I’m a Florida native. Family lure has it I slept through Hurricane David as an infant. However, Dorian was my first time doing hurrican prep on my own. I got divorced last year and Hurricane Dorian kicked off my solo storm experience.
These tips are for if you decide to STAY for the hurricane. If you decide to evacuate, start the process ASAP to avoid insane traffic, gas shortages and overbooked hotels.
Step 1: Don’t freak out
The first rule of hurricane prep is not to freak out in the early days. These storms are unpredictable so just because early predictions show it heading your way doesn’t mean it’s actually going to come your way.
Step 2: Be prepared for it to be your only topic of conversation
No one will talk of anything else – at the grocery story, coffee shop, gym, wherever. My doctor’s office wrote little jokes on all the doors to try to lighten the mood.
Step 3: Inventory your existing supplies
I looked through the pantry and found I had plenty of food. Peanut butter, jelly, crackers, tuna, protein bars, olives, dried fruit, nuts. Make sure you have all your medication and pet supplies, too.
Step 4: Skip the hurricane prep madness in stores and order from Amazon
Once it seemed the storm was actually heading my way, I decided to skip the craziness in local stores and order my supplies from Amazon. I got flashlights, phone power bank, batteries, an emergency radio, and battery operated fans. I was careful to only get things that offered Prime shipping and would arrive ahead of hurricane Dorian. “Wow, I’m so smart!” I tooted my own horn. Ordering hurricane supplies online was so much better than battling crowds and waiting in line. I ordered everything I needed from the comfort of my house while binge watching Fleabag and 13 Reasons Why.
Step 5: Fill up your own water bottles.
Why buy water when you can fill up containers you already have? It’s cheaper, easier and better for the environment. I filled up pitchers, reusable water bottles and plastic storage containers. The bottles and containers went into the freezer. This will help keep food cold if electricity is lost. Then you just take out and thaw as needed – and if you’re in Florida like me, they’ll melt fast without air conditioning!
Step 6: Run out for junk food.
Multiple types of chips. The best cookies – Tate’s chocolate chip and Dewey’s lemon bar. And Coke Zero – regular and cherry.
Step 8: Get gas.
I hate getting gas. My tank was on empty. After finding most gas stations in our town already out of gas days before the storm, I went out late at night and waited in line half an hour to fill up.
Step 9: Realize your Amazon order isn’t coming and freak out.
The day my Amazon order was supposed to arrive, I got notification it was delayed. New delivery date was well after the storm. A meltdown followed.
Step 10: Go to multiple stores to get supplies.
Walmart, Target, CVS and Walgreens were all out of everything I needed. Meltdown strengthened with every failed shop. Finally, I hit Lowe’s, a place I’ve never been in on my own. I was able to find everything I needed except a phone power bank.
Step 11: Put up shutters.
I’m renting and my landlord lives in England and is fantastic. He had a maintenance company come put up shutters. Be prepared to sleep super late because it is DARK with the shutters up.
Step 12: Get more gas.
All of the running around for supplies used up a chunk of my gas, so I got back in line just before stations started closing up for the storm.
Step 13: Clean and launder everything.
If you lose electricity you won’t be able to use the dishwasher or washing machine/dryer. I caught up on mountains of laundry, washed all bedding and towels, and cleaned every dish. I also got the house put in order in case I needed to stumble around in the dark. My iRobot is named Steve and I put him to work, too.
Step 14: Make sure you have cash.
I never have cash on me, but luckily I just had two teenagers leave for college and some of their clothes were still in in the laundry. People say you should have cash after a hurricane “just in case.” I found $30 cash! At least it was something.
Step 15: Bring everything inside.
Stuff left outside becomes dangerous missiles in high winds. Bring in all patio furniture, bikes, hoses, trash cans, etc.
Step 16: Fill up the tub.
This is part of hurricane prep that has been drilled into us Floridians for generations. I’ve never had to use it, but the water from the tub can be used to flush your toilet if needed.
Step 17: Charge everything.
Make sure all phones, ipads, computers, etc. are all fully charged, even ones that you haven’t used in years. I put batteries in the fan and weather radio and charged my Womanizer.
Step 18: Build a hurricane basket.
I put flashlights, candles, lighters, weather radio, bottled water, granola bars, an apple and an an orange in a basket so everything is ready in case I lose electricity. Keep the basket with you once the storm starts.
Step 19: Turn your AC down low.
Yup, you’ll freeze the day before the storm, but the house will stay comfortable longer when power goes out.
Step 20: Relax and wait.
I went to the pool one last time before getting cooped up inside. Then I made a quick and easy dinner with perishable food left in the fridge. Salami and cheese. I also made myself a smoothie with frozen peaches, basil and lime juice. Then I chatted with Amazon customer service and got a refund for the items that weren’t delivered on time.
Hurricane prep is exhausting and stressful. Hurricane Dorian, in particular, is a slow moving storm. Turn on Netflix and relax while you wait. Just try not to eat all your hurricane snacks too soon!