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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.)