Hurricane Season June First thru November 30th
By Yvonne Florian and Christine Kelly-Begazo
Hurricane season will be upon us June first. As if we didn’t already have enough to keep our pantry challenged, add to it the task of stocking up for storm season. But this can be accomplished even in these times of sparse store shelves, with a little creativity. Just purchasing a few items a week along with regular groceries can add up to a well-stocked pantry. Following are some tips and things to think about while wrapping our minds around hurricane preparation in a time of pandemic.
If there are just too many gaps in the grocery store shelves for you to make a well-stocked pantry, try perusing the International Foods isle. They often are stocked by the vendors directly and may have canned beans, tuna, sugar, evaporated milk, and even rice, flour, and corn meal under different brand names. And you’ll get to practice a little high-school Spanish in the process. If that is not an option for you, try ordering groceries online or even consider picking up some items from the dollar stores.
Only buy what you will eat
One thing we’ve all learned about stocking a hurricane pantry is that it comes in handy for more than just storm season. Another is that we should only buy things we will eat. Don’t buy sardines, for example, if no one in your house will eat them. Think about the canned and boxed food items you would usually buy on your weekly grocery list. Buy two or three extra of these each week. Also add just a few comfort foods and nutrition bars for quick meal replacements while doing the work of clean-up after the storm. You will be using more calories than normal.
You will need bottled water during and after a storm. The ‘rule of thumb’ for water is: One gallon of drinking water per person per day plus more for cooking and washing. It is a good practice to always keep a three-day supply of drinking water at all times. We use a lot of bottled water because of my husband’s job. As we approach hurricane season, I try to cycle through all our stored bottled water and restock double the water we would normally use in one week. This water store can be kept in sanitized, refillable jugs or bottled water from the store. There are coin operated “water machines” in most grocery stores, usually with a reverse osmosis and UV light treatment system. You bring your clean jugs and the water vending machine dispenses filtered, purified water by the gallon or 5-gallons. This water is devoid of minerals and, though it is great for storage and short term use, it R. O. water should not be your regular drinking water. For more information on emergency water, see the UF/IFAS publication, “Preparing and Storing an Emergency Safe Drinking Water Supply“.
Fortunately, hurricane recovery time usually only lasts a couple of days to maybe two weeks here in the United States. After the quarantines and shut downs of this past year, that may seem like a walk in the park.
If you plan to evacuate, your evacuation “go bin” should contain enough shelf-stable foods for two days for each family member along with batteries, flash light, portable radio, important papers, medications, water, changes of clothes and toiletries. Items such as books, puzzles, small games (non-electric) and age appropriate coloring books to keep the children occupied would be very handy. But don’t forget the dog (cat, goldfish, chickens, farm animals, etc.).
What to do NOW to prepare ahead of time
- get your trees trimmed
- bottled water!!! We need 1 gallon per day per person, more for washing and cooking. Keep a 3-day supply at all times.
- check/tune-up the generator, stock stabilized fuel.
- make a plan to batten down
- inventory your valuables, video your household
- have an evacuation plan
- inventory/purge your hurricane pantry
- pack a manual can opener & disposable eating utensils
- create your safe room plans
- fill the propane tanks
- buy batteries in sizes you need
- think about pets and livestock food and safety
- make an evacuation “go bin”
- clean out the refrigerator & freezer, use up anything you won’t use in one week.
- be sure hurricane shutters & hardware are easily accessible.
- if no shutters, buy plywood & screws now and cut to fit your windows
- have a plan for your boat
- make a legible list of all important phone numbers: doctor, pharmacy, E.O.C., Insurance company & policy numbers, contractors you may need after storm is over, far away family
- refill all prescription medications
Last minute storm preparations:
- charge all cell phones
- charge all drill & driver tools, and the portable DVD player
- pack a small “go” bag for a short evacuation
- put batteries in all flashlights, radio, fan,
- unplug appliances small & large before evacuating.
- ice your coolers & empty the refrigerator.
- fuel your vehicles
- fill fuel cans for generator
- put up storm shutters
- Evacuating? Shut off house power & water as you leave
- place charged cordless drill with driver bits in vehicle floorboard, along with a good hand saw.
CDC & preventing the spread of viruses
Since 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended people include additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and other viruses and the flu, including:
- Masks (for ages 2 and above)
- hand sanitizer
- disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
After the storm if you discover your home or property is damaged, it will be important to contact insurance agents BEFORE you clear away anything. They will need to send an adjuster to look over any damage to home (inside and outside), vehicles, your water well or pipes leading to the home, your outdoor air conditioner & water pump, sheds & outbuildings, etc.
Be sure to keep yourself fed and well hydrated. After-storm clean up is a grueling task and it will be hot, humid, and seem never-ending. Take frequent breaks, talk to neighbors and remember to stay “Socially Distant”.
There may be more displaced wildlife after a storm is over. Keep vigilant for them where you may not have ever seen wildlife before. Some of the common wildlife sightings after a storm for me were frogs, hummingbirds, strange butterflies, spiders, a poisonous water snake, and wild ducks in the yard. Lost pets have also found their way to our place including dogs, cats, chickens, parakeets and a cockatoo. After making sure it does not belong to any close neighbors, do you know whom to contact if you have found and secured a lost animal pet?
For more on preparing for a hurricane or disaster, please see the following University of Florida’s EDIS publications:
#ABE374 How Safe is Your Home?
And for more Hurricane preparedness: UF/EDIS hurricane preparedness topics.
Another great place for lists & plans, Department of Homeland Security’s disaster preparedness website.