It rolls around every year the beginning of June, Hurricane Season. Those of us who live in hurricane prone areas know what we are supposed to do. But do we? No. As human nature dictates we procrastinate. Yes, we procrastinate until a storm of substantial size approaches our vicinity. Then we put together a last minute plan and try to access the information we need: Are we in a flood zone? Are we in an evacuation area and where would we evacuate to? Then we rush around frantically to crowded and often empty-shelved stores to gather the necessary supplies we need. Why, do we do this every year? ? And if you have a self storage unit full of your precious possessions, do you know all those little details about the facility?
Having lost our home in 1992 to Hurricane Andrew, I know what it is like. That’s why this year, we are making a pledge not to wait, but to gather the information needed, make a plan and stock up on supplies early. There are some benefits getting your supplies early, will help reduce stress if a storm does approach. After all, you won’t have to run to the store along with the masses and you will have more time to batten down the hatches when you are instructed to act. Three, make it easier on your budget by gathering your supplies a little each time you go to the store. Supplies? What kind of supplies? Click here to access a list. Remember, supplies are needed for all household members for 72 hours. And since you’re gathering your supplies early, why stop there. Why not take some time during a weekend:
- Check and trim trees if necessary.
- Remove unwanted debris.
- Determine what needs to be brought in from the yard if a storm approaches.
- Check window shutters to make sure in working order or prepare plywood for window covering.
- Check and start up generator to make sure it is in working order.
After all the outside work is done, it’s time to organize and prepare in the event of a claim. One of the things I did back in 1992, was take a video of everything in my home: opening all drawers, cabinets and closets filming everything and zooming in of art and special items. Do the same with other property items or if you have property in a self storage unit. Having a video to review was especially helpful when submitting our insurance claim.
Another thing that was tremendously helpful after Hurricane Andrew was thawing, cooking and refreezing all the meat in our freezer prior to the storm. Having no electricity or generator those first few days, we were able to thaw out cooked chicken and meatloaf and eat it cold. Of course, we did everything else the officials suggested: getting cash, topping off gas tanks, putting up shutters, stocking up on water and batteries. Unfortunately, there were lots of things that we didn’t do, but wished we did. We learned the hard way; Now what I do is:
Scan all documents, put on jump drive or email to yourself:
- Insurance Documents: Homeowners, flood, vehicle, etc,
- Receipts for electronics, appliances, art work or collectables,
- Identification documents Birth certificates, driver’s license, vehicle registration, passports, etc. (Will still need to replace if lost, at least you have information) ,
- Prepare a listing of all credit cards information and phone numbers in case.
Protect family pictures/albums by double bagging and putting in a sturdy plastic bins; place in closet. Protect family collectibles by wrapping in dish/hand towels and place in sturdy plastic bins; place in closet. Freeze small water bottles to fill up empty space in refrigerator and freezer; keeps cold longer.
In hurricane seasons following Hurricane Andrew, I stored all my hurricane supplies in a large, sturdy plastic garbage can: flashlights, lanterns, cans of Sterno, blue tarps, Ziploc bags and because my children were small, life jackets for each, just in case. Thankfully, the kids outgrew the jackets without ever having to use them in a hurricane. Once a storm approached, I would empty my supplies and ready them, then put my double-bagged photo albums in the garbage can and secure it in an interior closet.
Young children are especially hard hit by Hurricanes and other disasters. Talk to your kids and help them understand what is happening: their mental well being is very important. Don’t make the mistake I did and tell small children “everything is going to be okay”. Because “everything is going to be okay” to kids means everything is as it was before the storm and no one can guarantee that. Instead, I engaged my children; making them a part of your hurricane preparations and having them help out. You would be surprised at how much kids can help; they can gather small yard items to be secured inside, clean out and fill water bottles, help with food prep and more. Have the children fill a plastic bin of their special items that they want safeguarded. After all, if you have stuff you want saved, chances are so do the kids. Involving the kids helps give them a sense of control and just reassure them that everyone is doing all they can do to prepare. By having a plan, preparing early and engaging the entire family will help put you in a better place if a storm approaches.