As I sit in my office in beautiful Clearwater Florida, Hurricane Irma, a destructive category 5 is barreling its way toward the state. On Monday, Labor Day, the bliss of rest and relaxation was interrupted by the Governor declaring a state of emergency.
Visit the National Hurricane Center for more information and updates.
Over the past few days, we’ve experienced gas stations without gas, no bottle water and shelves without can goods, bread and other staples. Wednesday morning at 6am and I found long lines at my local gas station and waited almost 30 minute to fill my tank. At 6:45am, I went to the supermarket thinking I was going to get ahead of the crowd – nope there were 50-60 people already in line. We could see the water bottle packs stacked up inside. I was able to get a few 24 packs of water but still no bread.
As of Friday, the hurricane seems to be heading more west but that’s not confirmed and since the system is bigger than the state, being prepared is vital no matter where you are.
I have been through a few hurricanes since moving to Florida but it’s been several years and I have to admit I feel out of practice and a little nervous. Living in Florida you know to have plenty of flashlights, lanterns and candles (I use prayer candles in glass they last for 100 hours and are cheap). We lose power a few times a year since most of our power lines are above ground. With a hurricane looming, it’s a good idea check them all and get extra batteries.
Things to do to be ready for a hurricane:
- Pinellas County – my county – has a Ready Pinellas app available at the Apple store and Google Play – It’s great. Shows your hurricane evacuation zone, offers a readiness checklist and many other tips.
- Check for your Florida county’s information to find out about alerts, sandbags, evacuation, etc.
- Know your zone – Luckily I’m in a non evac zone but my sister didn’t’ realize her zone had changed (and not for the better). So go on your county’s emergency site and check.
- Get water – you need a gallon of water per person per day and extra if you have pets
- Fill your gas tank – not so easy right now here in Pinellas but keep trying
- Get cash
- Video your valuables – with most phones having a video feature – do a video of your valuables (inside and outside) for insurance in case you have damage.
- Be sure you have a First Aid kit
- Sandbags – if your area /home floods check your county’s emergency page for sandbag locations
- Fill bathtub with water (be sure to clean the tub first)
- Get ice to keep food and drinks cooled – you can keep in a cooler, your bathtub or even the washing machine and when it melts you’ll have more water
- Food – non-perishables for when the power goes out and food to eat while you’re waiting
- Do laundry – if the storm hits and you lose water you will wish you had
Whether you’re leaving or staying – pets know something is up when a storm or hurricane is coming and they get nervous and antsy. Do your best to keep them calm. (Our office mascots are doing fine so far). Be sure you pet has ID with your name and phone on them. And if you have time, get them micro chipped. If you evacuate – take your pet; if you can’t find a friend who is outside an evacuation zone who can take them. Buy extra pet food and be sure you have water for them. Have a photo of pet in case you lose them. And if you evacuate, bring a blanket/bed, favorite toy and crate if it’s not too big
If you are going to leave it’s a good idea to have a “Go Bag” ready with basics including clothes, medication, food, water, bedding, and personal hygiene products. Don’t forgot your phone charger (getting one with batteries is a great idea); cash is king after hurricanes since loss of electricity can happen. And don’t forget your important papers. Before you leave – turn off your utilities at the main switch and lock your doors and windows.
What to do if you’re staying put:
- If you’re staying and hunkering down (I never used the word hunker until I moved to Florida and went through a hurricane) – Board up your windows.
- Be sure you have all your important papers in high place in your home or in a water proof container. Take your computer off the floor. If you’re prone to flooding – put things up on couches, chairs, top of shelves, etc.
- If you have a generator – check it and be sure you have gas
- Get charcoal or propane to cook on your grill if you lose electricity – one year we cooked everything in our freezer since we lost power for three days.
- Supplies to have for cleanup include: garbage bags, rags and tarps, tap, ropes and bug spray. Bug sprays is so important after the storm when those pesky critters are everywhere and you’re outside working to clean up.
Final thought – get comfort food. Howling winds and blinding rain calls for foods that make you feel good. Me – it’s a nice cupcake. But whatever it is for you, have some on hand. You’d be surprise how much it can help when you’re feeling stressed.