Hurricane Matthew will be here in some time, knocking on the door. That viral satellite image of the spinning storm that appears to look like a skull with an evil smile is stuck in my head. I am scared. It’s been raining for days in Jacksonville. Severe weather alerts and warnings have been issued on cellphones, television and radio so that people do not miss important messages. And while I wait for this storm to pass, I thought of jotting down a few things I learnt from my experience preparing for it.

A) Prepare the Hurricane Kit with essentials: Shop before it’s too late

Make sure you shop for these a few days in advance because there is usually a last-minute rush at stores and even the big shops run out of essentials. We went last-minute shopping because it was unavoidable and went from closed shops to ones that had run out of essentials including torches, propane, packaged water. Walmart closed early, Costco and Publix had run out of water, Home Depot had run out of torches and propane.

Water was being sold on the street for a steep price. Those who had no choice had to buy what was available. (Increasing the price of essentials is illegal)

Here’s the list of must-haves

  1. A battery-operated torch
  2. Batteries
  3. Battery-powered radio for news and updates.
  4. Propane / wood chips / charcoal for outdoor grilling
  5. Matchsticks / Lighter
  6. Packaged water / Drinking water – If you are okay with drinking tap water ensure you have containers, bottles, jars to fill and fill them in advance.
  7. Water for washing and cleaning – You can fill water in buckets or use the bathtub and washing machine. If you are using the bathtub, ensure you have a tub drain stopper in place.
  8. Packaged, ready-to-eat food/snacks. This includes granola bars, nuts, fruits, canned food (you will need a can-opener too), chips and biscuits, bread, pizza and baked food. Milk powder is a good alternative for milk.
  9. Vitamins and other medication.
  10. First aid kit: Bandages, antiseptic cream
  11. Sanitation wipes and sanitizer
  12. Tissue paper
  13. Ice bags to ensure frozen food doesn’t get bad fast. An alternative is what my friend on Twitter, Kirk Kittell suggested. Filling milk jugs with water and freezing them https://www.flickr.com/photos/kittell/3242517725

B) Secure all objects in the patio: Pots, furniture, outdoor grill should be moved indoors. They can be blown with heavy gusts of wind and cause damage.

C) Follow important news updates: You can do that by following mainstream media and verified sources on social media.

Officials: Governor Rick Scott (FLGovScott), Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry (lennycurry).

Government agencies, police, essential service providers: Jacksonville Sheriff’s office @JSOPIO, The City of Jax @cityofjax, Jax Airport @jaxairport, Jacksonville Electric Authority @NewsfromJEA (to send and receive updates about water and electricity outages).

Local Jacksonville news agencies on Twitter: @jaxdotcom, @news4jax, @ActionNewsJax @WOKVNews @metroj @FCN2go

D) Evacuate if you need to

E) Avoid loitering around

F) Volunteer to foster an animal:
Find out details about animal adoption and rescue agencies that need help with hosting animals. In Jax, animal shelter, The Jacksonville Humane Society had volunteers fostering all their animals. Isn’t that amazing?

G) Share important helpline numbers


F) Digitize important documents:
Digitize and create an online, password-protected copy of important documents and IDs.

G) Sit in a room, away from a glass window


H) Keep close friends and family updated

I) Do not touch downed power lines: Do not even drive or walk over them.

J) Enable emergency messages on your smartphone

 

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Cell phone hurricane emergency alerts that I received on my phone.

 

K) Refuel your vehicle.

L) Do not operate a generator indoors. People suffered carbon monoxide poisoning cause they did that. So operating generators in the garage, or carport is also an absolute NO-NO.

M) Keep sandbags handy: They are an inexpensive way to keep floodwaters out.

N) Keep your phone and mobile charger charged: You might suffer a power outage and have to be ready.

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