I received a notification on my phone about a weather disturbance in the Atlantic, a few hundred miles North/Northwest of the Bahamas. The National Weather Service does not expect this disturbance to develop into a tropical storm or hurricane, but it bears noting that hurricane season begins June 1st, meaning we should review our hurricane preparedness kits and tips for the 2023 hurricane season.
A hurricane preparedness kit, also known as a hurricane survival kit, should contain the most essential items you will need in the event of torrential rain, powerful winds, flooding, and power outages. Southern Living shared recommendations from the National Hurricane Center and FEMA about what should be included in your hurricane preparedness kit:
- One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days to be used for hydration and sanitation.
- Non-perishable foods to last a minimum of three days.
- A battery-powered (or crank-style) radio and a NOAA Weather radio and extra batteries for both.
- Flashlights and extra batteries.
- A whistle to signal for help.
- Dust masks to protect from contaminated air, plastic sheeting and duct tape.
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
- A wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
- A manual can opener if you stocked canned food.
- Local maps.
- Prescription medications and glasses.
- Pet food and extra water for pets.
- Cash or traveler’s checks and change.
- Important family documents: Insurance policies, identification, bank account records stored in a waterproof container.
- Blankets or sleeping bags for each person.
- Extra clothing and shoes.
- A medicine dropper and chlorine bleach to be used as a disinfectant when one-part bleach is mixed with nine-parts water, or it can treat water in an emergency. 16 drops of regular household bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color-safe, or bleach with added cleaners when treating water.
- Fire extinguisher.
- Matches in a waterproof container.
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, plastic utensils, and paper towels.
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items.
- Baby formula, diapers, and wipes.
I know I revisit this practically every hurricane season, but I find the following 36 hurricane preparedness tips (some of which coincide with the hurricane survival kit above) to be especially helpful for keeping you, your loved ones, and your belongings safe when hurricanes and other threatening weather events approach:
- When necessary, seniors and the differently-abled with special needs should contact Home Helpers® for assistance with registering to evacuate to a local special needs shelter. You must be registered, and we have the necessary paperwork: 727.942.2539. You can also go online to submit your registration for a special needs shelter in Pasco County and Pinellas County.
- When the threat of severe weather is reported, a senior’s local fire department or law enforcement agency should be notified, especially if a senior is riding out a severe weather event at home and 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 the 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 meat 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 expired 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 start 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 disinfectant wipes for cleaning when there is no power. Mop your floors and vacuum. If the 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 the 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.
- If possible, take photos or videos of your house and its contents. Walk room to room--open cabinets/drawers and closets. This will help if you need to make an insurance claim later. It will show proof of items and help you list your belongings, 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 has 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.
In April, the Tampa Bay Times reported, “Colorado State University,which has a renowned tropical weather and climate research team, is predicting 13 named storms, of which six will become hurricanes and two will reach major hurricane strength (with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or higher).”
However, we must not let our guard down just because hurricane predictions are trending lower for 2023. Extreme weather has impacted the entire country, so we must stay vigilant about our safety during severe storms.
Please consider these helpful tips and share them with your senior loved ones. For seniors who live alone and cannot properly prepare for a severe storm or hurricane, Home Helpers is your family when family can’t be there.
I offer a FREE Consultation to assess specific needs and create a customized care plan. Once I understand the needs, I can match the perfect compassionate caregiver who can help seniors weather all kinds of storms safely at home.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have been ranked among the Home Care Pulse Top 100 Leaders in Experience for home care providers in 2023 and to have received the Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2023, the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2023, and the Best of Home Care® Leader in Experience Award 2023.
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
National Hurricane Center
Tampa Bay Times