Mother Nature isn’t something we should take for grated. As the east coast scrambles to prepare for a hybrid hurricane-style storm, many are hesitant. Despite the length of time forecasters have been watching this storm and the seriousness of the prediction, many people are still skeptical about whether or not the news anchors have it right.

As those who live in true hurricane zones can tell you, it’s simply not worth questioning. If – now or ever – you find yourself faced with serious storm prep, consider the following.

Preparing Your Home’s Exterior

Start with the exterior of your home. If you are in a coastal zone, board up your windows with wood that is at least 5/8 inches thick. Take anything that could be blown by the wind and put it indoors – including outdoor furniture, lawn ornaments, toys, bicycles, and flags. If you have a garage, consider reinforcing the main door.

Make sure you take some time to clear all of your home’s gutters from debris. This last point is especially important now, during the fall months where gutters tend to become clogged with leaves.

Prepare for a Hurricane

Inside Your Home

Once the outside is taken care of, prepare the inside of your home. With storms with high winds, there is always the possibility of a tornado forming. Make sure your family knows where to go if such a thing should occur – whether you have a storm cellar or a properly located bathroom.

Gather your candles, flashlights, battery operated radios, and other necessary supplies. I keep all of my candles, flashlights, and camping lanterns in a box along with lighters and spare batteries reserved for these items only. When a storm approaches, I don’t have to fight the masses in the stores for flashlights. Instead I just check to make sure everything is in working order.

Make sure you have plenty of fresh water on hand. The general rule of thumb is to have one gallon of water per day per each person in your house – with enough to last for three days. That means if you are a family if 5 you should, ideally, have 15 gallons of water on hand. If you have pets, you should have a little more.

One of the major concerns in a storm is a power outage. Don’t run to the store and buy up tons of frozen foods, milk, and ice cream. What will you do to eat or cook them when the power goes out? Instead, stock up on non-perishable food items – cans of soup, chili, beans, bread, peanut butter, jelly, and similar items. Make sure you either have flip-top cans or that you have a manual can opener on hand.

Turn up the fridge so that it is at its coolest. This will help keep the insides cold longer if you lose power. Fill your bathtub or some buckets with water, too. You won’t use this for drinking, but you’ll be able to pour some into your toilet so that you can continue flushing if the power goes out.

Evacuation Procedures

Please, don’t take things too lightly. If you are told that an evacuation is mandatory, do as you are told and get to safer ground. Most low-lying and coastal areas will flood during a hurricane.

Pack a go-bag just in case something should happen and you need to leave your home. Include important documents like birth certificates, deeds, and licenses as well as medications, a change of clothing for each person, food, and pet supplies. Packing the bag shouldn’t take much time and is just as easy to unpack if you end up not needing it.

Make sure you have a plan and know where you can go if you do need to evacuate. Fill your gas tank before the storm and check a map, marking evacuation routes. Stick to the most commonly known routes, as they are safest. Many areas open evacuation centers. If you don’t have a family member to stay with, know where these centers are.

Even though the media likes to give storms super-scary names, the general rule of thumb is that it is better to be safe and prepared than sorry and sitting on your roof waiting to be rescued. Always use caution.

Dane Randleman is a home improvement expert who spends a great deal of time on storm prep and recovery. Check your door seals, windows, and roofs to make sure everything is in order – year round – and you’ll have less to worry about when storms roll around.

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