When Hurricane Matthew made its way to my North Central Florida city, residents collectively went crazy! News stations and social media alike told us to anticipate a Category 4 hurricane in which we’d be out of power and should stay off the roads for at least 24 hours until it calmed down. While my area was not an evacuation zone, the build up for this hurricane was unnerving for millions of people. Hurricane Matthew has now passed us, but according to news reports, Hurricane Nicole might be just as ugly a successor. Before gas stations run out of gas; grocery stores run out of bread and water; schools and work places shut down; or even, small businesses find themselves under investigation for price gouging during an emergency, jot down these 10 easy ways you can prepare for the next tropical storm or hurricane.
Disclaimer: Use these tips as your own discretion and only if your area is not deemed an evacuation zone.
10 Things to Do Before A Hurricane or Tropical Storm Hits
- Make lots of sandwiches in case your power goes out. Easy sandwiches like PB&J, grilled cheese, or turkey could be a life saver.
- Freeze a few gallon Ziploc bags of water. (Plastic food containers are good, too.) If you don’t have a cooler to store your food in, this will help keep your food and freezer cool until your power is restored. It can also double as drinking water once thawed. You might also consider doing this with plastic water bottles.
- With remaining containers, prep easy-to-grab lunches for your family. The last thing you want to worry about during a hurricane is what you’re going to eat. If you are not in an evacuation zone, spend some time storing lunches and snacks to avoid this problem. (See sandwiches above. Add your favorite crackers, chips, veggies, fruit, etc.)
- Get money out the ATM as soon as possible. You may need it when you least expect.
- Grab a thermos for your coffee. Clearly, this is only important for those (like me) who need good coffee to get through the day.
- Do laundry immediately. As soon as you hear conversation about a potential storm or hurricane, wash clothes and towels. Clean, dry clothes will be essential if you’re without electricity for a few days.
- Scour the Dollar Tree for everything else you need. You might find flashlights, tap lights, batteries, zip ties, box cutters, tape, USB cords, buckets, bottled water, etc.
- CHARGE your devices and pocket chargers!
- Pack an emergency bag in case you need to evacuate. Include clothing, hard bottom shoes, towels, medicines, food, and any other necessary tools you’ll need. Pro tip: Put your medicines (and extra pair of eye glasses) in air tight bags. Bring extra Ziploc and plastic bags with you, too.
- Add Emergency contacts on your phone’s lock screen. It wasn’t until the Pulse Orlando massacre that I learned about this feature. Most Android users can enable this by going to Contacts. Click on ICE – emergency contacts. You should see a Search box and an ‘+’ symbol to create or add existing contacts. Once your contact is selected, their name will be added to your ICE contact list, which becomes visible once Emergency Call is clicked from your locked phone screen. This will make it easier to reach your loved ones in case you’re in need.
While this list includes easy things to do, please know that there’s a multitude of ways to prepare for a severe storm or hurricane, including evacuating if necessary. We extend our deepest condolences to those fatally impacted by Hurricane Matthew. We will continue to research more ways to prepare for these events as well as reputable donation sites for Haiti and Cuba.
Ariel C. Williams is the Editor-in-Chief of Slay Culture and author of The Girl Talk Chronicles (Amazon). Sound parenting, storytelling without bounds, and providing a space where Black women and Black boys (like she and her son) are celebrated for their greatness are things that keep her going. Tweet her @ArielSaysNow.