The Hurricane Pantry, Supplies and Plan
HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE
I grew up in South Florida so when I was a teenager having a hurricane meant, “Where’s the Party?”. Growing up in South Florida it was common to prepare for hurricanes but as an adult I rarely bothered to do much until a few years ago when my area was hit by two hurricanes, one right after the other. Both of them caused quite a lot of damage to the trees which resulted in damage to the house and garage. However the second one was quite a challenge having no electricity for 16 days. And when the power did come on the surge caused a fire in the kitchen. It is a miracle the house is still standing and I am still here. My neighbor was outside checking his lights about 4:30 am when the power came on and saw the black smoke coming from my kitchen windows. I prepare in advance now so if a storm is imminent I really don’t have to go out to purchase anything and can focus on the maintenance of my yard and home. I thought I would share a few ideas with you, especially new residents of Florida. Starting at the end of May I make sure I prepare what I have in the freezer so it will be about 80% empty and buy only weekly the meats, dairy and vegetables that will be eaten. This way there is plenty of space for all the ice making necessary and the loss of food is lowered greatly. Some people say they will just grill it all but it is a problem to store. Once the stores are open I just buy what I will cook that day.
Water, Refrigeration and Cooking
Buy plenty of 1 gallon bottles of water.
I have an old refrigerator in the garage (the one that was damaged in the fire) that I plug in during Hurricane Season and stock with bottles of water and the freezer is filled with empty milk, orange or soft drink bottles filled with water so I will have plenty of blocks of ice for the coolers.
The old refrigerator with large bottles of water that when frozen are great for coolers.
Wash and clean out the coolers so they are ready for a fast transition when you must remove everything from your refrigerators and freezers.
Clean your refrigerators and freezers and do so the first of every month during hurricane season (June-November). A day before the hurricane turn your in-house refrigerator to the “Coldest” settings. You will want everything as cold as possible and do not keep opening it up to look at the contents. If you do this your perishables will be saved for about 2 days. If you have an ice-maker, bag all ice as it fills its maximum level and keep making ice as long as you can.
Adjust refrigerator to coldest settings.
“Contact”. You need to communicate and this is “Old School” but it only costs about $10.oo for an inexpensive landline. There are times when you need it and it is the only thing that works.
“Information”. Another “Old School” standby. Yes, you have every modern day mobile device, but keep one of these around when all else fails, it does happen.
Make sure your grill is clean and operating. If it is a gas grill plan on having extra gas on hand. And if you use charcoal, buy a few extra bags as that is one item that is hard to find after a storm hits and everyone is using their grills for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I bought a portable one-burner propane as it is so much easier to just heat water for coffee in the morning and some nice warm water for at least washing your face. Cold showers for a couple of weeks get really old fast and warm water is the only thing that will really wash your hair. Don’t forget to buy some extra propane tanks.
A fondue pot comes in handy to just heat up something quick, or maybe if you’re lucky something somebody gave you to heat up!
Have additional fuel for various burners you have.
Flashlights, Lamps, Batteries and Candles
There can never be enough of them! I keep a flashlight in every room all through the year as well as candles and matches. I tripped one year and smashed right into the kitchen countertop, nice , two black eyes for a few weeks (a concussion is not a good thing to have during a hurricane). I store all of the items in one of the coolers in the back of a closet so it is a one-stop process to collect it all when necessary.
Buy anything that has a charger as you can charge these items in your car or at work.
Make sure all flashlights are working properly by checking batteries and bulbs.
A lantern is great general lighting for a room.
Check which batteries and additional bulbs you need.
Candles of all sizes. Be sure to use safe vessels for all candles and monitor their use.
Matches, lighters and starters you will be using frequently.
Mosquito repellant and mosquito repellant candles.
Bleach, Baking Soda and Ammonia
Bleach to purify your water, baking soda for refrigerators and freezers, ammonia for bug bites.
Beverages and Foods
Shelf, canned and powdered milk are a requirement in my house.
Flavored drinks to mix with water and/or boxes of juice for a change of pace and you can refrigerate in small quantities.
Thermal containers will keep things cold and will preserve your ice supply. (Making friends with your local convenience store will probably get you some ice when nobody else can.)
Favorite specialty waters and lemons or other fruits to add to them are a nice treat that you will want and deserve.
Boxes or cans of soup are handy for a quick meal.
Tins, cans and jars of some of your favorite foods to either snack on or make a meal.
Jars and cans of some of your favorites can make a salad a special treat or a nice antipasto.
Some store-bought salad dressings will help out in quick meal preparations
Jams, Jellies and Peanut Butter are a welcome sight when you want something sweet.
A selection of cookies and crackers.
Nuts, nuts, and more nuts. A wonderful snack and something great to add to salads for crunch.
Kitchen Gadgets and Table Settings
Make sure you have bottle, jar, can and wine openers with your supplies
Buy plenty of paper plates, cups, bowls and napkins. Plastic utensils are also a good choice as you will not want to be washing dishes and utensils without electricity (and there is no “hot” water and sometimes no water).
Update you Home First Aid Kit.
Shop for fruits and vegetables that will last a few days without refrigeration when you are sure you will be in the storm’s path.
Do the laundry, all of it! Change all the beds in the house for a fresh start. Make sure you have plenty of clothes ready that are comfortable and cool. but long sleeves and long pants are necessary as well for working outside.
Keep some basic tools, shutter repair items and a selection of rope, wire, tape etc. in the house.
Have rain ponchos in the house for everyone (you might be going outside in some unbelievable rain to make a necessary repair).
Have a camera and batteries for the camera ready should you incur damage to your property to document for your insurance company. (sorry, nobody here to take the pic}
Outdoor Cleanup and Securing the Property
In Florida you must complete major tree cuttings by the end of May which is a good thing, as you will have enough to do outside just to store lawn furniture, potted plants and miscellaneous items. The last thing you have to do is secure your hurricane shutters. Depending on the style of your home and the type of shutters you have will dictate the time of the event and the time allocated for this job. Some people need professional help and that should be booked well in advance of a storm. You may have to pay a handyman for assistance but you should let them know well in advance as their services are hard to find 24 hours before a storm.
The very LAST thing to do outside is to roll up and store the hoses on your property and the very FIRST thing to do is hook up your hoses when it is safe to go outside.
If you do lose power be sure to turn all breakers OFF.
Get your list started and completed. It is exhausting work getting through a hurricane and having these things ready will relieve you of some stress. And since I wrote this I realize I have a “To Do” list,, which thankfully is very short.
“Plan Your Work, and Work Your Plan”
If you have hurricane information, photos and any stories to share, please send them to me, it takes a very long time to get over a storm that comes through your life so quickly.