Things to Do Before a Storm
It's been awhile since the last hurricane, which means a lot of people living here now haven't been through one yet and are probably wondering what they need to do. With that in mind, here are some helpful tips everyone could use, along with some things even seasoned hurricane veterans tend to forget about until it's too late.
The first thing to do is get your sandbags. After that, your main focus should be on protecting your doorways. For extra protection, put down some plastic (or even a garbage bag) and start laying the sandbags down like brickwork, making sure to lay the filled end of one bag on the unfilled end of another one.
Click here for a video that'll show you everything you need to know.
Filling your bathtubs and sinks up with water now will ensure that you have water during and after the storm, should there be an interruption in service.
Most people will remember to buy bottled water for drinking, but filling up your tubs and sinks will provide a supply of water for other uses, such as filling and flushing your toilet.
Spend a few minutes taking a bunch of pictures of all your things, just in case the worst happens and your house floods. You'll need them when you have to fight your insurance company later, and it always helps to have proof that you did actually own that weird, expensive sculpture you don't really like, but that your mother-in-law gave to you for your 5th wedding anniversary, so you can't really throw it out.
If flood waters reach your house, you really don't want a lot of things plugged in on or near the ground, because that's where the water lives. Unplug that stuff early, then move it to higher ground if you want to keep any of it. Stick everything on your kitchen table or something. It's not like you're going to be eating at it any time soon, especially if your house is all-electric and the power goes out.
The worst things to lose in any natural disaster are your memories, so figure out where you stuck your baby's photo album and move it to a safe, easily-accessible place, in case you need to grab it and go. You can probably leave some of your vacation albums, though. You've probably shown them to everybody you know way too many times already, and no one really cares about your trip to Cancun, Aunt Martha. No one.
Freeze some water now, because that's how you make ice. Ice keeps things cold, which your refrigerator will stop doing once the power goes out. If you have any empty milk jugs, fill them up with water now and stick them in your freezer. Blocks of ice melt more slowly than tiny little cubes, which can keep your food safe longer in the event of a sustained power outage. Just don't open your fridge until the lights come back on, no matter how much you want that leftover ham. It's not worth it.
Another good trick is to freeze some water in a container, then put a penny on top of it after it's frozen. If you evacuate and then come home, check the container to see if the penny is still on top of the ice. If it isn't - especially if it's at the bottom of the container - it means you lost power long enough for the ice to melt, which means you probably need to throw out whatever was in your freezer/fridge.
You don't want your car anywhere near flood waters, which is tricky because you can't really not park on the ground. Still, if you park your car on the street or at the lower end of your driveway, or anywhere else water tends to gather quickly, be sure not to do that before the storm rolls in. Park it on higher ground, unless you just want it to get flooded. I don't know, maybe you do. It's your life, pal. I'm not here to tell you have to live it.
It never hurts to fill up your tank early when a storm is coming, especially if the storm is headed to where we make the gas. The sooner you fill up before prices spike, the more you'll save.
Also, if you wait until things get bad, remember that the pumps won't work during power outages. You don't want to be sitting on an empty tank of gas when Waffle House opens and you realize all your food's gone bad because you didn't freeze any milk jugs. Trust me.
If you have a tablet, charge it up now. Charge your phones. Plug in your laptop and let it soak up some juice. If you have a kid with a Nintendo 3DS he makes fun of you for always calling a GameBoy, make sure its battery is full. Charge all your things now, and you'll at least have something to do for awhile after the power goes out before you have to turn to board games and books like it's 1975 and they don't have the internet on computers yet.
Did you know you could download movies and TV shows from Netflix now, instead of trying to stream them later, after your WiFi goes down? Go ahead and grab yourself a bunch of stuff to watch later by downloading it while you still have internet access. That way, you won't be using up any of your phone's data when you're sitting in your car and charging your phone while you catch up on the last season of that show you used to watch before you got bored with it and started watching that other show your spouse hates. You know the one I'm talking about.