The Mama Ninja Shop

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Severe Weather Prep Series Part 2: Hurricane

Severe weather can strike anytime and anywhere. Are you really prepared?

In this 2-part series, I want to help ease your mind and prepare for the worst when severe weather hits. In part 1, I discussed tornados and ways to prepare and tips on coping before, during, and after a tornado hits.

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If you haven't read Part 1- Tornadoes, please check it out here and subscribe to get the Tornado Prep Checklist and exclusive access to all my freebies offered!

In this part 2, I want to discuss hurricanes and what you can do to prepare yourself and your family in the event of being in the projected path of these massive storms.

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Let me begin by explaining what a hurricane is and how its destruction can be catastrophic. 

A tropical cyclone with winds of 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour or greater that occurs especially in the western Atlantic, that is usually accompanied by rain, thunder, and lightning, and that sometimes moves into temperate latitudes
Definition by Merriam-Webster

Basically, a hurricane is a major storm system that seemingly has a mind of it own!

Hurricane season begins June 1st and lasts until November 30th. However, Hurricanes have been known to form outside of this timeline.

Unlike tornados, which are fast forming and relatively short lived, Hurricanes are massive slow moving systems that can last for days in your area. But this, also, means that they are tracked ahead of time and you can and should prepare before it hits.

For some great information on what a hurricane is, the differences between a tropical storm and a hurricane, and other fascinating facts, check out the NOAA Hurricane Center.

As with any serious weather event, forecasted tracks, paths, and severity are not definitive.

Hurricanes can be unpredictable and change drastically in a matter of hours! It can be very important to keep a close eye on any changes in the daily forecasts. Here in South Mississippi,  my trusted weather team belongs to WDAM TV

I live just 60 miles inland from the sandy beaches of Gulfport, MS. Anytime a tropical storm forms within the Gulf of Mexico, we start preparation just in case.

It's very important that you don't wait until the day before it hits to prepare!

I just can't stress this fact enough.

The closer the storm comes supplies will become very limited; store shelves will quickly empty; and traffic will be very congested.

In this same regard, I keep a full hurricane tote packed and tucked away in a bedroom closet.

Now is the time to pull it out, restock what's necessary, and check off the list what's needed.

Don't have a check list?
Here's mine, free to print after signing up to my newsletter with bonus "After the Storms" tips!

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Now, that you have your supply list and a tote ready to pack, let's prepare!

Start of Hurricane Season Preparedness

As I said before, the closer a Tropical Storm or Hurricane is before landfall, the more difficult it is going to be to ready your supplies.

Anything that you can do beforehand will save you money, gas, and time. And there is a lot you can do before that storm is even formed!

Check your Insurance coverage.
Is it up to date? Are you in a flood zone? Do you need renters insurance? And don't forget your vehicles, are they covered?

Now is the time to make sure you have all your ducks in a row. In South Mississippi, once a system has entered the Gulf of Mexico, it can be close to impossible to get further insurance coverage!

Check your policies and make sure copies are kept in a safe place. At this time, it is a good idea to go ahead and put your agent's name, number, and website into your phone's contacts, just in case you need them and can not easily get to your papers if a storm hits.

Purchase a fireproof and waterproof lock box.
This is an affordable option that will become a lifesaver for you if disaster strikes!

Here is an amazing one that is affordable, portable, and can be easily kept in a closet or under the bed! From my favorite store, Target, this SentrySafe Fire Safe Black Chest will hold all your important papers and keep them safe.
Contents to keep in your box will vary. But here are some suggestions based on what I keep in mine and what I wish I had after Hurricane Katrina.
  • Recent photos of kids and beloved photos.
  • A little bit of cash
  • Social Security Cards
  • Birth Certificates 
  • Insurance papers
  • Mortgage or Renters Lease
  • Bank statements
  • Emergency Credit Card
  • Vehicle Information
  • Emergency list of contacts and next of kin phone numbers
  • Pay stubs
  • Last Years Tax Return
  • Will, Funeral Policies, or Declaration of Last Wishes
Purchase or test your generator.
If you have one already great! If you dont, look into purchasing one. They can really help when losing power for days at a time. It is definitely an investment that when you have to utilize you will be thankful for.

Purchase a weather radio. These radios are readily available and can be programmed for your specific area. Remember that you may be without power and need to receive alerts when they are issued. My children have learned when the radio issues an alert to be quiet, listen, and move to our designated safe place in our home.

Create or update your Hurricane tote.
This has been a huge help to me ever since Hurricane Katrina hit our area. It was at that time I realized that I was not as prepared as I thought! 

After Hurricane Katrina, we were left without water or power for about three weeks. We were very lucky. By the grace of God, we did not lose our home and had minimal damage to it. But it was most definitely a game changer for my preparedness skills! This is the point where my Hurricane tote was first born.

I keep it in a closet stored out of the way until hurricane season arrives. A lot of the items in my tote are sustainable from year to year, such as trash bags or ziplock bags and paper goods. Other items can be added after the season starts but before a storm is upon us, such as canned food. Lastly, are items that I add when a storm is close to landfall.

Since we are discussing right now ways to prepare once hurricane season begins, I want to start with those sustainable items. Of course, these items are only suggestions, however, a lot of them, I added to the list after  experiencing Hurricane Katrina.

  • Paper plates
  • Plastic forks, spoons, and knives
  • Plastic cups
  • Paper towels
  • Manual can opener
  • Toilet paper
  • Trash bags, various sizes
  • Heavy duty yard trash bags
  • Flashlights for each family member
  • Various glow sticks (these are cheap and perfect to help kids during a power outage!)
  • Mosquito wipes or can of mosquito spray (or two!)
  • Large tub of baby wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Heavy Duty Garden gloves, a pair for each adult and older kids
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Plastic wrap
  • Ziploc bags of various sizes
  • Football, Baseball, or Bike Helmet for each child
  • Diapers, if needed
  • Extra bottles and nipples, if needed
All of these items can be purchased beforehand and just stored in the tote year round.

Create or update your first aid kit.
This is a very important step and should be kept updated and handy to use all year whenever needed. 

I have one for the house, and a smaller one kept in the car at all times. Be sure to include plastic gloves, wraps, gauze, blister pads, alcohol wipes, antibiotic cream, and of course band aids of all sizes!

After a storm has formed and landfall is predicted

This will be when the hustle begins. Do not wait until the storm has made landfall!

Remember, due to evacuations in the landfall area, there may be more people in your hometown, which can mean more traffic and more empty shelves!

Now is the time to complete your hurricane box and prepare your home.

For your box:
  • Fresh batteries for flashlights, lanterns, and radios.
  • Various canned food. Canned meat, veggies, fruit, etc. Get some canned spaghetti O's or Ravioli perfect for an easy meal that your kids will eat.
  • MREs. These are "meals ready to eat" used by the military and can be found in some specialty stores!
  • More glow sticks. Trust me these are great, especially when you want to save flashlight batteries and keep kids entertained with no power!
  • Think about extra activities for the kids...puzzles, coloring books, notebooks, pencils, puzzle books, picture books, blocks, etc. Keep in mind, they may need a fun activity to keep busy and entertained without electricity. 
For all your craft and school supply needs at incredible prices!

Extreme Bargains 

Hop over to Melissa and Doug for even more great ideas to keep your little ones entertained.

For your pantry:
  • Bread, including sandwich, hot dog buns, and hamburger buns.
  • Tortillas (great for wraps instead of sandwich bread) For some great wrap suggestions, hop on over to my post "Summer and Back to School Easy Lunch Ideas!"
  • Gallons of water. As much as possible. Fill empty 2 liters with water and keep them in freezer.
  • Bottled water
  • Formula or baby food for baby
  • Crackers
  • Large number of snack packs, such as fruit, pudding, nabs, cookies, granola bars, etc. 
  • Fresh fruit is wonderful for ready to eat snacks or for breakfast
  • Peanut butter
  • Shelf or canned milk
  • Individual Kool aid packs for those bottles of water
  • Don't forget your furry family! Make sure to have extra food, water, and supplies for your pets!

For your house:
  • Charcoal or gas for the grill. This may be the only way to cook if power is out.
  • Extra gas can filled for the car, generator, and chainsaw kept in a safe place. 
  • Fuel canisters for campfire stove if you have one. If not, here's the Coleman we use and love!  It will come in handy!
  • Lighter fluid
  • BBQ lighters
  • Extra lumber if needed to board windows
  • Tarps
  • Duct tape

Prepare your house and yard.

Here are a few suggestions on things to do that you might not think about in the days before a storm strikes.

Mow your yard.
This may seem to be unnecessary, but there are reasons. My main one being snakes! If any are hiding around your house in the tall grass, once the rain, and possibly flooding, starts they may come inside looking for refuge. I know, I found one hiding out during Hurricane Katrina in my closet! 

Another big reason to mow is simply that you have to clean the yard up beforehand. Toys and objects left in the yard can become missiles during a storm, which leads me into my next two suggestions.

Check property for broken or damaged limbs and dispose of them properly.
Winds will likely be high and loose limbs that break easily can really damage a window or car.

Tie down outside furniture.
Turn glass tabletops upside down, stack chairs on top, and secure to a tree or fence. Bring inside or store all cushions and pillows.

Check property for wasp or hornets nests.
Don't forget, the wildlife is going thru this storm along with you. After the storm they are likely to be agitated and aggressive. Take care of them before that happens.

Prepare your outside pets.
Now, we bring our pets inside, of course, during any storm. However, during Katrina our dog Rocky got out and refused to come back in! He wasn't scared, just loved playing in the leaves blowing in the wind. 

After a few hours, he did come back inside after that playful wind started to knock down trees. But we knew this might happen. So, beforehand Barry had ensured that he had a safe place to hunker down.

He had built a lean to against our shop which housed our lawn mower several months before. In anticipation of the storm, he moved Rocky's dog house under it and created two walls on the sides and a third wall on the front with a large open spot to walk in. He then lined the ground beneath with pine straw, reinforced the lean to, and made sure there was fresh water and food.

Even after the storm, that dog house and floor was dry as a bone (yes, pun intended!) We, also, recommend that you get your pet microchipped in case they wander off. At the very least, make sure he has a reflective collar with tags that include your address and number!
Make sure your grill is in working order and secured as much as possible.
This will be your main cooking source if without power. You do not want to find out after the storm that the turn knob was loose and now lost or any other minor problem that could have been taken care of beforehand!

Organize and declutter your garage.
Ensure that there is plenty of room for your vehicles and yard items that you may have to store during the storm!

Tape windows or board them up.
Depending on where you are, this may or may not be necessary. But better safe than sorry when it comes to flying glass in your home!

At the same time, be sure to check your screens. Chances are after you've lost power, you will need those screens to let in fresh air and keep those pesky mosquitos and insects out!

Grab a screen repair kit at your local hardware store or visit Target here to get exactly what you need for all your repairs and supplies!

Catch up on those loads of laundry.
It may be awhile before you can wash clothes. You need to have everything washed and put away. Do not forget towels and linens!

What to Expect During and after the Hurricane makes Landfall

It's here. What now?

If you have followed the steps above, you are as prepared as you can be! I know it can be scary. I still cringe and my heart skips a beat every time I hear the words Hurricane Warning.

The best advice I can give you is to remain calm and keep the kids occupied. They are looking to you for clues on how to react. The calmer you are, the better they will feel!

The power can fail pretty quickly at the start a storm. As a matter of fact, I remember distinctly when it happened during Hurricane Katrina. It wasn't even raining yet, just a very big breeze blowing outside. (This is when our dog, Rocky, got out and was chasing leaves in the backyard).

But it didn't take long for the weather to turn for the worst. But to be honest, it was that wind that was the most terrifying, and that snake...YIKES! 

I came face to face with that bugger while I was on the floor of my closet moving my shoes from where water was coming in along the base boards. I did my best to keep my cool so the kids wouldn't know what was going on. 

As Barry was catching the snake, I was standing on the bed screaming into a pillow. Not my bravest moment but it worked. The kids never knew what we had found!

So, as you can see, you can prepare the best you can but always expect the unexpected, especially when dealing with Mother Nature is all her glory!

One of my favorite things I had done to prepare was the night before the storm actually. I fixed up my crockpot with my amazing red beans and cooked them all night long. Remember now, I may be a Mississippi girl, but I was born in Louisiana!  Cajun runs in my blood, too!

To learn more about my roots and why my chaos is so blessed, read my Welcome Post

I had my husband cook up some simple cornbread and I fixed some rice. That morning, I added the rice to the beans straight into the crockpot. They were amazing and after the power went out, I wrapped the crockpot in a towel and they stayed warm all day long! What Mama doesn't love their crockpot, right?!

Back to storm, our cell phone service outlasted the electricity by about 3 hours. Soon, there was no service available. To keep up with the whereabouts of the storm and what was happening where, we used our portable tv which runs off batteries. This really became a life saver for us to stay connected with the rest of our community, state, and what was going on in other states due to the landfall of Hurricane Katrina. But a good AM FM radio like the adorable red Studebaker below will, also, keep you up to date!

The next day was the first day we were able to get out and determine what damage was done. Our neighborhood looked like so many others... limbs and trees down, roads impassable, shingles everywhere, power lines down. I'm going to be honest here, it was scary and looked like a war zone.

Just a reminder, please stay off the roads as long as possible!

As you can imagine, emergency crews are now working around the clock to clear roads of debris, working on downed power lines and broken gas and water lines, bringing aid and supplies in to your area, and possibly search and rescue of members of your community. Do not make their job more difficult just so you can see the damage. 

Even through all the devastation to our area, we were beyond blessed.

A tree in our front yard fell just to the side of our only vehicle but didn't damage it.

Our fence took quite a beating but our house was intact.

My Mom and Dad's pool was full of outdoor furniture, leaves, and huge limbs.

My Grandmother lost every tree on her property but not one hit her house.

My in-laws had a tree fall through their den, but they actually slept through it and were safe.

Like I said before, it can be scary. But there are so many ways to prepare your house, your property, and your family that you can have peace of mind knowing you have done all you can to be ready.

So stay strong, stay safe, and be proactive to protect you and your loved ones.

I hope my experience can help you prepare to the best of your ability and give you a little bit of that peace of mind.

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Until next time, my Loves, stay safe!

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    Hi, there! My name is Shannon Dewease and I'm so happy you found my blog. I am from beautiful South Mississippi and live here with my family. My life can get a little chaotic, comical, and down right complicated, as you will find out. I can't wait to begin sharing my misadventures with you!

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