Tropical triple threat: Preparing for Hurricanes Irma, José, and Katia

Hurricane Irma is not the only show in town. Two additional strong hurricanes, José and Katia, are expected to cause even more havoc this weekend. For those of you who are in paths of these storms, we encourage you to follow this comprehensive list that was found online detailing the necessary steps to help protect your family and possessions:

  1. Charge any device that provides light. Laptops, tablets, cameras, video cameras, and old phones. Old cell phones can still be used for dialing 911. Charge external battery backups.
  2. Wash all trash cans, big and small, and fill with water for flushing toilets. Line outdoor trash cans with trash bags, fill with water and store in the garage. Add bleach to sterilize.
  3. Fill every tub and sink with water. Cover sinks with plastic wrap to keep it from collecting dust. Fill washing machine and leave lid up to store water.
  4. Fill old empty water bottles and other containers with water and keep near sinks for washing hands.
  5. Fill every Tupperware with water and store in freezer. These will help keep food cold longer and serve as a backup water supply.
  6. Fill drinking cups with water and cover with plastic wrap. Store as many as possible in fridge. The rest you can store on the counter and use first before any water bottles are opened. Ice is impossible to find after the storm.
  7. Reserve fridge space for storing tap water and keep the sealed water bottles on the counter.
  8. Cook any meats and other perishable foods in advance. You can then freeze the cooked food. Hard boil some eggs to be eaten as snacks for the first couple of days without power.
  9. Be well hydrated before the storm hits and avoid salty foods that may dehydrate you.
  10. Wash all dirty clothes and bed sheets. Anything dirty will smell without the A/C, you may need the items, and with no A/C, you’ll be sweating a lot. You’re going to want clean sheets.
  11. Toss out any expiring food, clean cat litter boxes, empty all trash cans in the house, including bathrooms. Remove anything that will cause an odor when the A/C is off. If you don’t have a trash day pickup before the storm, find a dumpster.
  12. Bring in any yard decor, secure anything that will fly around, secure gates, bring in hoses, potted plants, etc. Bring in patio furniture and grills.
  13. Clean your environment so you have clear, easy escape routes. Even if that means temporarily moving furniture to one area.
  14. Scrub all bathrooms so you are starting with a clean odor free environment. Store water filled trash cans next to each toilet for flushing.
  15. Place everything you own that is important and necessary in a backpack or small file box that is easy to grab. Include your wallet with ID, phone, handsanitizer, snacks, etc. Get plastic sleeves for important documents.
  16. Make sure you have cash on hand.
  17. Stock up on pet food and fill up bowls of water for pets.
  18. Refill any medications. Most insurance companies allow for 2 emergency refills per year.
  19. Fill your propane tanks. You can heat soup cans, boil water, make coffee, and other stuff besides just grilling meat. Get an extra, if possible.
  20. Drop your A/C in advance and lower temperatures in your fridges.
  21. Gather all candles, flashlights, lighters, matches, batteries, and other items and keep them accessible.
  22. Clean all counters in advance. Start with a clean surface. Buy disinfectant wipes for cleaning when there is no power. Mop your floors and vacuum. If power is out for 10 days, you’ll have to live in the mess with which you started.
  23. Pick your emergency safe place such as a closet under the stairs. Store the items you’ll need in that location for the brunt of the storm. Make a hand fan for when the power is out.
  24. Shower just before the storm is scheduled to hit.
  25. Keep baby wipes next to each toilet. Don’t flush them. It’s not the time to risk clogging your toilet!
  26. Run your dishwasher, don’t risk having dirty smelly dishes and you need every container for water! Remember you’ll need clean water for brushing your teeth, washing yourself, and cleaning your hands.
  27. Put a small suitcase in your car in case you decide to evacuate. Also put at least one jug of water in your car. It will still be there if you don’t evacuate! You don’t need to store all water in the house. Remember to pack for pets as well.
  28. Check on all family members, set up emergency backup plans, and check on elderly neighbors.
  29. Remember, pets are family too. Take them with you!
  30. Before the storm, unplug all electronics. There will be power surges during and after the storm.
  31. Gas up your car and have a spare gas container for your generator or your car when you run out.
  32. Life jackets/vests and inflatable rafts might also help if you need to leave your home in the event it becomes flooded.

If you can, record a video of your house and its contents. Walk from room to room and record open cabinets, drawers and closets. This will help if you need to submit a claim later, as it will show proof of ownership and help you report anything lost or damaged.

We also recommend that you freeze a cup of water, place a coin on top after it is frozen … keep this in your freezer to help you gauge the temperature if the power goes out. If the coin stays on top, the food is staying frozen. If the coin falls into the water, the freezer thawed out and most food will likely need to be thrown away. This is very helpful if you have to leave and come back, as it may appear everything is still frozen, but if the coin is in the cup—you will know!

Finally, anything that you want to try and preserve, but you can’t take with you—place it in a plastic bin and put in your dishwasher and lock the door—this should make it water tight in case of any water intrusion into your home. Of course you should take all the important and irreplaceable items you can!

Stay safe everyone!

Richard Hale

About Richard Hale

Rich joined the Agency in the spring of 2017 as the Marketing Director. He earned a BA in English from the University at Albany, and obtained his Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
Rich is most passionate about helping people understand the important benefits of working with an independent broker such as the Merriam Agency. It is his mission to ensure clients know where they can gain access to everything they would need, should the unthinkable happen.
When he's not working, Rich enjoy's spending time with his two teenage children and their golden retriever Alfred.

Marketing Director
Schenectady, NY

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