Homepage House Preparations Evacuation by Vehicle Pets Food Lighting Generators
 
     

An extensive and comprehensive web site providing personal Hurricane Preparedness information.  This site includes checklists and other useful information as you and your family prepare for a hurricane or tropical storm.

The material contained in these pages are the author's opinions, and do not reflect that of any other person or entity.  You are advised to seek expert opinion if you have questions or concerns about your specific emergency preparedness situation.

About This Website
This website is a non-commercial endeavor to help folks prepare for tropical storms and hurricanes; especially along the Gulf of Mexico coast and eastern seaboard.  You can send questions or comments to the author at HurricaneHaskell@gmail.com, and I will endeavor to answer as soon as possible.  Since this is a non-commercial endeavor, you will not receive unwanted emails, and your contact info will never be sold to a third party.  

 

 

Hurricane Matthew Preparedness Information

 

In order to help folks prepare for Hurricane Matthew, the home page has been dedicated to last minute checklist and to-do items.  This is primarily aimed at residents in Florida, North and South Carolina, and extending up the east coast of the US.  Of course, be sure to check out the tabs at the top of the page that will take you to the detailed checklist and information on the rest of the site.  For the latest official information on Hurricane Matthew, click this link to go to the National Hurricane Center.  These updates were done rather quickly and late in the evening, so please forgive any typographical errors!

 

Fuel Info

For those trying to find gasoline along your evacuation route, check out this link: http://tracker.gasbuddy.com/

 

Run From The Water, Hide From The Wind!
This is the advice given by emergency management professionals across the United States.  In essence, if you are in an area that is high and safe, and you have not been advised to evacuate by government officials, then you should consider sheltering in place.  However, unless you've been told to evacuate,  that decision is ultimately up to you. You should take into consideration three key factors: 1) how safe is your home given the size and intensity of the approaching storm, 2) how reliable is your mode of transportation and your ability to evacuate, and 3) do you have a place to go.   Also, a key consideration is the health of your family members, and the ability to obtain medical services after the storm passes.  For example, dialysis patients in the path of the storm should consider evacuating to a place where electricity and medical services will be more reliable.

If you are along the coast, or an area that is prone to storm surge, then it is especially important that you heed the advice of government officials.  Nearly 90% of all hurricane-related deaths are due to drowning!  Also, keep in mind that the pre-storm surge can arrive hours or days in advance of the hurricane, cutting off escape routes, and leaving you stranded and in danger.  So if you are going to evacuate, sooner is usually better, and never put it off until the last minute.

General Hurricane Preparedness
Perhaps the most emotional commodity, and the one that is typically is short supply before and after a storm, is gasoline.  You are strongly advised to keep your automobile's gas tank topped off, and to obtain any gasoline that you wish to store very early on.  Panic buying has already begun in the potential impact areas for Matthew, so you should certainly not procrastinate buying your emergency supplies--especially gasoline!

The one thing that I emphatically stress in my training sessions is to start your preparations and shopping with a prioritized checklist for each.  On the shopping checklist, which I suggest you create in Microsoft Excel (though even a writing table and a #2 pencil will work!), you should have three columns.  Column one is the priority in which the item should be obtained, two is the item to be purchased, and three is for comments.  Then, sort the list by priority, and you should be ready to start shopping.  My golden rule of shopping for emergency supplies is this: The time to buy something you need is when you see it!  You may go in the store and there could be ten pallets of water by the door, and then as you prepare to check out 20 minutes later, it could all be gone!  So if you see something you legitimately need, pick it up then and there.

For my to-do list, I recommend an Excel spreadsheet with four columns: Column one is again for priority, two is the task to be accomplished, three is the person performing the task (assuming more than one person is making the preparations), and four is the estimated time it takes to accomplish the task.  If you have prepared this list carefully, it will help you in immensely in your preparations. It will ensure you do the most important things in the right order and it will keep everyone focused on their particular task at hand.  And finally, it will give you an estimate of how long it will take you and your family to get ready for the storm.  This exercise is best performed with members of the entire family around the kitchen table so you can get everyone's input and buy-in.

You should also focus on emergency medications for your family members (and pets) that are critical to their well being.  It is recommended that you have a sufficient supply of items such as insulin, heart medicine, or any other critical medications to not only carry you through the storm, but also to be prepared for any supply chain disruptions that may occur after the storm.  Remember, pharmacies won't be open if there's no power to run lights, cash registers, air conditioning, and refrigeration.  

Sheltering In Place
There are several things that you should do now in preparation for not only a hurricane, but to be ready for nearly any emergency situation that may arise.

As far as shopping for sheltering in place, food and water should obviously be at the top of the list.  For water, the recommendation is about a gallon of water per person per day for drinking and food preparation, and I really like the 16.9 ounce plastic bottles.  They can also be frozen without rupturing, and make a great source of ice for the cooler.  As a rule of thumb, 8 of the 16 OZ bottles equal one gallon of water.  Be sure to factor in water for your pets.  Also, take into consideration that if you are going to be working outdoors after the storm to perform clean-up or repairs, you'll probably consume more water than usual.  At a minimum, you should have food and water for all family members for at least seven-to-ten days.  

I consider "Lights" important enough to give it its own tab on this site.  At a minimum, you should have at least two good, robust, reliable flashlights and plenty of batteries, before the storm.  I like the MAGLITE 3D cell with the LED bulb.  They cost a little more than your dollar-store variety, but considering your life may depend on a flashlight in an emergency, it's money well spent.  (And by the way, ignore the prices on the MAGLITE website, and check out your local sporting goods store, where they are roughly half the advertised cost!).  Finally, be sure to test your batteries IN the flashlight before you need it.  I can't tell you how many stories I've heard about folks buying D-cell flashlights and C-cell batteries.  One final note on lighting: I NEVER recommend candles, lanterns or any lighting that uses open flames.  Being in a hurricane is bad enough without setting your house on fire!  And again, refer to the "Lights" tab for much more info on this subject.

For food, I also don't recommend expensive MREs or other "emergency food", but instead recommend that folks stock up on those foods that do not require refrigeration, and that they normally eat on a regular basis.  Canned items such as chicken or tuna, soups, rice, pasta, fresh fruits and vegetables, crackers and peanut butter are but a few of the things we keep in the pantry at our house for emergencies.  Also, even if you have a generator, you should not rely on refrigerated food in case you run out of gas or the generator fails.  You should keep your food in water-proof containers when possible, and store it up high to prevent contamination in the event of flooding.

For hygiene (hand washing and bathing), the experts recommend about two or three gallons of water per day.  A great place to store this water is in your home tub.  Just clean the tub thoroughly, then fill it up to the overflow drain.  Be sure to check your tub ahead of time to ensure the stopper does not leak.  If it does, apply a small bead of silicon sealer to the stopper before filling the tub.  Afterwards, it should just peal right off.  Another way to store water is in the WaterBOB emergency water storage bladder.  It fits right in your tub, and keeps the water safe for drinking and washing for up to 30 days.  It even comes with its own built-in hand pump for convenience.  There are also five gallon plastic containers online and at your local sporting goods store.  Of course, if you have a five-gallon bucket, you can fill this with water from a nearby pool and use it to flush the toilet.  

Keep in mind that in any emergency situation, cash is king!  ATM machines will empty days before the storm, and even some small banks may run low.  Try to have some cash on hand before the storm arrives.  Also, have a portion of your cash in small denominations since armored cars won't be running and stores may run out of small bills for change.  If phone lines are down, credit card process may grind to a halt and cash may be the only way to purchase essential items.  Also, for emergency repairs after the storm, many contractors will prefer cash.

Also of great importance are the items you'll need to get by for a few days without utilities, especially electricity.  This includes battery powered or self-charging (crank style) flashlights, a good AM-FM radio, a weather radio, and perhaps a battery powered portable television.

During and after the storm, you may need to be your own police, fire and EMS until emergency services are restored.  I recommend that everyone have a good Emergency First Aid book and kit in their home, and take time to become familiar with both before they are needed.  You should also have a couple of good fire extinguishers, and check the gauges often to ensure they've not developed a leak.  I also recommend that you think about how you would defend your home and family in the event that someone tries to take advantage of the situation.  However, if you buy a firearm, be sure to store it responsibly and out of the reach of children and guest, and obtain training to ensure you are proficient with it.  See the  National Rifle Association training web page for more information. 

Emergency Evacuation
If you have been ordered to evacuate, or if you just make the decision to do so on your own, it's important that you carefully plan your evacuation.  You should attempt to make your vehicle as self-reliant as possible, and not stop for food, drink or anything else if it can be avoided.  This means having a cooler with plenty of drinks and food, paper towels, and even a portable potty (see the "Evacuation" tab for "Making a Portable Toilet For Your Car or Truck").  At a minimum, you should pack a few rolls of toilet paper because the public toilets will probably be out of stock along the emergency route.  Also, be sure to take along a couple of emergency flashlights with spare batteries in case you need to change a flat, make repairs, or if you run out of gas.  I also recommend a can of Fix-A-Flat so you can inflate a flat tire without having to change it while on the road.

As I mentioned earlier, gasoline is always one of the most critical factors.  Gasoline should never be transported inside of a trunk or on top of the car where it could leak onto or into the vehicle!  Though gasoline in a vehicle always poses some degree of risk, a bed of a pickup truck is one of the less dangerous places to transport it.  If you truck bed is not covered, then put a blue tarp or an old blanket over your gas stash.  During an emergency situation, people will literally kill for gasoline!  If you have a car with a trailer hitch, a trailer hitch cargo carrier may also be an option.  Again, be sure to cover your cans well and secure the cover with rope or bungee cords.

If you have a pet and plan on staying in a hotel or motel, you should look ahead for pet-friendly motels along your planned route (see the links on the "Pets" tab on this site for info on how to do this).  And speaking of pets, be sure to pack food, water, treats, toys, bowls, a leash, any medications and a pet carrier for your furry friends.  You should also take their medical records and vaccination papers should it be necessary to board them at your destination, or along the way.  I also recommend that you check with your vet regarding tranquilizers for your pet as this reduces motion sickness and makes life much more tolerable for both the pet and you!  

While on the road, be sure to drive safe and friendly.  My police friend always reminds me that "when seconds count, the police are only minutes away".  But as we found out in the Hurricane Rita evacuation, you couldn't even get through to the police on your cell phone, much less expect a response within a few hours.  So be friendly on the road and try to avoid a road rage incident at all costs.  After all, when you're in a line of cars 60 miles long, letting one or two folks get ahead of you probably won't matter that much in the grand scheme of things.  I'd also recommend that when in stop-and-go traffic that you avoid tailgating, and leave a car-length (or more) gap between you and the car in front of you.  In case he runs out of gas or breaks down, you will have room to maneuver around him.  This also has the added benefit of not sucking his exhaust into your ventilation system!

And speaking of cell phones, be sure to pack both car and AC chargers for them.  There's a good chance that you won't be able to make a call due to the overloaded cell towers, so try text messaging instead.  But for all practical purposes, you cell phone will be just an expensive paperweight during a full-blown evacuation.  At least, that was the case during the Rita evacuation.

Finally, before you head out the door, if you expect you will lose electricity while you are away, you can avoid a major stinking mess by cleaning out your refrigerator and freezer before you leave!  This includes things that will melt or smell bad when they thaw or get warm.  If you don't have a trash pickup due to the storm, you may just wish to double-bag it and set it in the garage until you can deal with it when you return.  And this, my friends, is the voice of experience from when we evacuated before Hurricane Rita!

 My Extensive Hurricane Preparedness Checklists
I think you will find this comprehensive spreadsheet useful for almost every aspect of your hurricane preparedness.  It  not only address food and supplies, but also has several checklist that covers everything from home preparations to evacuation supplies.   Remember, you will need to customize this list for your particular needs. 

Click here for the Hurricane Checklist - Excel Format

Click here for the Hurricane Checklist - PDF Format


Useful Links

Weather

KHOU Hurricane Central

National Weather Service - Houston

National Hurricane Center

Harris County Office of Emergency Management

Harris County Office of Emergency Management - Evacuation Information

Galveston County Office of Emergency Management

Weather Radio SAME Codes

Mike's Weather Page - Tons of Useful Links


 Miscellaneous

Houston Transtar Traffic Map

CenterPoint Outage Tracker

CenterPoint Outage StormCenter


About the Author


My name is Haskell Moore, and I'm just an average guy with a desire to help friends (including those I've not yet met), neighbors and co-workers prepare for hurricanes and the devastation they can bring.
  

I have been teaching Hurricane Preparedness for the Home and Family since 2005, and have had over 8,000 people attend my hurricane awareness training sessions.  I've been featured on CNN Radio, and in two specials for Houston's KHOU Channel 11.  I hope you found this material useful, and heed the advice on this site as you prepare for Hurricane Matthew!

 amateur ham radio, Haskell Moore, W5HLM.

 

Owner: Haskell L. Moore
All articles are property of the owner, and may not be reproduced in whole or part without
written permission from the author. Copyright © 2008 - 2016.
Email me at: HurricaneHaskell@gmail.com