Hurricane Preparedness Tips

(This is a re-post, but in light of Hurricane Dorian, this seemed relevant)

Everything I Learned As A Tampa Native

Everything Runs On Electricity

Not only will your lights go out, but unless you have an alarm clock with a battery back-up, you’re going to be late for something. No one expects you to get up and go to work during a hurricane, but what about after the storm passes?

We all have bills to pay and some bosses are clueless and will want you back at work as soon as the storm passes. So get an alarm clock with a battery back-up and some batteries.

Driving – Gas pumps are powered by electricity, as are traffic lights and street lights. But here’s one thing people forget…Credit/Debit card machines.   Make sure you have cash on hand. If the power is restored at a local gas station, the Credit/Debit card machines could be going through a lengthy “reboot” after a power failure and not work. Make sure you have cash to pay for any necessities.

Lighting – Get plenty of flashlights and extra batteries. Avoid candles and oil lamps if possible. An anxious pet (or unruly child) may knock over a burning candle and set your house on fire.

If you are one of those weirdos who still has a landline, your super-duper, ten-line, caller id, hands-free cordless phone won’t work when the power is out. Think back to the clunky phone on your grandmother’s end table. You laugh now, but when the power is out, granny can still call for help. So, get a cheap unpowered cordless phone. Try Amazon.

Your internet connection may still be active, but your modem and wireless router will be useless without power. Invest in a UPS (uninterruptible power source), not the delivery company. If you have a laptop, keep it fully charged. You can power the laptop with the battery and keep the modem and router working with the UPS.

Keep your cellphone fully charged. Consider getting an extra battery and charging it too. You can also get a solar cellphone charger. Of course, you have to wait until the sun comes out again to use it. And no, don’t even try shining a flashlight on the little solar panel. It’s not the same thing.

Now, you can just kill time and wait for the power to come back on. Honestly, how long is the longest blackout you’ve experienced? Not the boozing kind, a power outage. Thirty minutes? Two hours?

In 2004, there were three storms that hit Florida in September. It felt like every other weekend. The last one, Hurricane Jeanne hit the same areas rocked by the other two. There were parts of South Tampa that were without power for TWO WEEKS. Imagine no AC, no refrigeration, no microwave oven, no television, no hot water, no clean clothes and no internet for two weeks.

So, get some flashlights and plenty of wine (red – no refrigeration) and prepare for the chaos.

Conventional wisdom suggests one gallon of water per person, per day, during and after a hurricane. What they don’t tell you is, that is just for consumption. You also need water to bathe, brush your teeth, cook, clean and yes, flush down the toilet. If the water main broke right now or became contaminated, how long could you go with your current water stash?


If you have pets, they’d like to have a drink too. Children or adults who are sick may require more than the estimated one gallon per day. So grab as much bottled water as you can.Maybe you’ve heard you can bleach your bathtub and fill it full of water for drinking. WRONG. Don’t do it. You can never get your tub clean enough.

Remember how filthy you were that last time you took a bath, or you bathed your dog? Do you wanna drink that?

You should still attempt to fill your bathtub with water. You’ll need the tub water to flush down the toilet. Remember, the top tank of the toilet will not fill up, if the water is off. Grab a large pot (with a handle) and be prepared to scoop water from the bathtub to pour (flush) down the toilet.


Most refrigerators are well-insulated. According to the FDA, provided you don’t stand there with the door open, the food should be safe to eat for up to four hours.

Canned food is critical. It doesn’t require refrigeration. Most canned food comes with convenient pull-top lids. But invest in a manual can-opener anyway. You may have to eat this unheated, right out of the can, but you can handle it.

Make sure you have a steady supply of canned or bottled caffeinated beverages. Your coffee maker won’t work without power and Starbucks will probably be closed.

Try going a day without caffeine and you’re head will hurt so bad, you’ll swear you can hear your eyelids blink.


And by medication, I don’t just mean prescription pills.

Yes, your prescription medication is vital to your health and well-being, but you may also need some over-the-counter remedies as well. Think aspirin, Pepto-Bismol and Listerine.

If you’re a smoker, don’t forget your cigarettes. You know what kind of a butthead you become when you run low on nicotine.

Your Toilet

In a hurricane, any utility is at risk. This includes waste water systems. You know, where your dookie travels to when you flush.

What happens if the sewer main breaks or becomes overwhelmed by flood water intrusion? In short, you’ll flush and nothing will happen.

Or worse yet, it will come back. So what now?

Prepare with a small trash can and a large supply of trash bags. This is really nasty, the whole “pooping in a trash bag” thing, but what else are you going to do?

When ya gotta go, you gotta go.

Try to think of it as picking up your dog’s poop, but just with a much larger plastic bag. I know it sounds awful and it is. But the alternative is a growing mound of unflushable hell in your toilet and the horrible smell that comes along with it.

Get A Radio

A radio (ray-dee-oh) is how your parents listened to music. A radio can also provide news updates and tell you the progression of the hurricane. These require electricity, so be sure to buy plenty of batteries to keep your radio working.

In all seriousness, be prepared and be safe. A hurricane is nothing to mess with. You’ll need all your energy to yell at your homeowner’s insurance company as they tell you flood damage is not covered under your policy.