Hurricane Preparation: A List for Parents: Your hurricane preparation should be customized to meet your family’s needs.
Hurricane Preparation is Part of Life in the South. I’m talking about big hurricanes that make the national news and little hurricanes no one really remembers. Preparing for a hurricane is different when you are a parent.
Hurricane Preparation Before You Are a Parent
When you are a kid you may be excited because they canceled school. When you are an adult you also may be excited because they canceled work. Hurricane parties are a thing. Read about it here:
I don’t remember which of the four storms occasioned the slip-and-slide, only that it must have been toward the end because we were getting restless. Every new hurricane had brought the same routine: Replenish the stockpile of water and food, fill the car with gas, and go to a hurricane party, a tradition among residents of the southeast, where hurricanes hit so often everyone’s got a friend who’s rebuilt a house at least twice. Usually, someone who lives on high ground offers shelter in exchange for conversation, games, and booze. You show up, drink beer. Wait for the power to go out. Repeat.
A hurricane party is sufficient entertainment for a single natural disaster, but by the time of the slip-and-slide we’d told all our best jokes. Everyone was out of stories, and if one more person suggested a game of gin rummy it was going to come to blows. The task of staying alive, when it’s your only responsibility, can be grating.
Hurricane Preparation after you are a Parent
But when you are a parent, you are keenly aware that there are people whose lives depend on you. That awareness is intensified when you are a foster parent. A hurricane can bring with it dangerous weather conditions like high winds or flooding. However, I am here to tell you, Dear Reader, that most of the time the worst part about dealing with a hurricane (or even preparing for an exceptionally tornado-prone evening) is the power outage and school closures. You don’t even have to live close to where the storm makes landfall to have a high risk of power outages. No one likes losing precious electricity, especially mamas of little kids!
Hurricane Preparation for Parents: Lessons Learned by this mama
When it comes to preparing for a storm, this is not my first rodeo. We have done it well and poorly with little kids and without, with big kids and without, false alarms, with school closed, with foster kids, with extended family and without.
Hurricane season starts June 1 and ends Nov 30. June will be here before you know it.
Because I recently got UBER organized, I have created a list of things to do every time there is a storm with a name. I keep it saved on my phone as a note so that I can pull it up to remind me; each and every time. You have to be prepared. It is important to be prepared not because you are worried necessarily, but because everyone ELSE loses their mind! You need to be prepared because you will want to beat the crazies to the store to buy the milk your particular kid with special dietary needs requires. The first thing the stores run out of is milk. And bread.
Most of the time a hurricane watch is a false alarm and all that prep you just did was for nothing! That is enough frustration and wasted money to drive a mama nuts. But what If it was not a false alarm? What if your life ended up depending on this preparation?
What if the choice was not between life or death, but between a chill day at home with bad weather outside and a hectic prison of children and stress? And no milk and bread.
Don’t Take My Word for It. Do Your Own Research. Make Your List.
Don’t Take My Word for It. Do Your Own Research. Make Your List. Credible sources like the Red Cross offer tips and provide people with preparation information for weather disasters, but I will provide you with my customized hurricane preparation list. It is customized to meet my family which includes five children from teenager to infant.
Planning Ahead for a False Alarm
You want to make sure that what you purchase for your hurricane provisions also has an alternative use in your life in the event of a false alarm. Alternatively you may want to think ahead about a plan to donate the extra items after the threat has subsided. The year after Hurricane Katrina, we were so traumatized that we over prepared for the following season. Well, it turned out that we did not have much use for all that water and canned meat because it was a mild hurricane season for the next several years. All the food and water expired and ended up being thrown out.
The key is not to get so much it goes bad before you use it up or before next hurricane season and to not get stuff you would not use anyway in your day-to-day life.
My OWN Hurricane Prep List
Buy Food and Drink.
You may want to hide some of this in the car so the kids don’t eat it all before the storm even arrives.
Buy canned foods that include protein and a hand operated can opener.
- vienna sausage (foster kids loved them)
- spaghetti and meatballs
- beef stew
- p3 snack packs
- beef jerky
- trail mix
- snack crackers
- breakfast bars
- granola bars
The chocolate is important because evacuating or not, hurricanes are stressful and chocolate is delicious. You really hit the jackpot if your hurricane threat coincides with Halloween candy availability at Cosco.
- sport drinks or juice or whatever your kids want because
DEHYDRATION is NO JOKE! Bottled water is most important. Don’t skimp. You can donate the extra to the marching band or food pantry.
Take Flashlight and Battery Inventory
Take inventory of your go-to flashlights, and know the battery situation. What size and how many? Each year for the first storm, I buy fresh batteries for the flashlight box, and transfer last years batteries to the kids room to fuel the wii controllers. Also make sure there are plenty of kid flashlights in addition to adult flashlights. Make sure your children know which flashlights are FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY, which means off limits to them. And make sure they know which ones are free for them to use to hunt for a missing lego under the bed or play flashlight tag at sleep overs.
In our house we need:
- D batteries for the mag light
- AA and AAA for the little flashlights
I like to have reliable kid flashlights for Halloween trick-or-treating anyway, so this is an example of things you will stock up on for Hurricane season that will have an alternate use.
Charge the Dewalt radio battery and spare battery in the drill.
We have a collection of Dewalt tools that share batteries. We use them all year, especially the drill and radio. They earn the place of living in the laundry room rather than in the garage because we use them so often. As long as both the drill and the radio battery are charged, we will have 2 batteries worth of radio use after the power goes out.
- Write down the reliable local radio stations and have it tuned to your preferred station ahead of time.
Wash ALL THE CLOTHES!
Wash all the clothes! There are few things worse than no clean towels and no AC with dirty laundry stinking up the halls during a tornado warning hang out.
Fill the Cars with Gas
Fill the cars with gas because you may need to make an evacuation for your family. You’ll use the gas anyway, but if the storm hits another area, other evacuees passing through will be needing gas too. The lines will be long or they will run out of gas all together. After the storm, the gas pumps may not work without power. Also after the storm the credit card machines won’t work without internet which leads me to the next tip…
Go ahead and get some cash. Hurricane season hits around back to school time, so you know, you can always use that cash for art fees, year book fees, school picture packages, science lab fees, football tickets, whatever. When power is out credit card machines do not work and banks will be closed.
Cook all the food in the fridge and use up left overs.
Cook up all the food in fridge, and use up any leftovers. Use up as much fresh produce and meat and stuff too. It will all go bad if power is lost.
Clean the bathroom.
- This is important. Listen to me again. Clean the bathroom. You are going to want to clean it so that it won’t stink if your family is all squeezed in there for a tornado warning.
OH my gosh. This is so important. The likelihood of a tornado destroying your house is small. However, the likelihood of enduring an hour or more at a time in your designated safe space with your children while you wait it out is VERY HIGH. It is not productive to yell at the teenage boys about their aim while fearing for your safety during a natural disaster.
Gather the phone chargers and a power strip for the bathroom hide-away.
Gather chargers and a power strip for hanging out in the hall or the bathroom or closet depending on where you go during a tornado warning. While you are in there you will be obsessing over the weather app and texting friends and family. Using your electronics passes the time, but you don’t want to use up the battery in case you lose power. Keep phones charged all day long even if its not a tornado warning. See above.
Get all the medicine.
- Get all the medicine. Refill the prescriptions. Usually when I hear this tip, I assume they are talking about heart medications and diabetes injections. That’s where my mind goes. If that applies to you, do take care of those needs. Other things to consider…
- Stock up on Tylenol and what not. Ensure all anxiety and ADHD medications, antidepressants, birth control are in full supply. Stock up on seasonal allergy medicine too. Pollen count was through the roof after the past few storms, and it was handy to be prepared. I will never be without poison ivy treatment again. I had a freak outbreak right before Hurricane Katrina which got worse under stress and heat.
I’m serious about that birth control thing. There is a Katrina baby boom. Its a thing. https://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=2248604
At Tulane Medical Center, baby Dakota Dobson is the 26th newborn to be admitted to a neonatology ward that is designed to care for 20 babies at its maximum capacity.
When asked when they conceived Dakota, her dad, Dennis, joked there was “no cable” and the electricity was out.
“Honestly, with the electricity and cable being out, one thing led to another. We have this bundle of joy,” said another new dad, Ralph Tankersley, while cuddling his baby Aubrey at Ochsner Hospital.
We also spoke with Rebecca Doss who recently gave birth to twins Skyler and Tyler, and noted, “I guess this is what happens when you don’t have electricity.”
Another cause could have been the lack of access to prescriptions after Hurricane Katrina. “The fact that you don’t know where your doctors are and you can’t get your birth control pills refilled — I think that all has a lot to do with this,” French said.
Collect important information and keep in a folder
Make a grab and go folder with vital info. I’m working on a blog post about this in the future, but essentially it is written down phone numbers of important people, copies of insurance cards, copy of the custody letter of the foster children in your care, a long distance phone card, the important stuff that we take for granted is on our phone or on the internet, but we might need it if the power goes out, our phone dies, or the cell service is unavailable.
So there you have it. The unofficial way to be prepared for your next hurricane.