Hurricane tips - please add yours!

rosieo(7 NC)May 18, 2005

I wrote these last year after Frances and Jeanne hit us dead on. Mostly they're a listing of what I did that I was glad of and what I wish I had thought of earlier.

I collected my most valuable possessions and stored them in the dryer and the dishwasher, reasoning that water can't easily get in and they're too heavy to blow away. I also put my purse in there. A front loading washer would work too, but with a top loader water would drip in.

I repacked my Christmas decorations from cardboard boxes to sturdy rubbermaid containers and wedged them into tight closets. I thought of this after reading a news report with a man who found someone else's Christmas decorations strewed all over his front yard.

I bought some large plastic containers to put my favorite clothes and things in, because the rain is your worst problem if your house is damaged.

Because we had gas shortages for about a week after the hurricane I was especially glad we'd topped off our cars beforehand. I also bought a good laminated state map just in case I evacuated.

I figured out in advance how to bolt my electric garage door down.

I put my insurance policies in a zip lock bag in my purse.

I keep all my especially precious mothers day presents in a curio cabinet so it was easy to gather them all up to put in the dishwasher.

I bought extra diapers and wipes beforehand so I didn't have to make an emergency trip after the storm when it wasn't safe to go out. I figured the wipes might come in especially handy if the water went out.

This time I didn't buy all those cans of spam and soup because I don't eat that stuff anymore, and I'd have to be practically starving to eat them. I did lay in a good supply of fruits and other fresh foods and gave a lot of thought to what canned food I actually WOULD eat.

I filled all sorts of bottles and jars with drinking water and put them in the freezer and fridge to help keep food cold when the power went out. Thankfully my water didn't go out because I realized I didn't have enough bottled water. I drink more than I thought!

What I'll do better next time -

I'll store more water!

I wish I had bought something to heat water in when my electricity went out, because I really missed my tea! Maybe one of those alcohol burners.

I'll get more cash because the banks were closed for over a week here and because of no power the stores couldn't take credit cards even when they did reopen.

I'll decide in advance under which conditions I'll evacate. Last time I tried just praying for guidance which didn't seem to work so well, probably because I had too much adrenaline to think clearly. Although, maybe it worked well because I didn't feel especially led to leave, which was good in retrospect.

My husband's job requires him to be at work during a hurricane so I was home alone with a toddler. I was listening to the radio when a tornado was spotted a half mile away. In about 30 seconds I single handedly wrestled a heavy mattress through two rooms and a narrow hallway and stuffed it into a small closet so we could hunker under it. (It took two men to get it back out though!) Next time I'll have DH do that before he leaves!

I'll vacuum the house thoroughly before the storm. Strangely that was one of the things that bothered me the most about not having electricity. I couldn't vacuum! What can I say, I'm old I guess!

Please add anything else you can think of to this list. Then we can cut and paste it all together and put it on the fridge. Because I've found that under pressure I can't think coherently and need a list!

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witch1031(z9 - SW Volusia)

My #1 tip is to clean the house inside and out and do every bit of laundry you can find. Make sure everything is dry because jeans don't dry well in 100% humidity.

Clean out the fridge and freezer and use baking soda to wash down the inside and all the shelves.

Make sure you have a current utililty bill in your name handy in case there are curfews. After Frances, it was the only way the police would let us back into our neighborhood.

When Charley hit and we lost power for a week, having the house dirty made it much much worse.

Your top loading washing machine makes a great cooler. Pack it with ice, the water will drain out as it melts. We used our coolers for food and the washer for beer and drinks.

Have a plan for your pets. We're buying a second crate as we adopted a new dog this year and if we have to evacuate, he'll need his own crate. Carriers for the cats.

Call your insurance company BEFORE the storm hits. Make sure you have all the info you need for a claim. We did that before Frances and found out our hurricane deductible was only $200.

Good luck and everyone stay safe!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 10:06AM
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One thing that came in really, really handy was our tiny solar powered garden lights. When we had no power and boarded up windows these made for great night lights, and in the morning we just set them outside to recharge. Also stock up on snacks and reading material.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 10:18AM
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fuzzy(6b northern AR)

If something's headed our way, check out the Tropical Analysis forum at

And pay close attention to a poster there named Derek Ortt. He's a professional (here's his org)and was more accurate on all the hurricanes last year than the NHC predictions.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 10:56AM
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Here's one I learned from a co-worker whose family has lived in Florida for 4 generations: Cook up something big, like a turkey or a large pork roast, before the storm hits.

Have lots of bug spray on hand. If you lose power it's much more comfortable to sleep outside, but if your patio screens are torn up you'll need the bug spray to get through the night!

Stock up on prescription medication. If the stores are closed for a while you might not be able to get a refill on time and even after they re-open it may be a while before they can restock.

You probably all know this one, but I didn't know it when I first moved to the state: toss all your patio furniture in the pool. It prevents it from blowing around and the chlorine in the pool will clean it up!

If you have a pool, get extra chlorine. The pool will get nasty fast if the pumps aren't working so you may want it to help keep the pool clean. And if you need to resort to using pool water for drinking, a few drops of chlorine in a gallon of water will make it safe to consume.

Make sure now that your first aid kit is fully stocked. You may not be able to contact emergency services and they may not be able to get vehicles in to you, so you have to be prepared to handle whatever happens. Get a good first aid book if you don't have one. Know how to bandage a laceration. You and your neighbors will be using chain saws, hand saws and hatchets to cut up trees - expect to see some injuries, heat exhaustion, dehydration, etc. Be prepared so you can be calm when it happens.

Stock up on chocolate, too. Just because.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 11:37AM
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TimmyB(z9b Florida)

Great conversation!

If you have a gas grill make sure you have a full tank. Better yet have an extra tank or two.

Coffee can be made on the grill or on a gas stove. Put the filter and grounds into your normal coffee pot. Boil water in a pot and then pour it slowly over the grounds.

If you drink bottled water save up a couple dozen empty bottles. Fill them up and freeze them before hand. They last longer then ice and will keep the food that you are keeping cool out of the water in the bottom of your cooler.

Great idea on making a big dish before the storm hits. We made up a big batch of hearty minestrone soup, then we froze meal sized portions.

Only plastic patio furniture should go into the pool. Metal patio furniture almost always has something, like screws or welds, that can rust and stain the pool.

If you keep cars in your garage park them so they actually touch the garage door. If you have a car that you leave outside of the garage, park it so that it will sheild some of the wind off the garage door.

If you don't have or can't get a generator buy a power inverter that plugs into a car. You can get a 300 watt inverter for $20 and it can be used to power all sorts of low draw stuff. Larger inverters can even run a TV or microwave.

Don't run any gasoline engines inside the house or even inside the garage. Carbon monoxide KILLS.

Even if your house experiences no obvious damage from the hurricane it could still have experienced water intrusion. Rain driven sideways against the side of your house has a funny way of finding it's way into your house. After the storm pull furniture away from all your exterior walls and check for moisture. Check the underside of your roof for water stains.

Don't improvise storm shutters. It is actually worse to put up flimsy shutters then to have no shutters. One neighbor put up thin masonite board over his windows. One of them flapped so much in the 80mph winds that it broke out one of his windows.

Don't tape your windows. Tape adds no tangible strength to the windows and is a real pain to get off afterwards.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 12:28PM
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Outstanding ideas ! The solar light idea was genius. Why didn't I think of that last year ?? Now those are coming in the house with us instead of being lost in the pile of stuff thrown in the shed . There are 4 night lights right there !

Can't have too many D cell batteries .

You will use A LOT more water to flush toilets than you can ever imagine ! Fill your tubs . Fill the largest cooking pots you have and keep them on the stove top to use up first .

The oven makes a great place to keep valuables safe . Just don't forget and later turn on the oven without looking !

Have your phone and power bills handy . Those have the numbers to call to report outages.

Cell phones linked to towers can have problems . If you can't reach local numbers try calling out of state relatives and see if that works . Then have them call the person you need locally for you .

Put out a large barrel or drum to collect rain water especially if you get run off from a roof . This water can be used for bathing and flushing the toilet. Add bleach to keep out bacteria and mosquitos.

Candles are nice but don't use them indoors. It is incredibly easy to accidently burn down your house . Stock up on matches and lighters too for use with grills and light.

Large sterno cans and a small camping grill will help you heat up water for coffee. I even have a camping coffee pot that brews coffee . Nothing tastes better the morning after a hurricane night than a fresh cup of coffee !

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 2:04PM
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These are all great ideas and I thank you! We moved to Florida exactly one week before Charley and we still didn't have our furniture, thank goodness. Now that we have patio furniture on the lanai, I'll have to remember to toss it in the pool.

We were without electric and water for 3 days, and compared to some I consider us lucky. We used buckets of pool water to flush the toilets. We also used the pool as our air conditioning and we looked like prunes after a few days!

My husband loves any electronic gadget and he just had to have a battery operated television. It sure came in handy when we were locked in our closet with no other communication.

I agree that candles are unsafe. We have some battery operated camping lanterns that provide lots of light. Have lots of batteries on hand. Get to the Flea Market and stock up.

Have your camera handy with plenty of film.

Since we had no furniture, we were sleeping on queen size blow-up camping mattresses. The better ones come with a hand pump which we bought at Wally World. If you decide to sleep on the lanai, it beats the hard ground. While you're in the camping department, how about a screen room?

Thank you for all the great ideas. I'm making a copy of all these ideas and I'm cleaning out the closets to make room to camp out!


    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 6:54PM
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We were extremely lucky not to ever lose power in any of the storms, but I've been in plenty of hurricanes in my life, being from the Carolinas, and that includes Hugo, so I've learned a couple of really important things.

The MOST important thing is water.

Remember, you will need 3 gallons of water per day, per person. That's a lot of water if you have a large family, so start finding stuff to hold it all. Also, you'll need water for your pets. And food. Stock up on pet food way in advance. I already have two weeks worth of food for my pets stored.

If you have to evacuate in a hurry, pack the water into the vehicles first! It will be THE MOST important thing after the storm. Ask anyone who went through the storms and was trapped in their home with no water for days. You can buy new stuff, but not if you die of thirst.

Get all the cash you can out of the bank, especially if you bank with a small local bank. They take much longer to get back online. Get more than you think you will need, because if your area is destroyed, you are going to have to get to somewhere else, and gas is expensive. Motels may be open, but if the phone lines are down, they won't take credit cards.

Speaking of gas, fill up your tank as soon as you know the storm is headed to your general area, and keep it topped off daily. I evacuated for Ivan, and I made the decision not to ever go further than a quarter tank down before I filled up. It was a good decision, because I was running into empty pumps and closed stations everywhere. If I had waited until I had no gas, I would have been sitting on the side of the road. Also, if the stations start rationing gas, you won't need to spend all your time searching for gas, because you'll have enough to get to one.

Someone says they no longer eat SPAM, etc., and are going to stock up on fresh fruits and stuff. Well, even in a cooler, they don't keep very long, especially with no electricity, so just remember, you'll eat anything if you're hungry enough. If you want fruits and veggies, fine, but buy canned ones. Just in case. Dried fruits and veggies are great too. Chocolate is good, not only because it tastes good, but it gives you energy and increases your seratonin other words, it calms you down.

A pair of heavy boots is good to walk around in after the storm, due to all the debris and broken glass. Hot and not too comfortable, but much safer. Don't try to drive in an area where there is a lot of glass and debris. I went to Punta Gorda after Charley in a pickup with heavy duty tires, and came back with a piece of fiberglass stuck in one tire. After Hugo, a news truck from Florida went through three sets of tires driving over all the glass and debris on the roads. Don't forget to pack a couple of cans of that quick tire repair foam, in case you get a nail. Also, get a hand pump, like a bike pump. You may just need it.

But my best advice is, if a category 3 or above is headed at you, GET OUT. Take your kids, your pets, and whatever else you can cram into the car, and GO.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 8:31PM
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cindeea(FtMyers 10)

CANDLES! Yikes I learned years ago of their dangers from one of my cat's tails brushing against it and knocking it over. Luckily, I was there to save the day! I used to collect antique glass oil lamps, I've still a few that I place in sinks and bath tubs for light in the kitchen and baths-out of harms way.

"Stock up on chocolate, too. Just because." Solstice98-this cracked me up! Both my burly guys (Father and son) are sweet freaks. When I saw their tensions rising or their nerves getting frazzled, I dove into my stash for a treat for them and it calmed them down!

The gas grill can be your best friend. We now have 4 propane tanks that we keep filled. We had plenty of easy fix hamburgers, hotdogs and chicken in the freezer.

We had one of our 2 fridges on the generator. The one that wasn't hooked up, we stashed all the frozen food in it we would not consume for a while and added Ice blocks and then duct taped the door shut to keep the cold in for when we were without power-almost a week I think. Everything we would likely use went into the fridge on the generator. We also had large coolers packed with ice for beverages and snacks and right now items so we weren't opening the fridge and letting the cold out.

Thanks everyone for sharing. We made it thru last year, we will do it even better this one. My prayers to those whose homes are still in emergency state as we come up to the new hurricane season. If we can do anything for you, please let us know. At this point I only know to pray for you. God bless!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 8:55PM
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blue_hues(9-9b FL)

Boy do I remember the hum of all the generators in the niehborhood. I want to make sure everything is in working order from last year. Generators, flshlights, etc. They are already talking about a storm out there in the orlando sentinal today. The season is here again, and we can't think last year was just a fluke.
For food we bought alot of peanut butter. Crackers and pretzels. Plus alot of stuff mentioned already. There are always good alternatives to Spam. Like Tuna, Chicken, Crab, and alot of these now come in ready to mix servings that don't need a can opener, nor a refrigerator.
I have all of my pictures in one place. They are my most important sentimental thing. I can replace most everything else, but it always breaks my heart to see someone on TV after a disaster picking through the ruble to find family photos.
Water is THE most important thing. I think that can't be repeated enough. Having enough saved, is never enough. So save more. There are alot of ideas I will be using this year in preparing. It will be much less stressful if we know where our flashlights, batteries etc are. This was a good reminder to get started.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 1:27AM
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hopeful_in_Brevard(z9b FL)

What a bunch of great ideas! The washing machine cooler, dryer and dish washer storage and also useing solar garden lights in the house for night lights. My daughter said she used glow sticks. She said they didn't give a lot of light but enough to get around in the dark. Kerosene lamps and a camping lantern helped us out. My husband wants to buy a little battery operated black and white TV to keep up with whats going on. We were unintentionaly evacuated during both Frances and Jean. My husband was receiving a liver transplant at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Our hotel did lose power and we were in the dark for several nights. They were supposed to have a generator but they said they gave it to someone else to use. I suspect one of the management. Even the hall security lights were off. Talk about dark.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 12:44PM
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I was hoping that if I hopped over here you'd all have a thread going! You all rock!
I just put together my supplies, i.e. The Kit. It's stored in a closet and I will never, never again be without The Kit (last year I was on travel when Frances arrived - the red-eye flight home put me at my door hours after the evacuation was mandated).
I've been in Brevard County for 35+ yrs and last year was the first time I've boarded up --- that was the night of the red-eye (by 6:00 am I was on my way to Jacksonville - what a night --- or is that nights). I have a list that includes foods, pantry, first-aid, auto-aid, pet, repair and survival gear. June 1, I restock all the foods, then take all these items, pack them in milk crates and throw them in a closet. I'm ready --- may that not be words to eat. I have not invested in a generator --- I love the heat and don't mind considering eating protein bars, foil-packed tuna, PBJ for a month. That means I don't have to worry about grill, propane, power, etc. For me, that makes the prospect of a storm a little less stressful.
The only things I can add to your list that might be somewhat unique:
remove art from walls and place between mattress/box and wrap it all in a drop cloth (or plastic/no-wet sheet)
use tiki-torches outside for extra lighting
have a roll of window screen & duct tape for temp broken window cover
have a large (really large) tarp, roofing nails and a couple tack strips in case you have some minor ??? roof damage
extra items in a personal kit: sewing kit, nail clippers (hate hang nails), sports watch (w/alarm), sunscreen, neck wrap w/those keep-cool beads
I have more items --- but just thinking about the list with work boots, spray paint, dust mask, crow bar is too scary to list ....

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 5:07PM
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Scary indeed. I concur with packing the pictures. They were the second thing that went into our vehicles, after the water. Good tip about the pictures between the mattresses.

I have a large stack of bricks outside that were given to me, and I think I'm going to use them this year to put everything up off the floor. I'm not going to do anything with them until after the storms anyway.

I wish I could afford a generator, but I can't, so I guess if I lose all power, I'll just have to suffer.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 7:59PM
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I was thinking about this thread yesterday as I was out mowing the lawn . It dawned on me that mowing was one of the things on my hurricane prep list . Before each storm last year I mowed and was I ever glad I did!
After the weather cleared , mowing was the LAST thing I wanted to do and it was so nice to have that chore done beforehand. Made it easier to clear the yard of fallen limbs, branches, twigs , sticks and leaves - in the millions !

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 6:58AM
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manature(9B Sanford, FL)

This is a wonderful thread and when I get home, I'm going to print it all out for reference. I can only add one or two things...don't forget that wind-up radio we talked about in another thread. You can find them forsale online if you do a Google for FreePlay radio. It runs on solar energy when you are outside and has a crank to wind it up when it's dark or you are inside. It will run an hour or more with one crank, and it is invaluable to have a source of info that does not require electricity or batteries. And on the subject of water, unless your tap water is undrinkable all the time, I recommend NOT using your money to buy bottled water. Just have loads of clean containers on hand to fill up with your FREE tap water. We fill all our bathtubs for use in flushing toilets and to dip out water to have sponge baths with. We also fill the empty (WELL CLEANED) plastic containers that our kitty litter comes in for more "utility" water. Gallons and gallons. AND we have several large 5 gallon water containers (some with spigots) that we use when we are camping. Those, plus every canteen we own, get filled with our drinking water. I have too many things I really need to spend our money on to pay for bottled water, so this really helps us. I agree that frozen containers (like milk jugs) of water last longer than ice, and if you put plenty of them in your freezer, you can keep frozen foods frozen solid for several days, and cold enough to stay fresh for several more.

We have both gas grills (Large ones and portable ones) and camping stoves that run on propane in several sizes, so cooking outside is not a problem. But I hated having to go out to make tea or coffee in the morning when it was still raining, etc, so this year, I'm ordering a butane stove is a single burner that runs on a butane cartridge and is safe to use indoors. I can at least make coffee, heat soup, etc, on that for quickie meals indoors. It is big enough to use a frying pan on, too, for quick burgers, etc.

Thanks to all of you for such good ideas. Let us pray we don't have the disasters of last year visited on us again, BUT, as someone used to say: Pray for a good harvest, but keep on plowing. So while I pray we DON'T get hit, I'm gonna keep on being prepared, as best I can. It makes it much less frightening when the limbs are dropping on the roof when you know you have taken all the precautions you can think of.

Good luck everyone!!!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 11:08AM
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Nicki(z9 FL)

Great stuff, guys. I'm getting very good tips from you. I guess the only thing I can add is stock up on those heavy duty contractor grade garbage bags. They are very thick - you can use them to keep things dry, and they're tough as nails when clean up time comes.

Get ID tags for all your pets, and keep their paperwork (current vaccinations) with your important papers. If you need to evacuate and take the pets, some places won't let them in without proof of current vaccinations. I also keep an extra bottle of kitty antibiotics handy. And extra Advantage for fleas.

If you have questionable trees - ones that have a lot of dead branches, or ones that look weak, get them taken care of now. I'm sure none of us have problem trees, but look around at your neighbors and nicely bring it to their attention if they have a dangerous tree.

That's all I can think of. So many brilliant tips here. Love the extra screening and duct tape for broken windows...


    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 2:11PM
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Nicki(z9 FL)

Another tip I remembered from reading the other Hurricane thread just a minute ago... if you lose your power, turn your breakers off! Someone on the other thread was commenting on how their fuse box sizzled when power is restored. Turn your breakers off if you lose power - it's much safer that way.

Of course, it's much more difficult to know when power is restored...

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 2:51PM
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I'm so happy to see this post. Last year we thought we had everything we could possibly need. When our dd called and said she had ran out of bath tissue. She had gone shopping and in the rush to get things done forgot. Glad we had extras. I also purchased a few boxes of wipies (baby kind)which we use regularly and are great to have. I also purchased some of that non-refrigerated milk that comes in cartons.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 7:59PM
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An emergency hand cranked (can also use regular batteries or ac)radio with weather band (so you can still know what's going on with the storm if power goes out) and with a lantern. This way you can avoid all the long lines and the running around looking for batteries at the last minute

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 10:23PM
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Great ideas - especially the solar garden lights! One thing that came in very handy was some rope and clothes pins for a makeshift clothesline. At least things could drip dry a little - mildew will ruin anything damp. Amazing how much you miss you washer & dryer with no power.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 10:31PM
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Irma_StPete(z9 FL)

And if you get everything above done and are still waiting for the storm to hit....vacuum! Better to be marooned in a clean house than a yucky one!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 10:50PM
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barbcoleus(z10 Cape Coral,Fl)

My husband bought one of the phones which don't use electricity so when we did not have electricity for eight days I could still call people up and complain about how hot and sweaty I was. (Some of their cell phones were not working)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 11:08PM
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Delene6(n.e. fla)

The one thing I forgot about last year was that my can opener is electric and old crank one in the garage was useless. Get a good canopener.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 2:30PM
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I was shopping at my favorite thrift store today and found a battery operated clock/radio that uses AA batteries...much easier to find then C and D if the occasion should arise. I also have a couple of flashlights that run on AA's. My old battery operated clock/radio decided that it wouldn't work last year. I bought it for Georges, but never changed the battery, so I guess it must have ruined the connections or something.

Also must bought a new charcoal grill. $19.99 at Big Lots for a nice size one.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 6:18PM
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florajilly(9b FL)

Wow ! So many ( other ) Floridians did not plan properly. This whole list should be mailed to every household !!
I'll just add a few thoughts.
We have a water cooler in our kitchen. The kind that takes those 5 gal. blue bottles. I put a full unopened water bottle into our chest freezer , along with a dozen- gallon bottles and many single size. These all acted like giant ice cubes , which was handy because our power was out for 9 days here in Vero Beach , then 7 days for the following hurricane.
If you use these 5 gal bottles , don't do what I did -fill it full and freeze it solid. Their plastic doesn't expand like the usual 1 gal. and the darned thing split in the freezer. Then there was a water mess inside.
I made homemade soup and stew. It's sure better than canned.
Speaking of canned the specially marked labels for schools. Can you imagine last fall , how many Box Tops for Education went into the garbage ?
We purchased extra plywood , tarps and sheet plastic for friends/neighbours who were less fortunate. My husband has an excellent cordless drill set. We loaned ourselves or our drill several times. What goes around comes around. Many people were generous to us.
The generator noise was unpleasant at night. Some folks don't plan where they place them in their yards ,and you can end up with one near your bedroom window.
I'm willing to bet , that most people did not 'break in' their new generators properly. How many are going to run old gasoline through .
We had a battery operated bubbler for the fish aquarium , and plenty of small animal bedding.
Indian River County had a ban on alcohol sales. It can happen in your area !!! So stock up on beer and wine. If you have a 'dry house' , you can use it for barter !!
I did the laundry and mowed the lawn.
I saw people in the supermarket stocking up and filling carts full of soda ,chips and Krispy Kreme . I hope they picked up Rolaids !! Everyone had so much hard labour to do ,cleaning up . I can't imagine functioning on 9 days of that. You need good healthy food.
I used jar candles when I could supervise them , plus a simmering potpourri , or incense sticks. Un-airconditioned houses in summer, do not smell very fresh, esp. if someone fries bacon and eggs on the Coleman campstove. We even fried Eggo waffles.
Everyone was walking, bicycling and driving while staring at rooftops. It's a wonder that there weren't more accidents
I like the idea of the wind up flashlights.
Chocolate is excellent. Everyone should have special treat foods.
I work in Hospital Auxiliary , on the maternity floor of our county hospital. I'm waiting to see if there are extra numbers of babies born this summer !!!! You TV , lights , what is there to do....... !!!


    Bookmark   May 22, 2005 at 12:10AM
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Prepare ahead, like NOW. People are on edge this year so you can bet the minute the NHC announces a named storm in the Atlantic there will be a run on Generators, Batteries, Plywood and everything else. The day before an evacuation is NOT the time to prepare. Things you might think about.

Camp stove - Coleman type either Propane or White Gasoline. Along with a supply of appropriate fuel. Totaly takes care of the cooking problem.

Milk - Ultra Pasturized in aseptic packaging. One brand is Parmalat. Why bother with powdered when you can have the real thing, whole, lowfat or skim with an unrefrigerated shelf life of 9 months? Once opened it needs to be refrigerated so buy the small (juice box sized) packages. Great if you have toddlers and also for cooking. Mac and Cheese anyone?

Crank Powered radio - The ultimate is the Baygen Freeplay Plus. It runs on AC if availible, built in rechargable battery, Built in Solar panel, or from the wind up generator. As a bonus it has a bright LED lantern thats also powered by the same sources as the radio. It's kind of spendy but it's great piece of mind and NO "D"Cells

Crank Powered flashlight - Yes they make such a thing. They don't need expensive, perishible batteries that always seem to be dead when you need them. They also feature LED illumination. LED's burn for years and years before they burnout.

Duct Tape - Don't waste it on the windows. But keep a roll handy. You can use it to stop wind blown leaks and 1001 other emergency repairs. Plastic sheeting or tarps too.

Fire Extinguisher - Oh yeah, you already have one. And it's properly charged. Right?

Every homeowner should already have a tool kit. But if you don't already have them. Think of the basics. Hammer, pry bar, screwdrivers, hand saw etc. Things you'll need to make emergency repairs.

Think long and hard about a generator. Do you REALLY? want one? The ideal answer is a fulltime standby unit like the Generac Guardian that runs off natural gas or propane. The second best is a portable generator with a PROFESSIONALLY INSTALLED TRANSFER SWITCH. Third option is a portable generator with heavy duty extension cords. The one option you shouldn't even consider is hooking up a portable generator to the dryer plug or the main panel without a transfer switch. It is unsafe, and illegal.

Portable generators arn't all they are cracked up to be. Besides being noisy they are thirsty beasts and will want to be fueled 2 to 4 times a day. The oil should be changed every 50 hours. That's every other DAY if you run it constantly. You'll need a stock of Oil, Oil and Air filters and maybe a couple spark plugs on hand. Not to mention proper Gas cans. Milk Jugs don't cut it.

A refrigerator or freezer will stay cold with a generator running 1 hour on and 2 hours off. Especially if the fridge is reasonably new Remember Gas lines? I know a person who spent 2 to 4 hours a day every day for 2 weeks finding fuel, and spent $1000 for a generator and another $1000 in gas to keep the fridge running so the $200 in food didn't go bad.

Lesson? People in stressful situations get tunnel vision and often make bad decisons. Plan ahead.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2005 at 1:04AM
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Beware of Carbon Monoxide in boarded up structures.

High winds caused our hot water heater to down draft and forced CO into the house. Our CO detector was still reading 80ppm (Not immediatly hazardous - but above the safe level) when we returned 3 days after the storm. It's quite possible the level was much higher at some point.

It only took 10 minutes with the front and back doors open for the level to return to 0ppm.

If you board up and evecuate VENTILATE the house BEFORE you re-enter. If you ride out the storm at home try to get some ventilation as weather permits.

(BTW - The gas company recommends NOT shutting off gas at the meter unless your home sustains damage. Once it has been turned off at the meter THEY must come out to turn it on safely)

    Bookmark   May 22, 2005 at 1:19AM
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I thought the point of taping windows was not to make them strong but to prevent the glass shards from flying when they shatter.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 12:59PM
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Irma_StPete(z9 FL)

Check ahead that you bathtub does hold water. (Mine leaks out. Gotta shop for a covering suction device (?).)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 1:05PM
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gardengrl(Northern Virginia)

Get a land line phone with a phone cord at the house. Cordless phones won't work when the power is out, but the good ol' fashioned corded phones will still work.

Another option, get a pay-as-you-go mobile phone, as they usually aren't connected to local cell towers. When all the local cell towers were out during last year's hurricanes, my Virgin Mobile phone was able to make calls with no problem. I pay about $20 to maintain it (top up my minutes) every three months. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles, but it does the job. My DH calls it my "Playschool" phone. :-)

If you have a full wave waterbed, taking the sheets off and sleeping directly on the plastic mattress will help cool you off at night and let you sleep.

Get extra food coolers for ice.

Clean/brand new plastic Rubbermaid garbage cans are great for holding a large amount of water. Keep the lids on and add 1 drop of chlorine bleach for every gallon if using the water for drinking.

Invest in a wet/dry vaccum for wet carpet cleanup afterwards (windows will leak water if the rain & wind is hitting them directly)

Perform and save (electronic copy) a complete PC backup prior to hurricanes. This way you will have a system copy if your computer is damaged.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 4:14PM
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lisa455(z9 LA)

Thanks for the tips. We had over thirty inches of rain in less than 2 days for Tropical Storm Allison in Southeast Louisiana. Half of my town had water in their houses, including me (a few inches) for a couple of days. The water was waist deep in my street, but we were built up a couple of feet. My husband and I watched the water rise and we had about 5 hours to pick up everything we could. We unplugged all electronics and put the cords up high. I keep all of the things on my closet floors (shoes, toys, bathroom toys) and under my bathroom cabinets in rubbermaid bins now with lids. Anything valuable is stored higher up. I have all of my pictures in one location. We pulled out our children's trundle beds and popped them up and put things on top of them. We also used large cans (formula cans) to prop some of our furniture on as well as lumber, bricks, etc. We moved several items into the attic, which works when rain and flooding, but not wind are a problem. One of my neighbors put freezer bags around all of the legs of his furniture and zipped them closed. The most important tip if you flood but your roof is intact is to get the wet carpet out asap and run your air conditioner to dry out your house.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 4:41PM
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Someone mentioned putting together a small tool kit. Last year I found a great one at Sears for about $40 .... But, I noticed that TJMaxx has lots of these home tool kits. They have all the basic pieces in a nice plastic molded carry-case for under $20. They were located in the area where they have all the "mens gifts". You know, those gifts ideas for Fathers Day, etc. Come to think of it, I even saw these kits at Big Lots --- and some of the power inverters too. Don't know the quality, but ....
Oh, and at Big Lots I picked up some collapsible 5-gal water containers from their camping area. Again, not high quality, but they'll work in a pinch!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 10:33AM
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On the subject of using chlorine to disinfect drinking water. One drop per gallon will not cut it. I'm not sure where you got that information but it is dangerously inaccurate.

From FEMA and the American Red Cross:

"DISINFECTION. You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms.

Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.

Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes.

If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.

The only agent used to purify water should be household
liquid bleach. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used."

You might want to print that out for reference as the procedure is a little more complicated than just puting a drop of bleach in the jug and drinking it.

On the subject of phones... All cell phones, (other than satellite phones $$$) prepaid or not rely on ground based towers. Most cell towers have only battery backup that's good for a few hours at most. Different providers use different towers, with some overlap. Since the power outages following the hurricane were spotty there were some towers that happened to stay on the air. If you were lucky enough to have the provider who's tower serving your area survived you had cell service. If not...

Cell phone service during and after a major disaster will be unreliable.

Land line phones, if you happen to live in an older neighborhood (pre 1990 or so) that is serviced by copper lines you have a good chance of having phone service. The phone companys have moved most of their lines underground where they are quite safe and older copper equipment is loop powered from the central office where there are almost always adequate backup diesel generators.

Newer neighborhoods served by fiber trunks are not so lucky. Fiber optics come from the central office to a local node. (Big green box) in the neighborhood. Then split off into small copper wires to the individual houses. The big green boxes rely on commercial power to function. They have battery backups but the batteries will only last 24 hours at best.

Since fiber optics cannot carry electricity the local nodes cannot be powered from the central office. And becauce there are hundreds of them scattered in the neighborhoods arround a central office there is no way to put a generator on each one.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 1:36PM
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pinakbet(z9 FL)

I like to share this only for fun. Received this from a friend after all the hurricanes last year. I know that this thread is supposed to be serious but hopefully, some of you might find my response funny.

Here it is.

I hope all is with you.


You all should be aware of hurricane preparations, but in case you need a refresher course: We're about to enter the peak of the hurricane season. Any minute now, you're going to turn on the TV and see a weather person pointing to some radar blob out in the Atlantic Ocean and making
two basic meteorological points.

(1) There is no need to panic.

(2) We could all be killed.

Yes, hurricane season is an exciting time to be in Florida. If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by "the big one."

Based on our insurance industry experiences, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

STEP 1: Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.

STEP 2: Put these supplies into your car.

STEP 3: Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay here in Florida. We'll start with one of the most important hurricane preparedness items:

HOMEOWNERS' INSURANCE: If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements:

(1) It is reasonably well-built, and

(2) It is located in Wisconsin

Unfortunately, if your home is located in Florida, or any other area that might actually be hit by a hurricane, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place. So you'll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the Replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can drop you like used dental floss.


Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows, all the doors. There are several types of shutters, with advantages and disadvantages:

Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make them yourself, they're cheap.

Sheet-metal shutters: The advantage is that these work well, once you get them all up. The disadvantage is that once you get them all up, your hands will be useless bleeding stumps, and it will be December.

Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they're very easy to use, and will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage is that you will have to sell your house to pay for them.

Hurricane-proof windows: These are the newest wrinkle in hurricane protection: They look like ordinary windows, but they can withstand hurricane winds! You can be sure of this, because the salesman says so.

He lives in Nebraska.

Hurricane Proofing your property: As the hurricane approaches, check your yard for movable objects like barbecue grills, planters, patio furniture, visiting relatives, etc... you should, as a precaution, throw these items into your swimming pool (if you don't have a swimming pool, you should have one built immediately). Otherwise, the hurricane winds will turn these objects into deadly missiles.


If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license; if it says "Florida," you live in a low-lying area.) The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along
with two hundred thousand other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.

If you don't evacuate, you will need a mess of supplies. Do not buy them now! Florida tradition requires that you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of cat food. In addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies:

23 flashlights. At least $167 worth of batteries that turn out,
when the power goes off, to be the wrong size for the flashlights.

Bleach. (No, I don't know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what the bleach is for, but it's traditional, so GET some!)

A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.)

A large quantity of raw chicken, to placate the alligators. (Ask anybody who went through Andrew; after the hurricane, there WILL be irate alligators.)

$35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no discernible teeth.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television if you have a generator that's working to keep the TV going and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next
to the ocean and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the ocean.

Good luck and remember: It's great living in Paradise?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 2:00PM
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Ah , yes- good ol' Dave Barry . This was very popular last year .
Keeping a sense of humor might be the most important thing to have during hurricane season . Thanks for reminding us of this pinakbet .

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 7:54AM
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cherig22(MO 6a/6b)

We had our large trash cans clean and ready for rain runoff

Tub was filled with water for the toilets

lots of furbaby food in plastic jars (from pretzel binges)

lived in bathing suits, more skin area and easier to bathe outside in

Now we are getting a generator, for a window air unit and fridge

Gas grill with side burner and 3 tanks of propane

lots of card games, dice, and 'let's talk about when we were young' so kids will hear stories about family

extra water delivery form bottled water company

Dollar General got a lot of business from me in canned goods

Good sense of humor (this is at the expense of neighbors, they were awesome last year)

long story, can't evacuate, but for those who can I suggest a full tank of gas and a map


    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 5:36PM
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witch1031(z9 - SW Volusia)

If you didn't check after the storms last year, get up and check your roof now before the season starts. Make sure you don't have any damage, loose shingles or weak spots.

A weird storm blew through SW Volusia county on Tuesday and knocked a tree down on our house. Three hurricanes and no roof damage and a May thunderstorm knocks a pine tree onto our house! We have a hole the size of a basketball and it looks like we'll be getting a whole new roof in time for hurricane season.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 5:04PM
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cindeea(FtMyers 10)

pinakbet-Thanks for that Dave Barry reminder. A sense of humor and well being is so necessary. I have to say we are breathing easier after our new addition! We ordered a generator from place hubby son works with delivery for June1. However, they were running out of room with everyone preparing ahead of time and told us to take it without charge until the tax saving went into effect. The guys have the relay switch installed. We did a test run the other night to decide what circuits to run and what to eliminate on a necessity value. I am amazed!! We will be comfortable should we loose power. God bless ya all. We are soon stepping into the "H Zone". This post has been wonderful in reminding us all the importance of being PREPARED!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 6:53PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

CindeeA, how much did it cost you to have the transfer switch installed? I got a quote of $1,420 to wire in the switch (that I already paid $400 for), plus adding outlets in my new shed (right next to the house and power box).

Seems REALLY high to me.

Anyone else have transfer switches professionally installed for a generator?


    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 8:13PM
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witch1031(z9 - SW Volusia)

Lisa, my next-door neighbor is an electrician with the local union. Since last September, he's done hundreds of those transfer switches when he's between jobs. I think he charges $200 plus materials but I'm not 100% positive.

I do know he's not getting $1420 per job! I would do come checking because that seems outrageously expensive.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 10:11AM
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The side burner on the gas grill was a savior, as was the camp type coffe pot! Dish soap, for all the dishes ( I used the dishwasher racks to dry clean dishes). At the $$ store bought those round battery operated "slap it" lights to stick all over the house.Clothes line and pins are a must! 5 gallon "pickle buckets" with lids from the restaurant I work at came in handy, to store and move water and debris for clean up. I ran out of clean wash cloths in a hurry after ivan so I plan to stock up on LOTS of them!!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2005 at 10:34AM
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meredith22(9 Florida)

The transfer switches cost about $200 and there's not much work involved for the electrician. $1420 for this job is way too high.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2005 at 3:57PM
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barbcoleus(z10 Cape Coral,Fl)

Pet carriers for all your pets in case you have to evacuate.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 4:25PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Last year we really suffered (like everyone else) during the times the storms were on us, with no power, and all boarded up. The dogs were miserable, the air stifling. This year I'll have battery powered fans and lanterns. I found reasonably priced fans today.

I'll run fans for the dogs blowing over bowls of ice to cool them. After loosing my best Champion in August to heatstroke, keeping the big guys cool is a priority.

We should be fine after the storms, have two generators, plenty of supplies, will have a small A/C. If someone here needs a safe place to stay, feel free to contact me. We are in Jupiter Farms.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 5:53PM
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Speaking of dogs. Don't forget to get them some valium for the stress. I had to medicate the dogs, my Mom and my MIL. LOL The vet was scrambling the day before the storm so maybe I will follow my own advice and get them a few pills to have on hand.

Lisa, I picked up a small window AC last year the day after the second storm. The little generator ran it just fine at night. We ran out of gas about 6am. Its not central air but it made a huge difference.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 7:06PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Good advice JoanM! But people should be sure to try the sedatives on their pets prior to the storms to see how they do. Some pets are zonked on a very low dose, others are almost immune or get *more* stressed and hyper. On sedatives, they are unable to regulate body temps, scary!!!!

A window A/C is what we will have. Possibly two, one for the dogs, one for the bedroom. They are cheap! Depends on how much our generators can handle. Will hook everything up and do test runs ahead of time so we know. Has anyone here tried a portable A/C unit? One that you can roll, that stands on its own? What BTU is your A/C unit? I don't care if the house/room is not cold, I just don't want condensation running down the walls again.

I'm so worried about hurricanes this year that my husband and friends are teasing me. They think it is funny to see me scurrying to get everything ready. I don't care. I was so stunned by last year that I won't allow myself to be without water/refrigeration/a breeze again.

Oh, and tiedowns for trailers/motorhomes are a must. Got those today for the cargo trailer.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 8:17PM
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cindeea(FtMyers 10)

Forget the dang dogs...get me some sedatives!!! Last year I was a miserable mess. I am not clostrophobic, and I am trained in emergency rescue and emergency diving rescue and first aid. But that is other people!! When we were in a state of emergency and closeted up under the shutters, no air no lights, I lost it! Thank gawd Dennis is also trained. After a few beers I could not stand the news anymore and went to bed and put a pillow over my head as the Islands and Charlotte County was ravaged. I needed the sedatives! LOL If someone is hurt I ACT when it is me in danger I REACT!!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2005 at 9:14PM
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I haven't read every post so sorry if this is a repeat - several years ago when hit in NW FL, we needed dry ice for the freezer. Kept things frozen from the bottom of the ice down so we lost things on the shelf where the dry ice was. Seems it only lasted about 3 days - not opening freezer. Needed gloves to handle of course.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 1:38AM
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I don't remember the BTUs but it was he biggest they had at the time. I'm thinking it was about 5000 - 6000 range. It didn't make the room cold but we had everyone, 5+ people, in the same room and it was cool enough to sleep. I was surprised our little generator was able to handle it. It was also a built in alarm clock as you heard the generator surging as it ran out of gas in the morning.

You are right about the valium. The normally scared hound dog just sprawled out on the bed totally zonked and the Rottie played with her little ball like a nut. Luckily she is not the scared type :->

I am having the opposite reaction to storm season. I normally would be replenishing my supplies as soon as the season gets here but I have myself convinced that last year was a freak of nature and we are good for another 20 years without getting hit. Maybe I am just an optomist. I'll pick up a few extra flash lights and batteies this weekend just in case I am wrong.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 7:21AM
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DH was at home holding down the fort--and 3 of our elderly neighbors who refused to leave---but due to medical condition I had to go--even though I got out early, called ahead and got special permission because of Ivan, (pet friendly hotels were full) Hampton Inn gave me a really hard time about taking a small dog (he was crated inside whole time) for one night...on my road trip odyssey with 2 teens and a dog I would say for those of us that have to leave get reservations before you go---like at Cat. 2 stage!!! just in case--- at pet friendly hotels en route and then cancel them as you go if you don't need them. After driving 14 hours then getting crap from a night manager when I was only going to be there for 7 hours to sleep and get the heck out it was not fun. In my experience of 3 towns and 10vets to Chicago and back, only one vet would take an out of town animal overnight. I am too old to sleep in rest stops! ;)

    Bookmark   June 3, 2005 at 12:21PM
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Winn-Dixie has the crank-up radio for only $10 with the preferred card. It's with the other seasonal items.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 1:02PM
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If you have long hair, make sure to get plenty of clips, rubber bands, and scrunchies to tie it up. Also, to share with other neighbors who didn't think of it. Long hair in no a/c is torture!

Better yet, have all your hair cut off as soon as a major storm approaches your area. Saves shampoo and time.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2005 at 1:14PM
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beachmamaproperties(9b FL)

for those of you who got an electrician to come out for the transfer switch and wiring, what questions should I ask when getting quotes. I am looking at generators 5500-8000 watts to power my fridge, microwave, tv and a window a/c unit. I have space behind the wall where the panel is. Also, how do I prepare my generator to NOT be stolen. Should I buy the transfer switch for my electrician and just get quotes for installation? what other things do I need other than the generator, transfer switch, etc?


    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 8:29AM
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lynne_melb(z9b Melb FL)


    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 7:49PM
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bigfoot_liz(9B FL)

beachmama check out the thread below for generator tips. i posted there that i was in the market for a stand-by generator but i have not yet bought one. instead we are going to see if we can get by w/ our large portable but we are picking up a small window A/C unit tomorrow at homedepot. the large portable will run a few lamps, fans, small tv, fridge and the small A/C unit good enough for the first storm i hope! then we'll see how the season goes.

Here is a link that might be useful: fl ready for hurricane season...

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 12:04AM
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disposable plates, cups, etc.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 8:29PM
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cindeea(FtMyers 10)

Beer-stock up now!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 8:50PM
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Print this out and put it on the frig. It's well worth the paper and ink - might not be able to get to it for reference if we have no power.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 10:27PM
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lynne_melb(z9b Melb FL)


    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 10:36PM
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Good idea, Lynne, to bump this up. Let's keep it on the first page. I have a feeling we're going to need it...

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 10:55PM
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SnickerKitten(Z9b FL)

Rosieo- I don't know where you live, but if you decide you want to evacuate more inland but don't want to leave the area completely you're more than welcome to bring your toddler (and pets?) and ride any storms that come this way with us. We lost power last year with Charley only for about half a day and whatever they did to repair that kept us from losing power again with any of the others. We're in Orlando and our house is very hurricane resistant shall we say No old weak trees hanging over us, protected neighborhood, solid construction, etc.
Also, if we decide to evacuate we have a car with a GPS system in it so we don't get lost and it seats 8 people so we've got room to take you with us- and we have somewhere to go!
All these reminders/suggestions are great, especially the ones that aren't on the hurricane lists that are passed around all the time.

I may have missed it if it was mentioned above but another idea if you have sturdy vehicles is to park them in front of any large windows you may have if you're not boarding up. Our windows are made to withstand the winds and such but *JUST IN CASE* something should happen to come flying at our sliding doors we park an SUV in front of them.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2005 at 9:36AM
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rosieo(7 NC)

Lori, that is an incredibly nice and generous offer, thank you very much! Our next hurricane I'm just going out of state, I'm a little jumpy after watching the Katrina horror stories.

I wanted to add one more thing. PLEASE dig out your homeowners insurance policy and review it. Some people in New Orleans are surprised to find that even though their houses are a total loss they are still responsible for the mortgage payments. Before a hurricane threatens you need to review your insurance coverage and make sure it's enough to cover what your house is worth in todays market. If you took out an $80,000 policy when you bought your house 8 years ago and your house is now worth $200,000 you need to hotfoot it over to your insurance agency. Especially now because we're apparently in a weather cycle where they are predicting bad storms for the next few years. I'd sure hate to have to depend on FEMA. And ask your agent about whether you might want flood insurance. If the hurricane causes a flood your basic homeowners insurance may not cover it. Nice, huh?

If you are renting, your landlords insurance DOES NOT cover anything belonging to you. Not your furniture, your car, your clothes, nada. You need to buy renters insurance which is pretty cheap.

If you lose your home, having a big wad of cash from your insurance will help you feel better about being homeless. And it will enable you to make a fresh start in Montana, where I hear they don't ever have hurricanes!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 9:45AM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

I got a flashlight that runs off a magnet when you shake it -no batteries- from JCPenny -works great! I also got a storm tracker type radio from home depot, too expensive really, but I was glad for the crank radio and light and it has a t.v that runs off batteries. We lost power here during katrina but not too much wind damage except a few houses lost some roofing and a few trees down- coulda been alot worse. I thank you all for this thread.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 6:15PM
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bruggirl100(z9 FL)

Here's my tip...MOVE to a place where they don't have hurricanes! I grew up with them, but the last two years have been too much for me. I'm outta here.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2005 at 1:57PM
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JayEmVee(z9 SF Bay, CA)

I've been reading your tips, because we bought a small house in Port Isabel, Texas for when we retire and move from earthquake country to hurricane alley. Some of your ideas are great and would work here in the San Francisco area. Earthquakes don't give any warning.
One thing we did to prepare for the Big One was to go through all of our belongings and disperse photos and mementos to our grown children who live in other states (we color xeroxed the ones we wanted to have with us). Heirloom furniture was parceled out to who ever wanted it, my grandmother's china, the silver, etc. Now we are pretty much down to fighting weight. It took a year, involved some trips to move the furniture, but in the end it was fun. Now all we have to think about is ourselves and the animals.
We also sent copies of all of our important papers to out of state children for safe keeping.
I know this can't apply to young families, but it worked for us. Maybe we'll dodge this bullet and get to Texas.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 2:26PM
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bruggirl100(z9 FL)

Texas doesn't look like a good place to be right now. :(

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 4:28PM
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julieyankfan(z9FL Pasco Cty.)

CindeeA, my husband is an EMT and he is the same way. Also, don't forget the wine.

Someone said about using those plastic pretzel jugs for pet food, but they're great for charcoal, too. Keeps it nice and dry.

I love Dave Barry and miss his column.

Last year, I got the photo albums up on a higher shelf, then I met a lady at the dollar store that was buying those plastic totes to put all of hers into. I would take it one step further and buy those huge ziplock baggies and put your photos in them and then in the totes. Don't forget your family videos and dvds.

But, if I saw Rita coming at me, my only advice would be - run!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 12:56PM
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zozzl(z9 FL)

Extra long extension cords for outdoor use come in very handy. Last summer some houses had electric and some didn't. Our neighbors were great with letting you take extension cords and plug into their electricity.

Ditto on the gas grill idea or you can get a cheapo charcoal one. We did lots of cooking last year on the grill during the 3 hurricanes. I love the ice in the washer idea!

Above all don't depend on the government/FEMA to be able to handle all the problems. They just do not have the capacity to take care of everything and you really have to depend on yourself. I'm not criticizing, I am just making an observation:) Great ideas everyone!

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 11:56AM
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Don't laugh but..... I shaved my cat. Yes, I shaved my cat before the hurricanes last year and i have kept him shaved this year. He is perfectly darling. He looks like a curly little lamb. I did this because it gets really D#%n hot when the power is out. I don't mind the heat but I am not wearing a fur coat.

Otherwise I just made sure I had perscription medicine, first aid, food and water. I kept protein bars, electrolyte powder, dried fruit, sugar candies, choclate and nuts. Thats what I have now. Its healthy, cheap, easy and I use it when I hike anyway so I dont spend money on things I won't use again.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 7:57PM
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Oh yeah... I did do something else not on the list. I was near the Hernando/Pasco county line on the Withlacoochee River. Ultimately, I ended up in- the Withlachoochee River. It was grand. I was flooded completely out. My house was full of water for literally months. I couldnÂt get back in until almost December. Before things got bad I got as much sentimental stuff out as possible but I knew I couldnÂt get my electronics or furniture out. I couldnÂt save much furniture but I wrapped my electronics.

I wrapped them first in towels, then in plastic wrap then I did it again so that I had 4 layers. I stacked the things I could high up on counters. The inner layer stayed dry even months later and so did my electronics. This was important to me because I already knew I was going to loose almost everything and the electronic items would be the most expensive to replace.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2005 at 8:12PM
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fuzzy(6b northern AR)

At the risk of offending or sounding crass, here's my advice:

(I mean to do neither)

Think about NOT living on the coast or (worse) below sea level. You can live half an hour from the beach and only have to deal with wind damage from a hurricane (which IS covered by your insurance company). If you live where the water can flood you, you'll have much more risk, much more expensive insurance, and many more problems should "the big one" hit you.

Also-- If you rent, shell out the $30 a month or so for renter's insurance to cover your belongings. It's worth it just for your peace of mind, and it'll also cover these crazy lightning strikes and electrical surges we have so often 'round here.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 6:40PM
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    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 7:36PM
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lynne_melb(z9b Melb FL)


    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 10:08PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Got hit by Rita here in S. LA, not so much wind damage but the flooding... Had huge storm surge and when the tide came in, it flooded our town badly. Our house is up 3 ft off the ground and we still got water inside. Saved our photos and all by placing in ziplocks/plastic bags then plastic totes and putting them on top of the table. Kids saved video games/systems by wrapping them in garbage bags and putting them up on top of the fridge. Put most electronics up high and wrapped them in plastic. Guess we fared better than most people here but the mold is disgusting. I agree with brug girl the best advice is to go to hurricane-less areas lol! Drove a few miles south the other day to looky-loo. Many houses down there completely moved off thier foundations or just shredded.
Hope you all are ok with Wilma there in FL.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 9:12PM
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I just read all the post and there are some great ideas . I would like to add a few. After a conversation I had with my allstate agent , we plan on doing something new. We are going to photograph the house with plywood / shutters in place over the windows, HOLDING A CURRENT COPY OF THE PALM BEACH POST IN FRONT OF IT. That way there will be no argument about our attempt to cover the windows. Also in the future , checks to repair your roof could be pro - rated. If a tree comes crashing through you roof, that is one thing. If you got water damage inside you house because your 20 year old roof needed to be replace and you didn`t , that is something else. In 2003 my husband Steve went up on the roof to inspect it . Even thought the roof was only 14 years old....he said it was like walking on potato chips. Thank God we replaced it then. Moldy drywall just isnt worth it.
My parents and Grandparents lived in Broward county when the great labor day storm hit the keys in 1935. They always said to keep your shoes on at all times during a huricane.......even at night. Make sure you ARE UP TO DATE WITH YOUR TETNUS SHOT lol :)

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 6:48AM
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We invested in a plastic 55 gallon drum just before Katrina. Good move, we never were short of water.

DOG FOOD--I worried about possibly having to shoot my pets because we didn't have a new bag of food for them. Fortunately we were able to buy some just before we ran out.

Ammo for rifles and handguns--I never thought that we would have looters in Long Beach, MS but we did. "You Loot, We Shoot" signs were common. I had to get my shotgun out one time.

Gasoline storage. you can buy a gas tank for the back of your pickup that looks like a toolbox but holds 90 gallons. Our lowest point came the day we were down to about an eight of a tank in the truck.

Generator--we are trying to put a whole house generator by our new house.

Gatorade--you sweat buckets after a storm and can quickly cramp up. Gatorade is like magic.

BEER--when you are faced with something like the devastation we had it helps.

Maxcold cooler--Mine held 200 pounds of chunk ice that I bought the day before Katrina hit. The ice lasted about 6 days, which wasn't bad.

Extra chains for the chainsaw.

Rope to attach to my garden tractor to pull limbs with.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 5:06PM
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panspipes(zone 9)

A safe and easy way to burn candles indoors- Buy candle sticks in bulk. Like boxes of fifty or a hundred. Then find tall glass jars, such as pasta canisters, etc,... (even canning jars will do.) Pour in about 3" of sand, gravel, or whatever's handy. We used cat litter. stand the candle in the sand. The flame is no longer exposed and is even wind proof if you're sitting outside. It's actually kinda charming. I still do this long after Ike.

Buy rechargeable batteries and a charger that will run off your car. You will never run out of batteries this way. Besides, it much greener and will save money in the long run.

Don't forget to look for non-electrical forms of entertainment. Books, board games, puzzles, even a kite. Booze, whatever. The boredom strikes harder than one might think.

Two thumbs WAY up on the ideas of canned or powdered milk, and cleaning your house and doing your laundry before hand! After Ike we were dead in the water, but what a relief that everything was clean!!!

SHARE SHARE SHARE! If you are able to make coffee, make some for your neighbors. Any luxury you can afford to pass around is not only a wonderful thing, but you will find it comes back to you. Like when a neighbor offers a line to his generator. There is strenght in numbers. Try to work as a team.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 11:21PM
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I went on a camping web site and got recipes using canned and nonperishable food, lots used tin foil on the grill even desserts. I also got 6 collapsible water jugs and I bought the convertor box for battery tv.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 1:11PM
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Just wanted to let everyone know that we did, in fact, put a guardian generator next to our new house. It is a 16 kw powered by natural gas. Since we use gas for our dryer and stove the generator can basically power the rest of the house. Our electrician wired it directly into the breaker box, so when it comes on the transfer switch disconnects from the grid and you can run the circuits you want in the b-box.

I have test run it and it handles the freezer, fridge, lights and the central air conditioner (3 ton unit). Our house never lost gas during Camille, Frederick, Elena, Georges or Katrina. It's always a possibility but I feel pretty confident on this score. At current prices it costs about 2-3 dollars an hour to run. Not cheap, but believe me, after Katrina I would have paid a lot more than that for a cool place to stay and some lights.

Once installed you set it to test run once a week. I ran mine for several hours under no load, then light load, medium load, and full load. Once you've done that you change the oil and button her up. I will change the oil at the beginning of each hurricane season and have already purchased enough filters for 20 days worth of running. They got the power back here after 14 days in Katrina, so that should be enough. Access for changing oil is a snap and I've stored the wrenches necessary in the enclosure. It is very quiet when test running, much louder under load.

I would suggest buying online--we saved quite a bit on the purchase price. It is much easier to install one of these with new construction--but a good electrician should be able to install one in an older house without too much trouble.

For what its worth.......................

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 2:16PM
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