Not everyone has hundreds of extra money sitting around to spend prepping for a hurricane, but here are some things you can do that are either free or don’t cost very much.
#1 Do your laundry. Your roof probably has a low chance of getting ripped off, but losing power for several days should be expected. Take advantage of your washing machine before the storm so you’re not wearing the same nasty clothes 3 days after the hurricane. Remember you will be sweating a lot since you won’t have air conditioning.
#2 Relocate your lawn ornaments. Weather they are garbage, tree limbs, furniture, or actual decorations, anything that looks like it would smash through your window probably will. Move it inside, throw it in your pool or secure it somewhere before the storm relocates it for you (hopefully not through your window).
#3 Fill up your refrigerator and freezer as full as you can with water bottles. If you can’t afford or get a hold of water bottles you can fill zip loc bags, pots, pans or anything that holds water and put it in there. Remember not to fill them all the way if you’re putting them in a freezer since water expands when it freezes. Do this at least 24 hours before the storm hits so the refrigerator will have time to cool all of that stuff down. This will buy you time after you lose power and keep your food cold longer, remember not to open the doors unless you need to and don’t keep them open long. Its recommended to have at least 3 gallons of water (24 water bottles) per person of drinking water.
#4 Fill up your vehicle with gas. Go fill it up today while the gas station still has gas. The closer it gets to the storm hitting people will all go to the gas station and they will sell out of gas. If you get down to 3/4 of a tank, fill it up again.
#5 Get a car charger for your phone. You can buy these at the $1 store if you don’t already have one. Since your cable tv and computers won’t work anymore your cell phone is probably your best way of receiving information about the storm or communicating with anyone after the power grid goes down. Since you have gas in your car, you will be able to charge your phone for several days.
#6 Food that doesn’t require refrigeration. If you live somewhere where you can’t hit your neighbors house if you throw a rock, you are probably going to lose power for more than a week. This long without power anything in your refrigerator is probably bad (or you already ate everything). Even if you have a generator, you should consider picking up some canned food. If you’re really strapped for cash or can food is sold out another option is dry beans and regular rice. Most of the world survives on rice and beans. It is extremely cheap, doesn’t require refrigeration, and has protein and carbohydrates to keep your energy up while you’re outside with your neighbors chopping up all the trees in the road. Print out or write down some recipes before you lose internet, remember you will have to soak the beans for a while before you can eat them.
#7 Fire. You won’t be able to just microwave food or pull into a drive thru when you’re hungry and eating uncooked food is dangerous. Get some propane or charcoal and a few boxes of matches. If you don’t have a BBQ grill, there is a very high chance one of your neighbors has one. If you have fuel to offer, they probably won’t mind you using it, make some friends.
#8 Dig out your old board games from your mom’s attic. Especially if you have kids, you will probably be miserable. You won’t have air conditioning or a fan so it will be hard to sleep and video games or watching movies isn’t an option. Make sure you have at least a deck of cards, a book or some kind of entertainment to take your mind off of how miserable you are.
#9 Vices and comfort food. Stock up on the things you like to keep your morale up after the storm. If you smoke – buy extra cigarettes, if you drink 10 sodas a day – buy a couple 24 packs, same for you alcoholics out there (don’t lie to yourself). Stock up on whatever you like weather its beer, coffee or chicken nuggets. You are going to crave whatever it is so you’re better off already having it.
#10 Tampons and Ibuprofen. You’re going to need the Ibuprofen for your hurricane party hangover if nothing else. Wipes, toilet paper and paper towels probably aren’t a bad idea either.
#11 Soap. Your dishwasher will be conveniently replaced by your own 2 hands. Make sure you have some dish soap, bleach, and a sponge or brush to clean your dishes, so you don’t get sick.
Stage 2 – Here are some extra things to consider getting if you have already finished steps 1-11.
#12 – Leather work gloves, safety glasses, work boots, protective equipment. People who have worked in construction know how dangerous it can be using tools and equipment. There will a lot of debris all over the place and getting injured is a lot more serious if the roads are blocked and you can’t get to a medical facility. Take a few extra minutes to do things safely when clearing debris and using chainsaws – you will have plenty of time. Wear leather gloves when picking up debris, safety glasses, jeans (and chainsaw chaps if available) and work boots when using axes or saws. Take time to really look around the area for hazards like down power lines and anything that can fall on you before starting anything.
#13 – Generator security. If you have a generator make sure you have a bike lock or something to secure it with. People will try to steal it. Back in hurricane Charley, someone was stealing generators by taking peoples’ lawnmowers over to where the generators were, then starting up the mower so there was still engine noise while they took off with the generator. Remember not to run any gasoline engine (including your car) inside your garage or anywhere under the roof of your house, because you will die. Even if the garage door is open, drive the car outside or put the generator completely outside.
#14 – Boarding up. If you’re area is about to get hit with a category 3+ hurricane you should seriously consider boarding up your windows. If something smashes through your window at over 110 mph, not only is it a huge hazard, but the wind blowing through that window will push up on your ceiling and could rip your roof off. Getting plywood before a major hurricane is almost impossible, so if you know you are going to get hit hard screw a wooden fence over your windows or whatever you can find.
#15 – Evacuating. Category 1-2 hurricanes usually aren’t too serious unless you are on the coast or in a flood zone. People who have hurricane shutters or wood already will put them up, but generally if you just stay inside and complete steps 1-11 you will be ok. If your local government is telling you to evacuate, you definitely should. If you are about to experience a category 3+ hurricane, which is considered a ‘major hurricane’ I would consider visiting a friend that lives in a different state. You definitely don’t want to get caught on the road in the storm, so make sure you have enough time to safely exit the area. Category 4+ hurricanes are no fucking joke and should be taken seriously – people will die and devastating damage will occur.