with A/C and full service of all things electronic.
  24. If you do have to evacuate, unplug all electronics and turn off your lights in the event of water/wind damage and power outages.  Put things up high that are of value in the event of rising water if you're on ground level. 
  25. Invest in an emergency tire inflator and make sure your spare tires are full. 
  26. A weather radio is a good investment.
  27. Fill your bathtub with water in the event city water lines are cut off.  You may need this for bathing AND flushing.  Yes, flushing.  See #28.
  28. If it's yellow, let it mellow.  If it's brown, flush it down.  Yeah, you read that right.  Just keep the lid down.
  29. Playing cards, reading material, board games ... there's nothing worse than a bored child.  Except a bored child in a hurricane with no video games or DVDs or TV.  Word.
  30. Prepare to cook everything in your refrigerator/freezer before it spoils if necessary.  Just remember you must limit the number of times you open them or else the food will spoil more quickly.
Oh.  And a bonus must have:  Alcohol.  You know what to do.

Please add to my list in the comment section below if I've forgotten anything, my fellow hurricane survivors!

Here's some more great info from our friends at Pajamas Media!

And even more ways to prepare from the fabulous @MelissaTweets here.

10 Mobile Apps for Tracking Hurricane Irene

God Bless and stay safe my friends!

Follow Hurricane Irene here.  h/t @the_zarf


  1. Great ideas. Having lived on the Texas Gulf Coast most all of my 60 years, I might add to stock up on charcoal (LOTS of it) and propane for gas grills. After Ike we had no electricity for 13 days. Our stove - our entire house, is all electric so that meant NO cooking. We ran out of charcoal and at that time had no gas grill. We now own two gas grills and have 4 full tanks of propane. We also have two charcoal grills, a camping set of pots and pans to use on the grill so your good pots and pans don't get ruined as ours did after Ike. When we ran out of charcoal after Ike, we used wood from downed trees. Now though, we have enough charcoal bought and stored to last a year. Another good idea is a generator and small window air conditioner. Here on the Texas Gulf Coast after a hurricane, it gets VERY hot and steamy and the mosquitoes are relentless. They love our blood. A generator and small AC will keep you comfy and help you sleep well until the electricity comes back on.

  2. Excellent points, Stan! Thank you.

    Another to add to the list from @MelissaTweets:
    Right NOW, get out your phone. Go around your house and take pictures of everything. Save the photos somewhere safe. Insurance.

  3. Preparedness is a definite must in the face of a hurricane. It will definitely make a difference in how you make-do in the aftermath of a storm.

    This is a great list!

    I am just outside of Houston and made it through Ike and Rita. They say 3 days supplies is what you should keep on hand which is a generally a good rule of thumb. Through personal experience, though, we went almost 30 days without electricity after Rita hit. That meant no power, no water, no gas pumps, nothing. Luckily we had a couple places in town with access to industrial generators for gas pumps if you wanted to wait 8+ hours in line.
    All-in-all, if I hadn't known what to have on hand, it would have been much worse!

  4. We did the Rita evac. and stayed home for Ike too. Tarps. I talked my husband into buying 3 before Ike hit, we needed them. Lost a huge chunk of shingles, watched water run through the walls and into floors upstairs and downstairs. Needed tarps the next day. Also, had to use another one about six months later when the one on the roof wore out and shredded in early spring winds. Get rid of all leftovers, either by eating, in garbage or disposal. They'll stink in the fridge. Do all your laundry and vacuum and clean the house the day before - it's nice to have a clean house and underwear if you don't have power. Bug spray, insect repellant, battery-powered tools charged up. My neighbor drove huge stakes into the ground and bungee-corded his plastic outdoor storage building - we did the same to ours and it held while our fences were taken out. Put duct tape over the drains of your tub(s) so water doesn't leak out. Start your preps at least 2 days ahead, it takes longer than you think. Be prepared to become exhausted from the preps. Keep legal pads on hand to write down things to do and things to purchase that will come to mind as you prep. Be prepared to hear some scary very sounds. We have the sheet metal strips to go over our windows via large screws in the brick and siding. Screws are very long, yet the wind ripped one out of the siding upstairs and beat the side of the house until the other side ripped off. Sounded horrible. We found it wrapped around the breezeway post. I'll be praying for all in the path of this storm.

  5. IIRC, using outdoor bbq grills indoors can result in carbon monoxide poisoning!! Be careful! Praying for all of you in Irene's path!

  6. RE; water. Be sure to disinfect your bathtubs and then duct tape the trap closed before filling with water. (The pressure from the storm can force the water down the drain)A quick rinse off a couple times a day after the storm feels great esp. if it is hot & humid & you are working on cleaning up.

    Also, fill every container you have with extra water-pots, pans, plastic bottles. Make LOTS of ice in advance to keep freezer,refrigerator and ice chests cold. The extra water comes in handy for a quick rinse off, and wiping down surfaces as well as cooking. We also fill up trash cans and keep them in the bathrooms to flush the toilets, if the city water is disrupted.

    If you can afford it, get generator NOW (Home Depot, Lowes). Get at least a 5,550 watt or more if you can spare the funds. Also, get plenty of gas cans & get them filled when you fill up your cares. You'll also need some small motor oil to mix with the gas and extentions cores made for generators (If it doesn't come with any). A must for anyone using a generator, buy a carbon dioxide detector and make sure it has good batteries in it. This should go right inside the door closest to the generator which is only for use OUTDOORS. Another important "gadget" is a gas chain saw which you will not be able to locate after the storm.

    Most important, be safe. Don't take any unnecessary chances. Possession can be replaced but lives can't.

  7. Excellent comments, my friends! Keep them coming and BE SAFE!!!!! :)

  8. Water, water, water. It may be too late for Irene, but invest in a coupld of water bobs (disposable bladders you throw in the tub and fill with water before the event. They hold about 100 gallons of potable water.) I generally advise against drinking water out of the tub, because, no matter how good the disinfection, there is soap scum, fungi and other goodies that will drift into your drinking water.