Food, Water, Power

I’ve been in Florida now for a few years. But I still remember when I was the “new guy” on the block. And what it meant the first time I heard whispers of a hurricane making its way towards my home.

My neighbors knew immediately… he’s not “from here.”

I think they could see it on my face.

The new guy from "somewhere else" who'd never dealt with any of this before.

And I probably did look a little befuddled.

Because hurricanes were never a "thing" for me growing up.

Fortunately, my Florida neighbors have seen some things. Some that turned out to be nothing.

And others… a whole mess of trouble. With long power outages, flooding, stacks of debris, and a general chaos that lasted for weeks. 

When I first got to Florida, a few of our get acquainted, backyard gab sessions with my new neighbors included tips and tricks for preparing for the worst.

Now, you may not live in a hurricane zone like me. So, you may think none of this applies to you.

But hear me out. Commit these emergency prep tips to memory, and they'll serve you well no matter what type of crisis is possible in your hometown.

First things first, prepare your plan. This is important to do ahead of time, because in the moment, things move fast.

Where will you go if you need to evacuate? Who will come with you? And if you have pets, don't forget – you need a plan for them too. 

If you plan to hunker down, it's best to survey your home and surrounding area well in advance of any approaching storm.

That means trimming trees and making sure you have room – either in the garage or even inside the house – for anything that's outside that could become airborne in high winds. 

Furniture, potted plants, sports equipment, your grill. All these things can become projectiles in the midst of high winds.

If you have a fence, make sure it's in good repair. We've been fortunate over the last few years that things haven't been bad here. But that rickety part of my neighbor's fence... that ended up in another neighbor's pool.

Which made for an interesting conversation at the block party.

Next on the list is a plan for your windows. Which basically falls into three categories: impact-rated glass, shutters, or boards. This is a tradeoff between cost and convenience, when it comes down to it.

Hurricane "proof" windows mean you don’t have to do anything. But they're not the cheapest option, that's for sure.

Shutters are less expensive, but it does take effort to secure them, and some folks don't feel comfortable (or aren't able) to do it themselves. Best to get in good with "a guy" ahead of time to help now, because believe me… the rush will be on when the time comes.

You can also board up your windows, which is less expensive for sure, but it's not easy, not pretty, and much like shutters, once you close up, you're living in the dark.

Not to mention, finding supplies with a stormy forecast is next to impossible. If that's your plan, get the plywood now, a little at a time.

You're also going to need a plan for food, water and power. Having non-perishable food on hand, enough for at least a week or more, is critical. Plan to fill your bathtub with water, so you have a good supply on hand in a pinch.

And a water filtration option is a must. 

(You can also tap into your water heater in a real emergency – but you’ll need a plan to filter it, most likely) 

And backup power is also key. Not surprisingly, I prefer the clean, quiet and portable performance of the Patriot Power Generator 1800. With proper load management, you can cycle your fridge, do laundry, and definitely keep lights going and fans for comfort.

Plus, because it's solar, you can run it using only the power of the sun. No fuel required.

Many of my neighbors have followed my lead on this. After all, this is the Sunshine State.

But a few still have gas powered generators, which are not only loud, they're dangerous.

Sadly, many of the tragedies that come with hurricanes happen after the wind stops blowing. When people run gasoline powered generators too close (or even inside) their homes...and the carbon monoxide sickens them, or worse.

Consider this too. Gas is hard to find before, during and after a storm. If the power's out, the station might not even be operating. So much for your backup power. 

It makes sense to gas up your cars the second a storm's in the forecast. So if you need to bug out, you're not waiting in a mile-long line at the pump.

And, as with any emergency prep, you'll need at least a basic kit of essentials. Flashlights, a portable radio, food, water, cash, blankets and extra toiletries. A first aid kit is a good choice too.

This is something that everyone in the family needs to know about. Where it is, what's in it, and how to use it all.

Because in a hurricane, you need to work together in the moment to stay safe.

But the important safety work starts now. When the sun is out and the wind is nothing but a gentle breeze.

Trust me, a little planning and some legwork now is worth the effort. Nothing can replace that peace of mind.

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