If you are reading this it is likely you are thinking about getting your family prepared for emergencies and disasters . If not and you’ve come here to learn about crochet and other DIY projects, no worries they are here on a different page, but while you are here check out my previous post about why I’m running off topic for a couple of posts and why you should make your own Home Emergency Preparedness Kit. You can read all about that here:
In 2017 my family lived through Hurricane Harvey. If you don’t know about Harvey then you’re either way too young to be putting a kit like this together by yourself or you’ve lived under a rock. Or maybe us Texans just think we are the center of the world; who knows. Anyway, Hurricane Harvey rocked the entire coast of Texas. We were very fortunate that our home didn’t flood as many of our neighbors and friends lost everything. My husband and sister lived through being marooned in our small town with no way in or out for over a week. Luckily we had a Home Emergency Preparedness Kit and they had plenty of supplies to make it through fairly comfortably. A day before the storm hit Rockport, Texas we had decided that I was going to take our two-year-old son to my parents home in North Texas.
As we were away from the initial impact and the aftermath that rocked the coast I was given a unique opportunity to go with one of the first teams for Disaster Relief to Rockport. I got to see first hand the devastation and just how powerful Harvey was. Many of the beautiful beach homes I had seen in pictures were gone without a trace; businesses had disappeared in an instant, and so many people were left picking up the pieces. It’s there that I also saw the very best of humanity at work as thousands of people from all over the world poured their love and help onto this small town and surrounding communities. People who had never even heard of Rockport drove for hours on end through the night to bring cases of water and food. It was truly an amazing experience that I am honored to have shared with the residence there.
Ok I know you didn’t come here to read my experience story so let’s get on with it, but all this to say I have seen first hand what it took for some families to ride out a storm like Harvey and its aftermath on both fronts. From this experience along with others I have learned some tips and tricks for weathering out the storm and compiled them here for you. I will also be adding any suggestions from readers here so if you have a great tip I left out please share it in the comments below!
Before the Storm Hits
Look into your home insurance, review their limits and make sure they offer the amount of coverage you’ll need. Would anything not be covered if your home was victim to the hurricane? Do you need separate Hurricane Insurance or Flooding Insurance from your normal plan? It may be worth it to add a small charge to cover your home if you live near the coast.
In many disaster situations you don’t have a lot of time or awareness before the storm hits. That’s one reason it is important to always be prepared. However, with hurricanes in particular we usually have a good couple of days to prepare knowing it might come our way. This gives you some extra time to prepare so your first step is to check your Home Emergency Preparedness Kit as soon as you hear something might come your way and make sure it is ready. Make sure gas cans and propane tanks are filled and generators are in place. Run through your emergency plans with family members so everyone is on the same page.
In the hours leading up to tropical storm or hurricane fill one bathtub with water. This water can be used for hygiene, cleaning dishes, or other uses your clean water supply does not cover. If you have more than one tub you could fill up both or all, as long as your other tub is not your place to go in case of a tornado. (In our small home our second bathroom in the tub is the best shelter) You can also fill sinks, the washing machine, and any extra zip lock bags and bottles.
This one is good to have all the time but definitely do this leading up to a storm event. Place a small pitcher full of ice in your freezers. In case you are gone from your home this will tell you if the power went out and if the food is safe to eat inside. If you find the ice has melted and refrozen in a big block then the power went out for a long period of time and the food is bad.
As the storm gets close toss out any expiring food, clean litter boxes, empty all the trash, and remove anything else that may cause an odor when the A/C or other electric items are out.
Take a video of your house and it’s contents. Walk room to room opening cabinets, drawers, and closets. This will help if you need to make a claim later.
Don’t forget your pets! Where will they go during the storm and how will you keep them calm? We have a flock of chickens, which requires a totally different plan than say a dog or cat. It is easy to forget them when your running around trying not to freak out.
If you are in a direct path of the storm board up the windows. If you can’t do a full plywood on the outside treatment you need to place tarps, plastic sheeting, or blankets over the windows on the inside to stop broken window glass from coming in. There are many sources out there around Pinterest and Facebook that will tell you to tape the windows to keep them from breaking; don’t do it! This won’t keep the windows from breaking they will just break in larger pieces and then you’ll have giant glass pieces flying around at people instead of some small fragments. No fun.
Put up any unsecured items outside or tie them down. You don’t want a lawn chair coming through the window, or your neighbors window.
Do as much laundry and as many dishes as possible. This way you will have less stink around you for longer. It also keeps the sink and washer clean for water storage. Along the same vein, make sure everyone is showered before the storm hits.
If you have to evacuate then prepare your home for the storm by boarding up windows, turning off the gas and water, turning off electricity at the main, bringing in lawn furniture, and unplugging all appliances.
During the Storm
Stay inside away from windows, storm doors, skylights, or any other not solid wall. The best place to be is in an interior room on the base level.
If flooding is threatening your home turn off electricity at the main breaker.
If you lose electricity damage turn off all major appliances like the air conditioner and water heater to reduce damage.
Do not use electrical devices without a surge protector.
Do not go outside, even if it seems calm. The eye of the storm can be very deceiving and you don’t want to get caught on the other side. It is safest to stay inside until authorities have declared the storm has passed.
Be aware of lightning. It can strike more than ten miles from a storm and chances are the storm will be all around you. Even if it seems calm as long as those clouds are there it could happen.
Tornadoes often happen around a hurricane. Know your plan and have your shelter space ready if it is separate from where you are already riding out the storm.
Do not operate any grills, stoves, generators, or heaters indoors. Also be very careful using candles. Opt for flashlights when possible.
If flooding causes you to go up in your house DO NOT go to and stay in the attic. Get to the roof! So many people were stuck in their attics and drowned because they were trapped.
After the Storm
Stay inside until an official “all clear” has been given.
Do not turn on any appliances that are wet if you still have electricity.
Do not walk or drive through flood water! You don’t know what is in there. There may be no road! Or there may be some critters you don’t want to deal with. Turn around, don’t drown!
Do not approach fallen or low-hanging wires of any kind. Stay away from puddles with wires near or in them and do not touch trees or other object in contact with power lines.
Use phones for emergencies only. Call 911 for life-threatening situations only. Use Facebook or texting to relay info to friends and family to avoid clogging up the system.
Call the police department or utilities companies to report hazards such as downed power lines, broken gas or water mains, overturned gas tanks, or other dangerous situations.
Watch for weakened bridges, roads, tree limbs, or structures that could collapse.
Do not eat food that may have spoiled from a fridge or freezer. See the tip above to know. If the freezer food is spoiled the fridge food is too.
Call your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. They will respond to claims in the order they are received, so get on the list early.
If you experienced any damage that FEMA would cover register with them and save your registration number in your phone or email it to yourself so it will be handy.
Churches will likely be the front line of the recovery effort. Look for the large trucks and the yellow hats of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and they can point you in the right direction be it for a warm meal, clean laundry, or help cleaning out your home. These guys are usually the first to be called to respond and will know the whats what and the whos who of the process.
Be sure to wear proper gear while helping with clean up. N95 respirator masks, heavy duty gloves, and rubber boots are necessary to protect yourself from disease, infectious waste, or toxic debris like asbestos.
Is there anything I left out? Let me know in the comments and I will add it to the list to share with everyone! Thank you for letting me go off topic for a few posts and sharing this information with you! If you missed any of the previous posts you can find them below!
It’s Preparedness Season! Post 1 – The Intro
It’s Preparedness Season! Post 2 – The Essentials
It’s Preparedness Season! Post 3 – The Long List
It’s Preparedness Season! Post 4 – Family Emergency Binder
It’s Preparedness Season! Post 5 – Storage