facebook_pixel

14 last-minute hurricane hacks to keep you safe

Hurricane Irma is coming, and SoFlo is almost all but guaranteed to suffer some level of damage. This may be your first major Florida storm, but even if it’s not, we figured everyone can use a quick and dirty refresher on prep that won’t be found in the official guides. 

So here’s our collection of hurricane hacks, pro tips, and surprisingly simple (but not necessarily obvious) suggestions to keep you safe. Got questions, comments or more ingenious hacks to add to the list? Add it in our comments section below. We’re in this together.

  • Wear the right clothing. Sleep with sturdy shoes next to your bed. This is no time for chancletas or sandals! You may need to get out of dodge, and quickly, so have good footwear handy, and keep a go-bag with necessary documents and clothes easily accessible.
  • Document the important stuff. Take photos of the inside and outside of your house, of important documents and anything else you might need for your records. Upload all that stuff to the cloud to keep it safe.
  • No seás un sucio. Do your laundry and wash your dishes, now!
  • Store your valuables in a safe, dry spot. If you need a dry place to store valuables, throw them in your washer, dryer, or dishwasher, or put them in plastic bins that are kept off the ground. You can also bag them in kitchen trash bags and seal them shut with duct tape. Put documents in Ziploc bags.
  • Make your own fridge/freezer. Fill plastic bags and tupperware ¾ full of water and stuff them in your freezer. The more you have in there, the longer your freezer will stay cold (and they’re safe drinking water once they melt). If you have a cooler you plan on using for food in case of a power outage, start loading it with ice now. Pre-chilling a cooler can help it keep the temperature significantly longer. The rule of thumb is a pound of ice for each quart of capacity. Also, dry ice (if you can get it) lasts longer.
  • Store water to help flush your toilet. Buy a plastic sheet – the kind you’d use as a drop cloth for painting – to line your bathtub. Then fill it with water. Use this to fill your toilet’s tank so it will flush. A sauce pan or bucket can work as a good scoop.
  • Have a safety contact. Pick a friend or relative who lives outside the affected area of the storm and designate them as your safety contact. Check in with them ASAP post-storm. Remember, it will be easier to get calls out of the area than to communicate with the area affected by the storm.
  • Create a safe spot in your home. This should be a room with few or no windows, or a centrally located stairway or hallway. You may end up spending quite some time there, so make it comfortable with pillows, throw rugs, folding chairs, etc. You can also use the cushions and blankets as cover for safety in case a window breaks.
  • Be prepared with non-digital ways to pass the time. Board games, dominoes, packs of cards, and books will keep your mind off the eerie howl of the wind and help to pass the time – and prevent you from running down your all-important cell battery.
  • Clean the yard. Pick up anything in your yard that the hurricane could turn into a missile.
  • Make your own sandbags. Grab some pillowcases and fill them with sand or cat litter. Dampen them, then put them against the door.
  • Know where to find your main breaker. If water floods up to your electrical outlets or you have to evacuate, TURN OFF the main breaker.
  • Make a flag. In case of a flood, have a queen or king sized white flat sheet on hand so you can signal for help from boats and helicopters.
  • Get your furniture off the ground. Paint cans or five gallon buckets can support and elevate your furniture in case water floods your house.

What other hacks should we add to our list? Let us know in the comments below.

Plus, check out our guide to all things Irma here.

By Mario Ariza
Mario Alejandro Ariza is a Dominican immigrant who grew up in Miami. A Michener Fellow in poetry at the University of Miami’s Master in Fine Arts program, he is currently working on a nonfiction book about South Florida and Sea Level Rise. On a day with a good swell and northeasterly breezes, you’ll find him surfing on South Beach (yes, there’s actually surfing Miami.)

  • Sally Adams Trufant

    Here are some Hurricane prep tips for those with PETS from B&B Pet Stop – a large, locally owned pet store in Mobile, Alabama. Read on for Dog + cat, Aquariums, Ponds, Birds, Reptiles, and Small Animals.

    Hurricane Prep tips for DOGS + CATS

    Crate: Most hurricane shelters allow you to bring your pets. Whether you stay at a shelter or with friends or relatives, you will need a crate to transport and house your pet. Many motels and hotels will allow an animal if it is kept in a crate.

    Food: Whether you stay home or evacuate, make sure you have a supply of your pet’s regular food. Traveling can be stressful for an animal, and it will be important that they maintain their normal diet. Also have some toys and chews on hand to keep your pet busy when you bring him inside during the storm.

    Water: Whether you stay at home or leave, the water supply can easily become contaminated in a hurricane situation. Keep clean water set aside for EVERYONE in your family, including your pets.

    Shots: Make sure your pet’s shots are up-to-date. In an emergency situation, your pets may be exposed to other pets that may not be in the best of health. Your best protection is to ensure your pet is appropriately vaccinated. If possible, get a copy of each pet’s vaccination record TODAY and keep it with other important papers. If you have to evacuate, you will NOT be thinking about your pet’s vet records!

    Take Pictures: You should have four views of your pet: face, left side, right side, and back. The photos should be printed out and stored in a safe, dry place during a disaster.

    ID Tags: We engrave ID tags while you wait – make sure your pet’s tag is easy to read and up-to-date. If you know in advance where you are going, have a tag made with THAT information on it. Get a few EXTRA tags made and attach one to your pet’s crate and one to the leash.

    Collars and Leashes: Make sure you have a collar and leash for every dog and a harness and leash for all cats. If you evacuate, you’ll need to be able to control each pet. If the storm hits and your fence is knocked down, you’ll need to be able to walk your pets safely.

    Hurricane Prep tips for AQUARIUMS

    Water Change: Do a minimum of a 25% water change today or tomorrow. That way, if the water supply becomes contaminated the water quality of your tank has a better chance of remaining stable.

    Battery Powered Air Pump: This will come in handy if there is an extended power outage. Make sure you have extra batteries on hand, too. If you do not have a battery powered air pump, you must circulate the water by hand every few hours. Use a pitcher to dip water out and pour it back into the tank. Be sure to disturb the water surface – make it splash!

    Preserve the Water Quality: Feed your fish sparingly. This will reduce fish waste and help preserve the quality of the water and allow them to survive longer if you are unable to do water changes due to contaminated water supplies.

    Power loss: If you have a clean water supply do a 25% water change every three or four days. If your filter is off due to a power loss, you MUST clean it before you re-start it after the power is restored. The detritus collected in the filter can turn toxic within 12 hours. If this gets into your tank it could kill your fish.

    Ponds: Ponds fare pretty well during a storm. Secure a mesh covering over the pond. This will help keep debris out of the pond and prevent the fish from floating away in the event the pond overflows.

    Hurricane Prep tips for SMALL ANIMALS

    Small Travel cage or carrier: Most hurricane shelters allow you to bring your pets. Whether you stay at a shelter or with friends or relatives, you will need a travel cage or carrier to transport and house your pet.

    Food: Whether you stay home or evacuate, make sure you have a supply of your pet’s regular food. Traveling can be stressful for an animal, and it will be important that they maintain their normal diet. Have some toys and chews on hand to keep your pet busy during the storm.

    Water: Whether you stay at home or leave, the water supply can easily become contaminated in a hurricane situation. Keep clean water set aside for EVERYONE in your family, including your pets.

    Take Pictures: You should have four views of your pet: face, left side, right side, and back. The photos should be printed out and stored in a safe, dry place during a disaster.

    Harness and Leash: Think about getting a harness and leash for your small pet. If you’ve evacuated, this will make it easy to exercise your pet safely.

    If you have to leave your small pet behind:
    Clean Cage: Make sure the cage is clean before you leave your house.
    Cover the Cage: This will help protect your pet from flying objects if a window breaks. Move all cages away from windows.
    Food and Water: Put extra food and hay in the cage and plenty of clean water. Wire a treat stick or two within reach to help fill in the gaps until you can return. Get an extra water bottle for each small pet.

    Hurricane Prep tips for BIRDS

    Prevent flight in the case of an escape – trim your pet bird’s flight feathers – or bring your bird to B&B, we’ll do it for you.

    Small Travel cage or carrier: Most hurricane shelters allow you to bring your pets. Whether you stay at a shelter or with friends or relatives, you will need a travel cage or carrier to transport and house your bird.

    Food: Make sure you have a supply of your bird’s regular food. Traveling can be stressful and it will be important to maintain their normal diet. Some birds may be too nervous to eat, so bring a supply of millet spray to fill in the gaps. Bring the toys from your bird’s cage so he’ll have something familiar to keep him occupied.

    Water: Whether you stay at home or leave, the water supply can easily become contaminated in a hurricane situation. Keep clean water set aside for EVERYONE in your family, including your pets.

    Take Pictures: You should have four views of your bird: face, left side, right side, and back. The photos should be printed out and stored in a safe, dry place during a disaster.

    If you have to leave your bird behind:
    Clean Cage: Make sure the cage is clean before you leave your house.
    Cover the Cage: This will help protect your bird from flying objects if a window breaks. Move all cages away from windows.
    Food and Water: Put extra food in the cage and plenty of clean water. Treat sticks and millet spray can fill in the gaps until you can return. Get a vacation waterer for each bird.

    Hurricane Prep tips for REPTILES

    Small Travel carrier: Most hurricane shelters allow you to bring your pets. Whether you stay at a shelter or with friends or relatives, you will need a carrier to transport and house your reptile.

    Food: Make sure you have a supply of your reptile’s regular food. Traveling can be stressful and it will be important to maintain their normal diet. If you have a snake, feed the snake NOW. In an emergency, snakes can easily go a few weeks without food.

    Water: Whether you stay at home or leave, the water supply can easily become contaminated in a hurricane situation. Keep clean water set aside for EVERYONE in your family, including your pets.

    Take Pictures: You should have four views of your reptile: face, left side, right side, and back. The photos should be printed out and stored in a safe, dry place during a disaster.

    If you have to leave your reptile behind:

    Clean Cage: Make sure the cage is clean before you leave your house.
    Cover the Cage: This will help protect your pet from flying objects if a window breaks. Move all cages away from windows.
    Food and Water: Put extra food in the cage and plenty of clean water.