hurricane lifehacks

Life’s storms aren’t always figurative. As we speak, Hurricane Lester is barreling our way. If you’re reading this in Hawaii, get off your okole (Hawaiian term for rear-end) and take action before you get walloped. If you’re somewhere else, get ready anyway. You can’t predict every catastrophe, but these twenty idiot-proof hacks will set you on the road to preparation.

1. Take Shelter

Don’t do what I did during Hurricane Hugo and windsurf flooded streets with blown out window panes. Stay inside during a storm. Move to a safe location well ahead of time. For those in flood zones and unsafe structures, find a designated shelter on your local government website.

For those like myself who live in a large building or skyscraper, move to the stairwell or the center of the building, and stay away from glass. If you’re stuck outside, move away from trees or objects. Lie down flat and protect your head with your hands.

2. Get Water Before The Storm

Be fierce, not fiercely stupid. Stock up on water three days ahead of any major storm to prevent long lines and high prices. Use the tap and store water in washed plastic containers.

If you have a bathtub, you’re in luck. Kits like the waterBOB will help, but fill it regardless before the onset of a major storm if you don’t have supplies elsewhere. The sink can also hold five to ten gallons. Line it with plastic if that’s all you have.

If you love coffee or soda, you’ll be happy to know you will get hydrated in spite of the caffeine. You can even enjoy a few beers, assuming they’re light beers, and stave off dehydration in a pinch, just avoid high alcohol content and too much sun.

3. Water After The Storm

Boil water when you’re unsure about its cleanliness. Use a grill to heat water without electricity. In the absence of both, a little unscented bleach will do the trick of killing most bacteria. Eight drops of bleach per gallon of water is the rule.

If you’re stuck with saltwater or some other liquid you’re not sure about, use evaporation and condensation to collect evaporated water. Use an oversize lid to create a lip for easy dripping over a hot stove.

Homemade filters and UV light can work too, but you likely won’t have either, and a homemade filter should be your last resort.

4. Plenty of Food & Disaster Supply Kit

Don’t expect to go fishing right after a storm. Brown-water and sewage leaks can make fish unsafe, so stock up well ahead of time. The day before the storm is too late. Be ready to use your grill when the power goes out to avoid wasted meat and vegetables. Check the expiration date on your food before storage. Canned foods last longer. Nutrient, calorie-dense foods like peanut-butter and canned fish are excellent. Nuts, cereal, protein bars, dried fruits, and multi-vitamins are all must-haves. Don’t forget powdered milk.

Your disaster supply kit should include both first aid and tools. You should also have items that can contact people, such as a whistle and flares. It also helps if your kit is in a portable, waterproof container with a handle.

5. Have Batteries and chargers

Solar powered AA and AAA battery chargers are best. You can also find solar powered phone chargers. If you prefer, you can have a small cache of lithium powered batteries for your small appliances. Get a full charge on all laptops and cell-phones before the storm hits, and a few crank or hand-powered radios and flashlights couldn’t hurt either.

6. Fill up on Gas

Don’t get stuck in a gas line 12 hours before landfall. Grab a full tank at least 48 hours ahead of time. Three days is even better. You should also have an emergency no-spill fuel can in case you run out before you can refill.If you’re one of the lucky few with a generator, make sure you have enough diesel to last.

7. Evacuation Plans

Set up plans well ahead of time for any evacuation. Know where you’re going and who you’re going with. Inform your family and agree to meet up at the same spot in case you get separated. In most cases, you can use the same plan for different types of emergencies. Keep in mind that most hurricane-related deaths occur because of flooding due to storm surge. If you’re in a flood zone, move to higher ground. It’s better to err on the side of safety then pay the price with your life.

8. Contact Friends and Relatives

You don’t want your family frantically tying up valuable bandwidth during emergencies. Before the storm, let them know where you’re going and when you’ll contact them once the storm is over.

9. Note Emergency Management Offices

Locate emergency offices and contact information beforehand in the event that your home is destroyed or you need other resources.

10. Emergency Documents & Resume

You should always have your passports, birth certificates, and other important identification papers in the same place at all times. You should also have a backup set or copy together in a separate location. They should both be easy grab. Don’t forget to update your resume. If your house or job is trashed, you may need to seek employment.

11. Electronic Backup of Emergency Documents.

Scan or take photos of your documents and store them digitally. In the event you have to drop everything, you’ll at least have a fallback. A scanned birth certificate and social-security card can serve as ID at many locations. You should also scan your passport or other forms of identification along with tax records if you don’t have digital copies.

12. Computer Files

Back up your computer files and photos on the cloud. Use Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive for free, and keep track of your passwords.

13. Insurance policies

Are you covered in a flood? Check your policy. What are your deductibles? Take stock of home, renters, auto, and health insurance. Know what to expect in the worst-case scenario so you’re not blindsided when the worst happens. Don’t forget about life-insurance. Ten times your average salary on a term-life policy will get you your best bang for the buck and protect your loved ones in the event of the worst.

14. Cash

ATM’s and banks may be closed. Have a few hundred dollars emergency cash on hand for food, gas, water, and transportation.

15. Bartering Currency

Should you run out of cash, some items are nearly as good in emergencies. Water purification tablets, food, toiletries, tools, gas, batteries, and similar consumables can be easily traded. It’s good sense to have extra should those around you need help.

16. Bills

Inventory your bills before a storm hits. Notify your creditors of potential delays. In most cases, they’ll be accommodating. Make a budget if you don’t have one already. Prioritize in the event you can’t pay all of them.

17. Prescription Medicine

Include contact lens prescriptions on hand. Make sure you stock up on the legally allowed amount of prescription meds. You don’t know how long you’ll have to wait for the next refill.

18. Pet Accommodations

Surprisingly, lack of room for pets is one of the main reasons people choose not to evacuate. Locate which shelters will accept pets. Don’t forget pet food.

19. Get Organized

Keep your supplies, kit, and plans in the same location. Keep it simple. Restock your supplies, double check your contacts, and check expiration dates at least twice a year. Schedule a date on your calendar every six-months to review your plans and supplies.

20. Stay Informed

Make it your business to know what’s happening and where you need to go next. Discover when the storm is predicted to hit and if and when your area is being evacuated. Don’t wait until the last minute. Be prepared to make changes based on the situation. Keep plugged in to your local emergency resource.

Now you know the basics, so do something about it. Get started now before it’s too late. Knowing is useless if you don’t take action. For more info check out this informative tweet from Hawaiian Electric:

About the author:

Roy Huff is a best-selling fantasy author, Lifehack expert, teacher, and former University of Hawaii research meteorologist. Two of his five degrees include extensive study in meteorology. His research has graced the cover of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society as recently as October 2015, and he has since appeared numerous times in TV, audio, and print. You can follow Roy on Twitter @evervillefans or his most recent author interview here.

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