It's the start of hurricane season. June – November is hurricane season here in the USA with it's peak being around August. Being born and raised in FL I know a thing or 2 about hurricanes, in fact I was in FL during Hurricane Charley, and I stood in the eye of Hurricane Charley in August 2004. Hurricane Charley was named one of the top 15 Most Costly Natural Disasters in History. Now is the time to start preparing for a hurricane! This CAN be done on a tight budgettoo!
Preparing for a Hurricane on a Budget
I went digging for hurricane pictures and while I can't find the ones of my house, I did came across these of my grandfather's house. The one below is of the side that got a brunt of the damage, and keep in mind his house was one of the house with the least damage in the area. The tarp is covering a huge hole in his roof. I think his house was saved because he was always over prepared and put the shutters up you see when there was a hurricane even near. Well correction my dad and I put the shutters up for him, I have many memories of those shutters putting them up, taking them down…. putting them up and taking them down…..
During the storm I remember being cooped up in the laundry room with my mom, dad, my brother and my 2 (very big) dogs. I can go on and on about the details after the hurricane, the small room, how we stayed at Grandfather's where we were all cramped into one room and more, but that's not what this post is about!
See during Hurricane Charley the storm was supposed to hit Tampa but it turned last minute and hit further south and hit us. Many were unprepared and are STILL trying to get back on track from the storm. I go home to visit and you can still see houses that have been abandoned because of lack of insurance money. I don't want that to happen to you. So get prepared NOW! Many of you are on a budget like I am. So here is how to get prepared on a budget.
Water. Water is a MUST and super easy to do on a budget! We take our empty milk containers and clean them out and then refill them with drinking water and store in the garage. You want to have a gallon of water per person per day for the recommended 3-7 days. Don't forget pets need an average of 1.75L of water a day as well.
When Hurricane Charley happened we needed a good 2 weeks of water. We took cold showers but it wasn't permitted to drink. You can cook with water as long as you boil it (more on that later)
Also when you know a hurricane is coming your way fill your bathtub. This water is great for sponge baths or as needed.
Food. Canned food is best to stock up. I suggest buying a few cans each shopping trip you can get items like Spaghetti Os on sale for $1 or less. Other great foods that work great are peanut butter, tuna, canned beans, cereals, protein bars, dried fruits, etc. Make sure you have a manual can opener to get into them!
Also once you are hit by a hurricane you need to cook up whatever food you have in the freezer or fridge (assuming your power is out which I'm willing to bet it will be) otherwise this food will go to waste.
This is where I suggest having a grill. A full propane tank and you can really cook anything on the grill. You can boil water and everything you can do on a stove. The first night I remember using up milk and butter and making Mac n cheese in the grill. We even made grilled cheese!
**Tip if a hurricane is heading your way will up the freezers with jugs and bottles of water they will freeze and help your food stay cold longer if the power goes out. Plus you have cold water which is a luxury.
Gas. You want to make sure your cars are filled up but also that you have some extra gas stored. Keep in mind pumps in the near area won't be pumping gas, we had to drive 30 miles just for gas! (we were using it for the generator or else it wouldn’t make since to drive that far!) Plus prices will go up not only after the storm but a much as 24 hours before it hits! I suggest filling up with rewards cards promotions like gas savings for buying groceries from stores like Weis, Giant ect. Also keep any discount gas cards handy.
Batteries. These are a must for things like flashlights and radios. They can also cost an arm and a leg. Watch for the battery deals on Tanga where you can score 20pc sets for only $4.99! I would also suggest getting a backup charger for your phone. You can also charge your phone in your car if you have a car charger. But conserve your phone's battery and turn it on just to make essential calls then turn it back off. Don't play on it.
Weather radio. If the power is out you will need a way to hear what is going on where relief stations are, who has gas ect. You can pick a Weather Radio on Amazon but personally I like this weather radio for only $19.99 and it comes with an LED flashlight built in! This saves you from having to spend money on a flashlight.
Important Documents. You will need a small lock box to keep important documents in. Things like birth certificates, social security cards, insurance papers, passports, a picture of each member of your household, your will ect. This will protect it from any damage. The roof caved in my parents’ bedroom had that stuff not been in a lock box it would have been ruined.
Lighting. I suggest flash lights and/or candles. You can pick up candles at the dollar store just to get a small supply on hand and make sure you have matches or a lighter on hand too!
Shelter. I would also plan on the worst case, not being able to live in your house. While my grandfather’s house was livable my parents’ house was not. I would suggest having a tent to fit your family (or a few smaller ones) and enough sleeping bags for everyone. You won’t be able to go get a hotel right away and if you do it will leave your house open for looting (a whole other topic)
I want to include some safety tips to help you prepare as well. Also, at the bottom of this post I have included a few more pictures courtesy of my neighbor Rose.
Just a few things to keep in mind:
Make sure to pull everything inside, your grill, patio furniture, flags, wind chimes and anything else that is loose. With the winds it won't be in your yard for long! Even if you have a screened in patio make sure to pull everything in. See that corner with all the trees in the picture below? That was all screened in on my grandfather's house, had he not pulled everything in it would have been gone.
Get some cheap sheets of wood from Lowes or Home Depot (don’t forget your military discount if you're Military!) Keep them in your garage to board up windows when needed. You will NOT be able to find these once you are in the path of a hurricane so stock up now.
Have an evacuation plan. Don’t wait until the last minute to evacuate and if you plan to evacuate pack early and try to stay with a friend or family member out of the area to save on money! Don’t wait until they evacuate you because traffic will be horrible!
Know your flood zone. If you live right by the water or a low flood zone you should plan to evacuate.
If you don’t plan to evacuate you need to find an interior room with no windows to wait out the storm. Much like in a tornado you want to stay away from windows because they can blow out and roofs can cave in so be prepared. Don't go in a basement there is always the possibility it can flood.
Hope this saves you a bit of money. The time to prepare in NOW before you need too that is the best way to save money. If you wait until the path cone is covering your area prices will be higher due to supply and demand.
**Some picture courtesy of my neighbor Rose.