Hurricane season has frequently been likened to the holiday season: you know it’s coming, refuse to plan, and at the last minute you scramble around in panic to find and buy what you need, and frequently fail.
Anyone who has lived in areas that experience “hurricane season” or, less dramatically known as “the rainy season”, can attest to the total insanity caused by local and national meteorologists who insist on instilling overblown panic with hourly reports of a tropical storm hundreds of miles offshore, with potential devastating consequences “if” it changes course or increases its speed.
How often can we possibly listen to the reports only to choose to ignore them when time after time, the Cat 5 we feared turned out to be a local rain shower? Sure, that’s great news, but after the 2017 hurricane season and the infamously devastating Irma virtually wiped out Puerto Rico and Key West at the tip of Florida, people were forced to take notice, especially after 12 years of annual threats with no hits.
Being perpetually prepared for the worst is infinitely better than last-minute panicking. By making certain your home is safe, and your family has everything it needs ahead of time, you can rest assured you have a greater chance of getting through a serious storm.
So, how do you properly prepare without the panic?
• Water and canned goods last for years. No need to overbuy every time there is a storm warning.
• Check your home insurance to make sure it’s up to date. Have you done renovations or purchased expensive items that need to be added to the policy?
• You don’t need to live in a flood zone to buy flood insurance. Make certain you understand exactly what will be covered if you suffer property damage.
• Keep enough cash in the house for at least a week’s worth of incidentals. The first thing to go is power, and once that’s down, you have lost the ability to use cash registers and ATMs. Once the panic begins, stores and ATMs actually run out of cash!
• If you have a generator, make sure it works. No sense pulling it out of the garage after the storm starts only to realize it won’t start or you don’t have enough gas.
• Have a first aid kit on hand. It should include at the very least gauze, bandages, tape, scissors, tweezers, antibiotic cream, aspirin, ice packs and heat packs.
• If you live in an evacuation zone, plan well ahead of time how you will accomplish this. Many families with pets refuse to leave because of the pets (even pet-friendly shelters are not the perfect solution). If this sounds like you, and you remain in your home, buy marine quality self-inflating life vests for each pet (and human!) – not every dog and cat are natural swimmers!
• Having a life raft on hand is a good idea, too. Once that water starts seeping into your home, it won’t stop. Prepare the raft and life vests and get out while you can.
• Make sure your car remains in good condition! Do you have a viable spare? New battery? Battery cables? Full tank? If you are forced to evacuate, your car may be your only hope.
• Buy a charcoal grill. Gas grills are notorious for malfunctions once they get wet or damp.
• Keep all important documents and sentimental memorabilia in waterproof containers year-round. Even if you currently have them in fireproof containers, your chances of experiencing a fire are minimal vs. the water damage you can expect six months out of the year. (Still, prefer fireproof? Once hurricane season is over, change them back to the fireproof boxes around Thanksgiving.)
Staying safe should never be a seasonal necessity. Planning ahead is much more efficient than panicking at the wrong time.