There's plenty of websites and posts out there telling you what to do and how to do it when a hurricane is scheduled for a local visit. Keep you personal documents close (and dry), cover your windows with something durable, know your emergency plan, etc are all covered in depth. While there's no shortage of posts out there about how to prep for a hurricane, I wanted to share some tips I've learned over 21 years of living in Tampa, FL (and having seen my fair share of hurricanes) that may not be the first discussed everywhere else.
Your Insurance Policy
Make sure to have a copy of your insurance policy on hand (or easily accessible digitally). And take time to understand what it covers, how the claim process works, and what your hurricane deductible is. In the event you need to contact your insurance company and discuss claims, it helps to already be informed about how long the process will take and what you will need to file. Additionally, if you have time (before warnings are issued for your area or before the storm enters the "box" around Florida), contact your insurance agent to adjust coverage if needed. Keep in mind - if you are in the process of buying a home (and using a mortgage loan), you will need insurance bound to do so, and most insurance companies stop binding insurance a few days before a storm hits the area your home is in. Make sure you get coverage confirmed ASAP so that there are no delays with your closing.
Your Refrigerator & Freezer
Turn your fridge and freezer temperature as low as it can go so if you lose power it will stay colder for longer. Only refrigerate items that need to be (most fruits and veggies can last at room temperature, for example) and save space inside for medications, food, and any other items that do have to stay cold. Write a list of what is in your fridge and/or freezer so you don't have to open the door to remember what's inside because every time you open the door you lose valuable cool air that can't be regenerated until the power comes back on.
Having The Right Foods On Hand
It may seem like a good idea at first to go for the junk food non-perishables, but a day into eating Oreos and Doritos you may wish you had something more substantial to hold you over. Pouches of tuna remove the need for a can opener, and packets of jerky will pack a protein punch. Peanut butter and other nuts are also filling options when the power goes out and you can't cook. Fruits and veggies don't need to be refrigerated either and will keep you from feeling sluggish (just make sure to wash them before the storm comes so you're not using your stored water to do so). Cows milk won't last long if the power goes out, but shelf-stable almond or soy milk can be kept refrigerated if necessary, or you can purchase powdered milk.
Now We're Really Cooking With Gas!
If you have gas appliances inside that work regardless of whether the electricity is on, you're in a better spot than most! But if you don't have that luxury, make sure to stock up on a couple of propane tanks and, if you don't already have one, a propane gas grill. Home Depot and Walmart have them for as low as $100 in some areas and once you've used it to get you through the hurricane, you have the added bonus of having a BBQ to use for the rest of summer!
Preparing Your Pets
If you know your pet is prone to anxiety during regular storms, the added stress they will experience from a major hurricane is something you should prepare for, too. If possible, visit your animal's vet for a prescription for calming/anti-anxiety medication, or purchase some holistic supplements that can calm them naturally (or a thunder jacket if you don't want them ingesting anything). While medication is not always the best technique for calming pets, sometimes it can be the right call if you know your pet's stress level will be too high during the storm. (Please seek advice from a veterinarian before giving your pet any medication and/or supplements.) Also, make sure their microchip information is up-to-date (addresses, phone numbers, etc) or that your pet has a microchip if you have yet to do that.
Your Own Medications
Make sure you have refilled all your own prescriptions and purchased any over the counter medication that you typically use. Though many pharmacies have back up generators and can stay open during a storm, there is a chance your local one that has your prescription easily on hand may be closed. If you use a chain (CVS, Walgreens, etc) to fill your prescription, locate the nearest pharmacy that is not your typical one in case yours is closed.
Clean & Drinkable Water
There doesn't need to be a run on the water bottle aisle at Publix when you can use other methods for keeping potable water on hand. Fill bathtubs (clean them first) with water for bathing/hand washing, and fill jugs, previously used bottles, larger cups, or even durable zip lock bags with water if you can't find water at the store. A gallon of water per person per day is recommended, and don't forget your pets will need water, too. If you have a pool, remember you can use water from it to flush toilets if necessary.
Outside your Home
A lot of things you wouldn't think of can become projectiles in high winds. Make sure outdoor patio furniture is brought inside or tied down. If your furniture is plastic and you own a pool, you can push it into the water for a quick fix. Make sure shed doors are closed (so wind cannot come in and lift the building), and confirm loose pavers or edging are secured so they don't take flight.
Future Home Realty