My area is prone to hurricanes this time of year, so I wanted to share ways to save money while preparing for a hurricane. If you’re new to the area, a hurricane is a type of storm called a tropical cyclone that forms over tropical or subtropical waters such as the Caribbean. If the storm’s maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph then you have a hurricane. Tropical storms are also common and are characterized by having a maximum sustained winds of 39 mph+.
These severe thunderstorms can cause massive damage. One of the worst hurricanes in VA, that I can remember, was Hurricane Isabel in 2003. With Tropical Storm Hermine moving up the East Coast, I wanted to remind everyone of these tips to prepare for hurricanes.
How to Prepare for Hurricanes:
1. Develop a family plan: Get together as a family and talk about your emergency plan and what to do in case of a hurricane or natural disaster. Where will you meet, what is the safest location in your house, what if you need to evacuate, what should the children expect, etc. See a checklist here.
2. Prepare early: The best way to save money is to be proactive and look for necessary items year round. Pick up flashlights, batteries, bottled water, non-perishable food, candles, paper plates and cups when they are on sale. Even if you haven’t prepared beforehand, don’t wait until the day of the storm to get supplies. Not only will you probably pay more and find many items out of stock; you don’t want to be stuck in the last minute craziness in the stores. Word of a hurricane hits my area and the shelves are literally cleared within hours.
3. Have a full tank of gas: When the electricity is out, gas pumps don’t work. Fill your tank a day or two before the store hits to make sure you have enough gas in your tank for a few days without power or if an emergency evacuation is necessary. You can also fill your propane tank for the grill with gas or grab extra charcoal so you can cookout if you don’t have power after the storm.
4. Entertainment for adults and kids: While riding out the store, make sure to have activities to keep everyone busy. Get out board games, cards and books (maybe stop at the library a couple days in advance). You may not have electricity to run the tv, computer or gaming devices. Make sure to put items together, so you’re not searching the house for games with a flash light. You can also make an activity box similar to this travel activity box for kids.
5. Dollar Tree is cheap: Don’t rule out the Dollar Tree for cheap items such as flashlights and batteries, kid toys such as glow sticks and paper goods.
6. Water is key: In the event of flooding or prolonged power outage, you may not be able to use your faucets for safe water. Make sure to have plenty of bottled water on hand. You can fill up everyday household containers before the storm to avoid purchasing bottles of water at the store. Also fill up the bathtub with water beforehand to use for washing and flushing toilets. Don’t have safe water? You can boil water on a gas stove or add 1/8 tsp of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for at least 30 minutes.
7. Preserving the food: A huge expense after a hurricane is the lose of refrigerated and frozen food. If you stockpile, chances are you have a significant amount of value in your freezer. If you don’t have a generator to keep it all running, try a few of these steps to maximize the length of time your food stays fresh.
- You want food such as meat, poultry, and eggs in the refrigerator at or below 40 °F and frozen food at or below 0 °F
- Food in the refrigerator will keep appropriately 4 hours without electricity (if unopened)
- Food in the freezer section of a refrigerator will stay frozen for about a day (if unopened)
- Food in a stand-alone freezer if it is full will stay frozen for about 48 hours (if unopened)
- Food in a stand-alone freezer if it is half-full will stay frozen about 24 hours (if unopened)
- Turn the temperature down on freezers before the storm to make food as cold as possible thus making it last longer
- Consider dry ice or block ice to keep your refrigerator cold longer
- Freeze bottles of water and place throughout the freezer and place frozen bottles in the refrigerator for extra ice
- Write down the time you lost electricity so you know long food has been without power
- When in doubt, toss it
- Take a picture for insurance especially if you have a more cold food than the average person
- Find more information on keeping food safe
Personally, I consolidate the food from my refrigerator freezer into my stand-alone freezer – it gets colder & a full freezer stays cold longer. I will move a couple days of meat into my refrigerator freezer to grill for dinner after the storm. I never open my stand-alone freezer until power is back on.
8. Ensure your cellphone is charged: Before the storm hits, ensure you have fully charged your cellphone. I also like to have my portable charger on hand in case in case the power is out for an extended period.
The good news about having a stockpile, is you will likely have plenty of nonperishable food for your family. Pop Tarts for breakfast would make my kids happy 🙂
What are your tips for saving money during a hurricane?