It’s that time of year again! June 1st is the official beginning of hurricane season 2022, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting as many as 21 named storms over the course of the next five months.
In addition, Scientific American republished an article by The Conversation that suggests that monster storms could form thanks to an exceptionally warm Gulf of Mexico and a loop current similar to what fueled Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
With that in mind, I want to revisit 36 hurricane preparedness tips to keep you, your loved ones, and your belongings safe during this year’s hurricane season.
- When the threat of severe weather is reported, a senior’s local fire department or law enforcement agency should be notified, especially if the senior has special needs that could require an emergency response team.
- Charge any device that provides light: Laptops, tablets, cameras, video cameras, and old phones. Old cell phones can still be used for dialing 911. Charge all external battery backups.
- Wash all trash cans, big and small, and fill them with water for flushing toilets. Line outdoor trash cans with trash bags, fill them with water and store them in the garage. Add bleach to sterilize.
- Fill every tub and sink with water. Cover sinks with plastic wrap to keep it from collecting dust. Fill the washing machine and leave the lid up to store water.
- Fill old empty water bottles and other containers with water and keep them near sinks for washing hands. Remember you'll need clean water for brushing your teeth and washing, too.
- Fill every Tupperware or plastic container with water, seal, and store in the freezer. These will help keep food cold longer and serve as a backup water supply.
- Fill drinking cups with water and cover with plastic wrap. Store as many as possible in the fridge. The rest you can store on the counter and use first before any water bottles are opened. Ice is usually impossible to find after storms.
- Reserve fridge space for storing tap water and keep the sealed water bottles on the counter.
- Cook any meats in advance and other perishable foods. You can freeze cooked food. Hard boil eggs for snacks for the first day without power.
- Be well hydrated before the storm hits and avoid caffeine and foods that make you dehydrated.
- Wash all dirty clothes and bed sheets. Anything dirty will begin to smell without the A/C. and with no A/C, you will perspire more than usual. Clean clothing items and clean sheets will be essential for better personal hygiene.
- Toss out any expiring food, clean cat litter boxes, and empty all trash cans in the house, including bathrooms. Remove anything that will cause an odor when the A/C is off. If you don't have a trash day pickup before the storm, find a dumpster.
- Bring in any yard decor, secure anything that could become airborne; secure gates, and safely store hoses, potted plants, patio furniture, and grills.
- Clean your environment so you have clear, easy escape routes, even if that means temporarily moving furniture to one area.
- Scrub all bathrooms so you are starting with a clean, odor-free environment. Store water-filled trash cans next to each toilet for flushing.
- Place everything you own that is important and necessary in a backpack or small file box that is easy to grab. Include your wallet with ID, phone, hand sanitizer, snacks, etc. Get plastic sleeves for important documents.
- Make sure you have cash on hand.
- Stock up on pet food and fill extra bowls of water for pets.
- Refill any medications. Most insurance companies allow for 2 emergency refills per year.
- Fill your propane tanks. You can heat soup cans, boil water, make coffee, and other stuff besides just grilling meat. Get an extra propane tank, if possible.
- Drop your A/C in advance and lower temperatures in your fridges.
- Gather all candles, flashlights, lighters, matches, batteries, and other items, and keep them accessible.
- Clean all counters in advance. Start with a clean surface. Buy Clorox Wipes for cleaning when there is no power. Mop your floors and vacuum. If power is out for 10 days, you'll have to live in the mess you started with.
- Pick your emergency safe place such as a closet under the stairs. Store the items you'll need in that location for the brunt of the storm. Make a hand fan for when the power is out, or purchase a small battery-powered fan and extra batteries.
- Shower just before the storm is scheduled to hit.
- Keep baby wipes next to each toilet. Don't flush them. It's not the time to risk clogging your toilet!
- Run your dishwasher, don't risk having dirty smelly dishes and you need every container for water!
- Put a small suitcase or “go-bag” in your car in case you must evacuate. Also, put at least one jug of water in your car. It will still be there if you don't evacuate. You don't need to store all water in the house. Remember to pack for pets, as well.
- Connect with all family members and set-up emergency back-up plans.
- Remember, pets are family too. Take them with you!
- Before the storm, unplug all electronics. There will be power surges during and after the storm.
- Gas-up the car and have a full, spare gas can for your generator or car when it runs out.
- I highly recommend, if possible, take photos or videos of your house and contents. Walk room to room--open cabinets/drawers and closets. This will help if you need to make a claim later. It will show proof of items and help you list all the items, so you don't forget anything.
- Another thought: freeze a cup of water and place a coin on top after it is frozen. Keep this in your freezer to help you gauge the temperature if the power goes out. As long as the coin stays on top, the food is still frozen. If the coin falls into the water, the freezer thawed and most food will likely need to be cooked immediately or thrown away. This is super helpful if you have to leave and come back, as it may appear everything is still frozen, but if the coin is in the cup, you will know!!
- Finally, anything that you want to try and preserve, but you can't take with you---place it in a plastic bin, put the bin in your dishwasher, and lock the door. This should make it water-tight in case your home floods. Of course, you’ll want to take all the important/irreplaceable items you can!!
- When necessary, seniors with special needs should contact Home Helpers® for assistance with registering for a special needs shelter: 727.942.2539
The very idea of seniors being alone during a severe storm is unsettling. Call it a professional hazard of my job! Please consider these helpful tips and share them with your senior loved ones. For seniors living alone who are unable to properly prepare for a severe storm or hurricane because they have no family or friends around to help, please contact me. I am happy to match a compassionate caregiver who is ready, willing, and able to assist seniors in weathering all kinds of storms safely at home.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2016-2022 and the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2022. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539