By now, Floridians have weathered many a storm. We have all gone over our checklists of basic survival supplies and know what to have on hand. But what about after that? With survival supplies covered, the days following a hurricane can still be miserable with long power outages. Here’s how to be a little more comfortable – before, during and after a hurricane.
1. Prep and Paint
Those of us that have been through major storms know to board up our windows, yet there is always a mad dash and scramble to get plywood in the days, and even hours, before a hurricane hits. This is usually because people have not properly stored or have disposed of their window coverings since the last storm. If roll-down shutters or corrugated storm panels are not in your budget, then secure plywood that completely covers your window is the way to go before a storm. You don’t have to wait until one is looming off the coast to get ready, however. Hit the store now for plywood, pre-measure and cut to fit your windows and label which window they go on. This is a lot less stressful without a hurricane breathing down your neck, and you don’t run the risk of the stores running out from the mad dash for supplies. Most importantly, paint all sides of the wood with a durable outdoor paint. This prevents rot during the rest of the year when they are stored and they will be ready for the next storm. It may be tempting to use the wood elsewhere or to get rid of it to make room, but when the next storm hits and you’re not scrambling, you’ll be thanking yourself for thinking ahead.
2. Shed Some Light
Emergency light bulbs are an easy addition to your home that will come in handy anytime a power outage strikes (which is not uncommon in Florida). Also known as power failure bulbs, these LED bulbs can be screwed into any fixture just like a normal lightbulb but have a battery backup system that automatically charges while you use it normally. When the power goes out, the system detects the outage and the emergency light comes on using its reserve power. Many bulbs even come with their own hangers so they can be moved around as needed without being placed in a fixture. Find them on Amazon or at big box and home improvement stores.
3. Power Up
Many Floridians have invested in generators to power up appliances, lights and even air conditioning after a storm. However, a generator can’t be used in the rain and you certainly can’t run out in the midst of a storm to power one up. An uninterrupted power supply (UPS) can be used for a short period of time during an outage in the middle of a storm. A UPS is a continually charging battery backup that also acts as a surge protector for your most valuable devices. Plug in your computer or TV and the UPS will not only prevent them from burning up in a surge, but will also automatically switch to backup power to prevent the device from shutting down – giving you time to save your work on the computer or not miss a second of that important weather update on TV.
This feature makes it an invaluable investment for your home year-round. My power actually went out in the middle of writing this article, but my computer stayed on and I didn’t lose my work! In a storm, you can use a fully charged UPS to power your cellphones, a TV, computer or even plug in some lamps or fans. A countdown screen will show you how much power you have left in minutes based on what’s plugged in. Lower power devices like LED bulbs will last the longest. While these can’t be used for appliances, they are a good thing to have on hand to keep you comfortable in the middle of the storm. Find them on Amazon, wholesale clubs or office supply stores.
4. Slow it Down
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 through November 30 which includes the hottest months of the year. In the days after a storm, especially if you are running on generator power, the last thing you want to do is warm up your house with a hot oven or stove. If you have a plan to restore power after a storm, consider prepping some slow cooker meals. You can dump all the ingredients in a sealable, freezable plastic bag and write the instructions right on the bag. Pop them in the freezer, or move them to a cooler if your power fails. We fill our extra freezer space with small bags of ice and frozen water bottles. This helps things stay cold for longer after the power goes out. In those days to come, when you’re busy cleaning up debris or just trying to find a way to keep cool, you can empty a prepped recipe into the slow cooker and forget about it until mealtime. Find recipes on popular sites like Pinterest and plan your post-storm week ahead of time.