I am a born-and-raised, sandy-footed, salty-haired Florida girl. Growing up with a hard-core Floridian family, we almost never evacuated when a hurricane approached. Even though we lived just a few miles from the beach, we would simply board up, stock up, and ride it out. (Fun fact: the only time we ever did evacuate, I met my husband!)
I have weathered many a storm, some relatively mild and fun, and some that were, frankly, terrifying. As the facetiously self-declared Baroness of Disaster Preparedness in my household, here are some common-sense hurricane prep tips from a native Floridian:
–Don’t panic. As long as you and your family are safe, everything else is gravy.
-Stock up on drinking water, (prepare for about 1 gallon per person per day), and do it NOW before things get too crazy at the stores.
-If you use a breast pump, make sure that you have a battery-operated and/or manual hand-pump option available to you. Before the storm, put boiling water into insulated thermoses to warm bottles as-needed. Remember that defrosted breastmilk CAN be refrozen if it still contains ice crystals! (I’ll never forget pumping around the clock with my battery-powered pump by headlamp during the Flood of 2015.)
-Freeze plastic water bottles and ziplock bags of tap water to put in coolers later if you lose power.
-Dig out your flashlights, lanterns, candles, matches, and batteries and put them all in one place.
-Fill up clean water bottles, mason jars, growlers, and other glass containers with drinking water.
-Fill your bathtub/s with water just before the storm to use for hand washing, toilet-flushing, etc. (But keep babies and toddlers away from full tubs!!)
-Gas up your vehicles NOW (don’t wait until right before the storm hits) and fill up any gas cans you have with extra fuel.
-Keep easy snacks like apples, bananas, pouches of baby food for kids, peanut butter, and protein bars handy.
-Obey the “Four or mo’, you gotta GO” rule. We Floridians may seem to have a laissez-faire attitude about hurricanes, but we know when stuff gets real. You don’t mess around with a category 4 or stronger. Get out of there. If you feel any hesitation whatsoever about riding out the storm, leave. It’s well worth the effort to keep your family safe.
-Make a huge freezer-meal and freeze it up in small containers. If you lose power, you can re-heat premade food on the grill, camping stove, or gas stove.
-Make big batches of fruit and veggie smoothies and freeze in individually-portioned ziplock bags. Thaw and drink when the power’s out.
-Do the laundry, wash your dishes, clean out your fridge, and take out all the trash. You don’t need stinky stuff hanging around the house.
-Just before the storm, take a loooooong hot shower and bathe the kids. You may not have hot water again for a while.
-Charge up all of your devices and charge up any portable battery packs you may have too.
-Consider picking up a couple of battery-powered fans to get a breeze and some white-noise if the power goes out.
-Pre-grind those coffee beans and make a BIG batch of cold-brew. Ain’t nobody got time for storm survival without COFFEE.
-Turn off the TV and put down the phone. Resist the urge to check weatherdotcom every 5 minutes. It will only freak you out. Take a deep breath. You’re going to be ok.
Prep, do what you can, and then try to relax. We can do this!