About to get hit by a hurricane? NOAA has some great hurricane preparedness tips, but I think they’re missing just a few things…
Get a generator! I highly recommend getting one if you have an enclosed patio space or backyard. Having power for a two hour downtime is convenient, but having power for a 24 hour downtime is a lifesaver. You do need to keep the generator completely outside for ventilation, though. I got a basic Champion generator from Sam’s for around $300 that does most everything I need for temporary power outages.
Calculate the gasoline requirements for the generator. If your generator will run for 10 hours on 3 gallons of gasoline, then a 5 gallon gas container won’t get you past 24 hours of continuous runtime. Invest in a 10 or 20 gallon gasoline container if your area is prone to long delays in power restoration. When the crisis is over, just pour the extra gasoline into your vehicle’s gas tank.
Get 10 or 12 gauge extension cord for your generator. Use these to run from your generator into your home. You can get them from Sam’s or Lowes. Anything less (like a plain household extension cord) and you run the risk of melting the extension cords if you put too much load on them.
Pre-layout your generator extension cords. This is a real timesaver so you don’t have to do everything in the dark. I usually open the sliding glass door from the patio and run the extension cord from the generator through the crevice. Then I put some wide masking tape from the top of the crevice down to the extension cord on the floor to keep the bugs out. Then all I have to do is go out the side garage door and start the generator if the power goes out.
Have a “core” area for all the power. Have a centralized area in your home where the main extension cord from the generator will run and have the essentials are ready to go. A fan and a lamp are good starters, but a small TV and maybe a DVD player and small microwave are great additions if your generator can handle it.
Check your generator load level. Every generator has a load indicator that says how it is doing. Make sure you don’t overload your generator with too many things plugged in at once.
Refrigerator planning. Before the hurricane hits, take out anything that doesn’t have to be in the refrigerator and put it aside. (Sodas, alcohol and condiments come to mind.) The less that’s in the refrigerator, the easier it is to cool what remains. If the power goes out, the items in the refrigerator will usually stay for a long time if you just keep the doors closed. If the power is out for a prolonged period, you may want to occasionally plug in the refrigerator into the generator to let it cool back down a little.
Keep some water in an ice chest. Keeping an ice chest full of ice and bottled water on the side of the refrigerator will let the refrigerator stay cool by not having to open the doors all the time to get a drink.
Gorilla Tape > Duck/Duct Tape. Seriously. Keep a roll handy for quick fixes. Plan on a little paint coming off of whatever you put the Gorilla tape on though!
Gorilla Tape your trash bin and recycling lids down. There’s nothing worse than finding out your trash and aluminum cans are all over the neighborhood after a hurricane passes.
Gorilla Tape the base of doors you’re going to sandbag. Sandbags are good to barricade the bottom of doors to keep water from coming in, but the gorilla tape will add an extra layer of flood protection.
Camping stove + propane = hot food. You don’t have to go to a speciality store like Academy or Cabela’s to find a good propane camping stove. WalMart, Sams and Target carry a good variety, ranging from a simple single-burner setup to a oven-style-four-burner family cookout model. Grab one of those camping stoves, some matches and a few cans of propane to power them, and you can have hot food in the middle of the outage! Cans of Sterno work well too.
Charcoal + outdoor grill = hot food. A lot of times, people forget to buy a bag of charcoal before a hurricane. Depending on how long the power is out, you can make a cookout to take care of any leftover food in the refrigerator.
Gather the emergency service numbers now. Looking for the gas company’s emergency number when the area reeks of natural gas/mercaptan is too dangerous. Get all the utility company numbers ready to go before the storm arrives.
Get training pads for any pets that will be indoors. Pets that are indoors during a big storm will probably have to “go” at some point. Putting training pads on the floor will help them keep their business in one area.
UPDATE 06/30 : If it’s expensive, completely unplug it. Yes, surge suppressors will stop a moderate power surge. But a hurricane dishes out lightning on a very large scale. If you paid a lot of money for it, unplug it completely from the wall to keep it safe.
Hopefully Alex will only get to a Category 1 hurricane and this will just be a lot of water and not much of anything else.