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Hurricane Safety and Preparedness

Updated on October 29, 2012
A street like this can flood in minutes.
A street like this can flood in minutes. | Source

Hurricane Safety: Avoid Stupid Advice

There's been quite a few posts around the internet about Hurricane Sandy and how to stay safe. Some of the articles have great information, while others have potentially life threatening information disguised as sage wisdom. As someone who has lived through a few hurricanes and tropical storms, I'm going to tell you how to take care of yourself.

First of all, food and water are essential. If you live on a well system – go ahead an fill up jugs of water while you can. Do not fill up your bathtub if you have small children. Two liter bottles work great, so if you are saving bottles for the returns – fill them up now. Areas that may be flooded can end up with contaminated water supply, so fill up jugs and bottles, too.

Don't go out and buy a ton of milk and bread unless you plan to use it now. Bread will last longer than the milk, but without anything to put on it bread makes a dull meal. Buy peanut butter for the bread. Jelly is okay without being in the fridge until it is opened. Lunch meat will need to be kept cold, so skip that. Brick cheese is good at room temperature – in fact the flavor is best then. Keep in an airtight container.

If you plan on buying food on a last minute run, keep in mind that the power may be out for a while. Only buy things that will not go bad quickly.

Next – safety is a prime concern for anyone in the path of a hurricane. Move all items that can blow away indoors, in a garage, or sheltered area. Tie down anything that can't be moved. Anything blowing in the wind causes a safety hazard for you and others in your area.

If you have plywood or paneling lying around, nail it across any large windows facing the direction the wind will be coming from. This can help prevent breaking from wind or debris. It is not a fail-safe, but can provide a small measure of safety in case of breakage. Glass is less likely to fly into the living areas.

Something I would like to address concerning safety in a hurricane or any other storm that may bring flooding. If you live in an area where it may flood – do NOT go into your basement. Flash flooding can push a home off its' foundation which will injure or cause tragic, fatal results for anyone in a basement. When there is flooding, you will need to be on higher ground. A basement is not higher ground, nor should it be considered a safe haven during a hurricane.

Hurricane Sandy is a very dangerous storm. The surge is estimated to be higher than any other hurricane to hit the North East coast of the United States in a very long time. There is no substitute for common sense. Use the following basic list to help you stay safe.

  1. Non-perishable food (cooked on grill outdoors after winds have passed)

  2. Water supply (jugs/bottles)

  3. Tie down yard items/move

  4. Cover windows in path of wind (if possible)

  5. Avoid the outdoors and windows during peak wind

  6. NEVER hide in the basement in flood prone areas

  7. Light source (battery powered, candles as last resort)

  8. First aid kit

  9. Charge mobile phone.

  10. Bag with essentials by door (for each family member)

  11. Pet food (enough for a week)

A first aid kit isn't hard to put together. Bandages, topical antibiotic, cloth tape, butterfly sutures, large cloth compresses. Add in pain killers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. Aspirin is important in case of a stroke or heart attack. All of the items can be purchased at a dollar store. Keep in a large zip top bag or other waterproof case.

Be safe and avoid information that can kill you. Visit the following Red Cross site for more in depth information.

Please share tips in the comments if you have lived through hurricanes and remember – this is a monster in an area people are not familiar with hurricane safety.


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