Hurricane Tips and Preparation

Sunday, October 9, 2016
Amazing what can be in store when a storm is coming your way.

Being prepared is key. If you are in an area that has tropical storms, this post will give you some of the important tips to follow.

From the time we moved here in 1994 until the present time, we have been through several hurricanes and seen many tornadoes, tropical storms and experienced in preparing.

Irma pounded us for more than 15 hours on 9/12/2017. Frances for 36 hours in 2004.

We experienced 20 tornado activity in Brevard county. Lots of floods, mobile homes ripped to sheds. Fish thrown from the rivers and alligators walking across the street in downtown Melbourne.

We just got our power back on and are very grateful for minimal damages. God Bless Florida and pray for all with the devastation throughout the entire state.

Prepare by adding frozen plastic water bottles and containers, condensing food in our freezer to keep cold cuts, and cheeses safe during the almost always counted-on outages is a must.

Take them off the warmest part of the refrigerator door and freezers, add them to grocery bags and stick everything in the freezer that can spoil.

Some outages have lasted more than 12 hours and others for days.

If you are lucky to have a generator, remember to get this ready with new oil and spark plugs before the storm hits!

I also had bread dough made ahead of time to use outside on the grill to make pizza in a cast iron skillet, fried dough and the old-fashioned coffee pot didn't fail me.

Perfect must-haves with no power. This was the first time we had plenty of days to prepare using the tips below.

We are all big fans of meteorologist Jim Cantore and follow him step by step.

When we see him show up in Florida, that's a telltale sure sign we are on total alert for a bad hurricane coming and we certainly do not ignore any of the advice given and take nothing lightly.

He always shows up and chases the biggest badest storms out there, we all admire his dedication and appreciate his knowledge to keep us up to date on these storms.

Anyone reading this I pray to keep us all safe and out of harm's way.

This is the house we live in before a hurricane

this is our cat looking at birds before a hurricane

Still beautiful the calm before the storm

These storms are not predictable and do not take them lightly.

Back in 2004, we got hit by Jeanne and Frances.

Both storms damaged our home with a total of around 50k in the loss. Grateful it was only material things and we were not harmed as we stayed.

The storm sounded like a freight training going through and pounding against the house for over 19 hours.

We lived out of boxes for 9 months and had nothing but a blue tarp on our house until we could find someone to put on the roof that wasn't busy!

Tough times to find people who can fix your house!

our cat Catrina before the hurricane

Prepare and Make A-List:

As we were waiting in 2016 for Hurricane Matthew to hit on October 6th and 7th, we began preparing the shutters on the doors, getting everything necessary to stay inside for a few days to include non-refrigerated foods, lots of water. Fill the bathtub, drain the pool 2 or 3 inches.

Then unplug anything that could be a possible power surge like laptops, any extra tv, and other electronics that won't work in a power outage.

We packed just in case putting all our valuables in a plastic container to include all the important paperwork needed after the storm.

Don't forget any medications and place everything in ziplock bags to prevent humidity, remember your power can be out for days.

Also, place things higher in the home wrapped in plastic that has the potential to have water damage.

Cook Things That Will Spoil Ahead of Time

This is a bit stressful, to say the least.

I like to cook when I am stressed and knew if it was coming I was losing a lot so I started to make what I could. Some of them in the photo below.

Your FREEZER:  anything that can leak tie in a grocery bag or put in a plastic container. If it melts due to a power outage you won't have a mess especially ice cream!

Don't worry about cookies, loaves of bread, or baked goods they can be refrozen if they thaw out!

Condense and Organize

If you have two refrigerators, put all the bread in one freezer, remember if it thaws, it can be refrozen.

Don't waste space in the freeze, fill it with every container you have with water to keep it frozen and cold while the power is out!

If you don't have to worry about two freezers, just make sure you have water frozen to keep the temperature cold on one shelf.

Sanibel Island palm trees before the hurricane

Just the beginning a light storm

The storm strengthened and Melbourne Florida (which is Brevard County) became the target of this huge storm.

The news continued to say it would make landfall here.

Now the valuables, packed suitcases ready to go and pets packed in pet carriers were all we took to evacuate.

House was secured. It's always a guessing game on where it lands but packing a category 4 or 5 strength, there was no way we wanted to take the chance.

This time I wasn't staying for that stressful night and praying for the best outcome for everyone in our state.

Most hotels are totally booked wherever the storm is not going, and in our case, Orlando would have been the first point to lodge but had nothing available to book and that was 4 days in advance.

Remember in storms, hotels book quickly make arrangements early you always cancel if you plan to evacuate and it's also hard to find a place to accommodate pets.

My other son Chad stayed behind and secured his home and waited it out, he has a huge interest in following storms and should have been a meteorologist himself!

He is fascinated by storms as a hobby and kept us up to date along with checked out home after the storm as he was completely untouched by damages and videotaped everything.

We Learn a Little More Each Storm

When you have a storm to this magnification, you easily go into panic mode.

If it's your first time remember animals from the wild get displaced also, don't step in high standing water without snake boots if your home is flooded, and yes we had pigmy rattlesnakes at our house after the storm.

Every time we have these storms I learn a little more about what we need more of. Batteries are never enough and flashlights.

Water is never enough because if you have a boil water alert you use it for even brushing your teeth. I had a case for each person.

The tub should be filled for sponge baths.

Cell phone portable chargers charged ahead of time. Of course, you can sit in your car and charge the battery also.

Landline phones if you have service they have to be corded

You will have no tv or internet in a power outage unless it's the satellite and stays stable. Buy a portable weather radio.

Get an extra tank of propane for your gas grill to cook on.

Power outages are very inconvenient for sure, get led candles to put in the bathrooms, closets, and other darker areas.

Fill those gas cans have at least 3 - 5-gallon pails or more everyone runs out of gas at the pumps.

Buy cheap containers at the dollar store to fill any spaces in the freezer.

Fill water in large covered containers, most likely the water will be polluted after the storm and using clean water to brush your teeth will be a must.

Save Those Water Bottles!

Cook as much food as you can ahead of time and buy ice to keep in a cooler you're going to lose it without a generator.

Don't throw out soda plastic 2-liter bottles and milk containers. Fill with water and freeze them. They will keep the freezer cold much longer and since there will be boil water issued later, you can drink the water you froze.

Buy extra pet food. Kitty litter if you have a cat.

Cakes, cookies, muffins, bagels, peanut butter, jelly, tuna, bread. Get foods that do not need refrigeration.

Get disposable plates, cups, plastic forks, and spoons.

We have a gas grill with a side burner to make coffee on it in the morning. Buy an iron cast skillet and camping coffee pot.

the start of a hurricane storm in our backyard photo

Cast Iron Pans Old Fashioned Camping Equipment

I found that keeping cast iron and camping stove cooking pans and utensils on hand, are the best during these times to cook with.

If you are lucky enough to have a side burner on your for the gas grill you can make just about anything from breakfast to dinner in them on it.

If you have a charcoal grill, it certainly will take longer but it can be done either way.

Fresh perked coffee on a side burner with the camping coffee pot comes out terrific.

cooking during a hurricane using cast iron

Sharing is Caring

Our neighbors exchanged instant coffee packets and other items and I always cook and have cookies in the freezer to share!

We have a generator on one refrigerator and were able to cook outside.

I shared all the food with neighbors who weren't so lucky to have these things and also with the rest of my family.

Purge anything in the freezer that will spoil or melt, cook and share is my message.

camping equipment for a hurricane


We got to our destination safely.

Glad to report we had minimal damages, screens ripped and frame to the screen enclosure was the worst that happened and we were grateful.

It took 3 days to get power back on and we had a boil water order.

The after-effects are hard to deal with.

Cleanup, roadblocks, no traffic lights, diversions, boil water orders, everything is closed.

Remember it can take much longer to get power back. Preparing is key.

The beachside had massive damage and this storm continued North damaging one area after another. These storms should never be taken lightly.

Prepare, be safe, and listen to direction.

Life is too precious to take chances.

some damages from a hurricane in Melbourne Florida at our home

Lucky This Time

Thankful they were wrong and it stayed offshore no one is ever certain what the outcomes will be.

Hope this helps someone out there that ever has to prepare for a storm and new to Florida or other places Hurricanes can happen.

Winds still cause some minimal damages, things happen unforeseen and debris from the neighbor's homes flew everywhere, nothing was damaged other than the screen enclosure and some of the wooden trellis.

Any questions I will be happy to answer. I have never left until this one. I will always leave the area when it's higher than category 2.

Grateful here in Melbourne Florida and very fortunate, good luck to all my readers.

One thing I personally would like to stress, local businesses with food that had outages can't possibly predict if everything didn't spoil, make sure everything is fresh before going out to eat somewhere and you trust the owners.

We have had many unfortunate situations, especially in malls that food was not at the right temperatures.

Just my own experiences.

our pool during a hurricane and part of our roof in the pool


Trim the trees ahead of time that will damage the house.

Also, remember things can fly in the pool and patio furniture should be put into the water if you have no room to store it away.

Things fly in the air, always keep anything that can be dangerous like patio umbrellas and large items.

This is the house we live in before a hurricane

Garage Door

One other thing about securing the home, your garage door is the most critical thing to secure.

One of the most important steps you can take in preparing for a windstorm is to make sure that your "building envelope" is sealed.

They have bracing kits! You must add a bracing kit to the garage!

That means tightly covering all windows and doors to prevent wind from entering.

If you can keep the wind outside, you and your possessions will be safer inside.

Garage doors are one of the most vulnerable areas to hurricane-force winds for two reasons, the relatively long span of opening that they cover and the weak materials they are built with. Many garage doors are constructed of lightweight materials to conserve weight and expense.

Reinforcing your garage door helps you protect not only your garage but also your home and contents as well.

Adding weight to a garage door in the form of reinforcement may require an adjustment to or replacement of the door’s counterbalance system.

If any air gets under it and it's not secured properly that can take down your roof, this is one area that often gets missed, its a big door that needs to be totally secured from the air.

This is the house we live in before a hurricane


Do not tape windows, it won't help shattered glass, we learned that the hard way also.

The idea was that tape could help brace windows against the effects of winds, or at the very least prevent them from shattering into a million tiny pieces.

In reality, taping does nothing to strengthen windows.

You can also check the weather channel with some great videos on these tips on youtube.

My old list from 2004 Frances then Jeanne took off our roof:

  • Charge mobile phone and buy a car charger for the phone in case the power is down.
  • Check tire pressure, fill the gas tank, and top off all liquids.
  • Back-up computer files and keep external hard-drive and/or flash-drive in a Ziploc bag. Unplug everything except tv and refrigerator you need to keep it cold as long as possible.
  • Freeze bottles of water and keep them in the freezer it will keep the food frozen longer than you still have drinking water later.
  • Photograph or video all personal property that's expensive like jewelry if you can't take it with you. video every room, closet, use a tablet or your cell phone. 
  • Take a video of even all your the food in your freezer for proof insurance will need; download to a thumb drive. Keep one copy and send another to a lawyer or family member for safekeeping.
  • Create a master list of accounts, contact names and numbers for all credit/debit cards, bank and mortgage accounts and insurance policies; also include contact information for lawyer, accountant, financial adviser, friends, and family. Download a copy to CD or flash drive to wear around your neck.
  • Keep identification on you at all times, including a small, wallet-sized card listing emergency contact numbers and insurance information and social security.
  • Secure animals in a crate with their favorite toys and a long-lasting rawhide bone before, during, and after the hurricane and always keep them on a leash. Pets should wear collars with current identification and also be micro-chipped.
  • Store a week’s supply of pet food, flea and tick, and heartworm medicine, as well as some prescription pills to relax your pets during the storm, in an air-tight container.
  • Keep prescription medicines, spare eyeglasses, wallet, credit/debit and ATM cards, checkbooks, passport, and copies of all insurance papers (homeowners, auto and medical), as well as current HUD statements, car titles, medical records, pet licenses/vaccinations and any other valuable papers, stored in a Ziploc bag. Scan copies of the above items to a thumb drive.
  • Fill all bathtubs with water to use when flushing toilets.
  • Note: You can use tap water until the storm hits. 
  • Bottled water is best for drinking if you run out of clean fresh water, be sure to purify with eight drops of bleach or water purification tablets.
  • Again you will not remember everything you own
  • VIDEOTAPE YOUR Entire HOUSE whole house for insurance.
  • I will keep reminding you. Insurance companies are not your friend!

this is a cast iron pan with a pizza ready to be cooked on the grill

Cooking on your Grill

These are so many options for outdoor cooking.

Once the hurricane subsides and you have no power, you will want to use up anything that is perishable.

I keep eggs, cooked bacon on hand for breakfast.

Bread can be grilled on a cast-iron skillet along with blueberry muffins, donuts, and that will also freshen them up a bit.

Dinner was a bit tricky, cooked meat on ice like hotdogs and camping foods are the best to make outside to prevent any bacteria from consistent temperatures forming.

I usually tend to stay away from lots of meat unless they are stone-cold from the refrigerator.

If you have frozen chicken tenders, cube them up and add any vegetable to make a stir fry.

Side burners on a gas grill are great for boiling rice, making fresh perked coffee and heating soups.

Also, I keep pizza dough, canned sauce on hand and grated cheese to make a pizza in a greased cast-iron skillet.

There is a list of several foods that aren't perishably listed below to keep on hand, these foods are ones you need to cook immediately to stay safe from food poisoning.


  • A gas grill with two or more extra tanks of fuel.
  • Have plenty of cash on hand;$1's, $5s, $10s and $20s are best.
  • In lieu of matches, purchase multi-purpose lighters.
  • Stock up on canned foods, peanut butter, dried fruit, and granola bars. Canned Oranges, raisins, snack bars, crackers, and apples dried or fresh. A hand can opener.
  • A large cooler and plenty of freezer packs. Disposable, rinse-free toothbrushes, liquid hand sanitizer, and baby wipes are also good to have on hand.
  • A watertight storage container with a snap-on lid, plenty of Ziploc bags and disposable disinfecting, surface wipes.
  • Freezers should be jam-packed with a container of frozen water with lids. To keep it cold if the power goes out and you can drink it later.
  • Tubs full of water to flush toilets.
  • Plywood or storm shutters up on all windows.
  • Ziplock bags with all important papers, insurance, birth certificates, anything important so they don't get wet.
  • Old fashioned coffee pot to use on a grill to make coffee.
  • Get ready ahead of time and plan to leave if it's mandatory to take no chances.
  • Take all valuable jewelry there will be looters.
  • Fill empty jugs with water to drink most places are out to save milk, soda and 2-liter bottles with it. Freeze it until ready to leave or place the refrigerator frozen to thaw and keep cold in an outage.
  • Shut off the gas if you have to leave and have it and lower water tank
  • Propane tanks filled for a gas grill,
  • Extra Gas cans filled extra you will get stuck in traffic sometimes for hours when trying to evacuate.
  • Generator: if you can get one make sure it works in May not when a hurricane strikes in the season!
  • Every food you can eat that is ready-made such as peanut butter, jam, bread, snacks, soda, tuna, dried meats, dried milk, coffee dry creamer, instant coffee, any drinks etc.
  • Bleach you will need this to disinfect if any sewer water gets into the home
  • Batteries for everything flashlights, electronic candles
  • Pack a suitcase with lots of clothes you won't know how long you may be gone or what you come back too
  • Pills do not forget medications
  • Pet carriers and don't forget them!
  • Full tank of GAS days before they run out with gas cans full after the storm and stations are out

the start of a hurricane storm in our backyard photo

If you leave your home:

  1. Unplug everything, TV, shut off hot water tank ( we made the mistake of leaving it on and it got hit by lightning, flooded the whole house because it's inside the washroom) all small appliances can start fires so unplug EVERYTHING! Including hot tubs, or outdoor equipment!
  2. Bring extra phone chargers for the car. Get extended battery packs for your phones.
  3. Pack everything you can that's valuable, cover things inside with plastic for roof damages.
  4. Buy things ahead of time as soon as you hear not later, things fly off the shelf and stores are packed!
  5. Shut any gas off to prevent leaks
  6. Finally to all good luck and God bless, leave a message if you have any tips for us.

our cat Catrina before the hurricane

Print this TIP SHEET OFF

Hurricane Tips and Printable List of Preparation

This is a printable list during a hurricane of things not to forget to do, print it and place it in a ziplock bag so it won't get wet and keep safe.


  • Food items to keep on hand
  • Dry cereal
  • Canned goods: fruit, vegetables, juice,
  • soups, meats, pasta, beans
  •  Nuts
  •  Peanut butter
  • Bread
  •  Crackers
  •  Granola and energy bars
  • Un-refrigerated fruit: bananas, apples, oranges
  •  Pet food
  •  Baby food and bottles
  •  Rice and pasta
  •  Pasta sauce
  • Seasoning
  •  Oats
  • Drinks, juices, water, adult beverages, powdered milk, instant coffee dry coffee creamer


How to cook Hurricane Tips and Printable List of Preparation

  1. Other Items:
  2. Rain gear
  3. Electronic Candles (Real Candles are very dangerous and can cause fires and not recommended to use them)
  4. Paper towels
  5. Plastic sheeting
  6. Rope
  7. Duct Tape
  8. Garbage bags
  9. Aluminum foil
  10. Mosquito repellent
  11. Grill
  12. Charcoal
  13. Lighter
  14. Propane gas for gas grills
  15. cast iron skillets
  16. old fashioned camping coffee pot
  17. Lighter fluid
  18. Sterno for warming dishes
  19. Cash
  20. Manual can opener
  21. Large sealable bags to store important
  22. documents
  23. At least ONE fully-charged cellular phone and an extra charge battery
  24. Strike anywhere matches
  25. Resealable sandwich bags
  26. Hand sanitizer
  27. Dish soap
  28. Paper plates and cups
  29. Plastic utensils
  30. Pet leash, collar, food bowls and carrier
  31. Store jewelry in ziplock bags and keep all valuables together
  32. Video Tape every room including closets
  33. radio with batteries
  34. Fill containers with water and freeze them to keep whatever in the freezer frozen longer
  35. If you have a generator check the spark plugs and oil get it ready
  36. cut all trees and things that can fall on the house down
  37. brace the garage doors and plywood your windows
  38. If you need to leave and evacuate:
  39. Place everything in ziplock bags for insurance, passwords should be written in a book, all important documents should be in one place in a plastic-covered container
  41. pack a suitcase in case you need changes of clothes
  42. cover furniture if you leave your home
  43. lower the water temperature in the water heater if you leave
  44. unplug everything in the house before you leave except refrigerator bring perishables with you (including outdoor equipment like hot tubs and pool pumps)
  45. Water – 1-gallon per
  46. 1 person per day.
  47. For a family of 4 for 5
  48. days, you need 20 gallons. Save water
  49. in a bathtub for basic sanitation and
  50. dishwashing, but do not drink this water.
  51. First Aid Kit – Band-Aids, bandages,
  52. antibiotic ointment, bleach and a
  53. medicine dropper so you can create water
  54. disinfectant (6 drops of bleach for every
  55. 1 gallon of water), hand sanitizer, any
  56. necessary medications, hygiene products,
  57. and baby products
  58. Flashlight – 1 flashlight per family
  59. member and the correct size of extra
  60. batteries.
  61. Tool Kit – A basic set of tools: hammer,
  62. nails, screws, screwdriver, pliers, and knife.
  63. Sanitation Products – Toilet paper, moist
  64. towelettes, and plastic garbage bags in
  65. different sizes.
  66. boil water for at least 3 to 4 days after the storm passes
  67. Put all things that can melt in plastic bags or containers in your freezer if you lose power it will prevent a huge mess!
  68. make sure you have a list of all local phone numbers ready for local services
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Hurricane, storms, Florida weather, storms in Florida
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  1. @DianePeak if you see the photo that pool was half full. After the storm it is to the top. You will risk flooding in the house and pool overflowing if you dont drain it. Also if you have patio furniture you can throw it in the pool when there is a storm so it doesn't fly through the enclosures if you have screening. We had 9 to 12 inches of rain that would have caused a flood if we didnt drain the pool. Great question thanks.

  2. Thanks for your answer. Now I understand. I live in the Midwest, and have never had to deal with hurricaines!!


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