Life with Moxie: 10 hurricane preparation tips not worth waiting on

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Just as we are beginning to notice a little less congestion on the roadways and are able to find a parking spot at the grocery store that doesn’t involve some sort of dangerous maneuver, we are being reminded of another season about to start: hurricane season.

Seems surprising that it is already here considering we still see blue-tarped homes waiting for repairs to be completed from the last unwelcomed hurricane. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.

It appears, at least preliminarily, that it is going to be an interesting one. Colorado State University released their initial seasonal forecast last week, they expect a slightly above-average season, with 14 named storms. Seven of those are expected to become hurricanes and three are expected to be major hurricanes. While above the long-term average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, this forecast is quieter than 2017, which had 17, 10 and six, respectively. Of these storms, CSU predicts a 63 percent probability of at least one major hurricane making landfall on the continental United States. This number is above the average of 52 percent.

We have two months before hurricane season technically begins. Seems like a lot of time, but if we are honest with ourselves, we remember our state-of-being when the last hurricane came, likely ending up in panic mode because we never took the time to do what we all know needs done.

With these two months ahead of us let’s look back at the lessons we learned in preparing (or not) for Irma.

  • Plywood and gas become more valuable and rare than the Hope diamond.With the gorgeous weather we are having, take the time to clean out the garage and make room for what needs to fit, and you may need access to.

    If you don’t have metal shutters, then go buy the plywood. A master set of plywood can easily be stored long-term in your garage stacked flat against the wall and secured. I’ve kept and reused the same 22 sheets, labeled for reuse, for over 15 years with no warping and they’ve been put to use several times!

    If you do have metal shutters, you may have heard last year that half the state was sold out of ¼ inch wing nuts and they couldn’t be delivered because nothing was being shipped- go buy them now.

    If you are committed to doing the garage for real, go ahead complete the collection of clean-up tools including a hand axe, chainsaw (with accompanying oil), ladder, etc.

  • Generators are very hard to come by- and they use gas.If you have attempted hurricane after hurricane to acquire one and failed, don’t worry, those that show up at the box stores when a hurricane is pending are typically very small.  Take the time now to thoughtfully select one. Decide first what you want it to run. Larger models can run air conditioning, the refrigerator, and electricity. You’ll also need several very long, three-pronged extension cords to reach into the house.

    If you have managed to buy one, know they need flushed out after use and often won’t start after sitting for extended periods- and gas goes bad. Get them serviced now so you know it will work.

  • Gas cans are difficult to come by- as is gas. If you have a generator or a car, get the gas cans. Gas does go bad, so keep them empty for now.
  • Battery-operated emergency equipment takes a lot of batteries and in all sizes. We all have batteries around the house, yet most of us have no way to test if they have any charge left. Do yourself a favor and get a battery tester like this one. I’ve had this one and used it for 12 years now. I also recommend a battery organizer like this one. Then get a few large sets of batteries, because that absolute must-have battery powered fan takes eight D batteries.
  • Flashlights rust. If you’ve kept your flashlights in the garage, there is a good chance the connectors have rusted rendering them useless. Find your flashlights and remove the batteries to look at the connections. If you need to restock…? Do it now and store them in the house. In addition to a couple of flashlights, I keep several battery operated LED lamps as they allow for a more normal use of lighting in the evenings.
  • We threw out thousands of dollars of food from the power going out. Start consciously eating your way through the freezer down to a few basics and avoid stocking up for the sake of stocking up. It is impossible to eat it all in two days. If you don’t have a real grill and have thought you might want one- now is the time. It makes eating when the power is out a lot more enjoyable.
  • Trees knock out powerlines. Trees go over faster in a storm when they are untrimmed. They also damage roofs and cars. If FPL comes by and asks to trim your trees, let them. If you have a lawn service, ask them to do a hard trim on everything- they need it to stay healthy regardless.
  • Prescriptions are hard to come by. If you can, always have an additional prescription filled of your required medicine for emergencies.
  • Homeowners insurance isn’t flood insurance. Once your area is under a hurricane watch most companies won’t issue flood insurance policies. Review your policy now and get flood insurance even if you aren’t in a flood zone.
  • A lot of hotels refuse to take pets, even in a hurricane. If you have pets, take a few minutes and research which hotel chains accept pets as a normal course of business, so if you need to evacuate you can start by calling the ones that will actually take the whole crew.

Join groups and sign up for alerts that focus exclusively on Florida hurricanes. My favorite hurricane group is the Florida Hurricane News & Information Center, they do extensive write-ups and offer far more insights than others I’ve followed. I also follow the local sheriff’s office, for Naples it’s the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and for Fort Myers is the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. These are great to connect to now, well ahead of season as they will be posting really valuable information leading up to the start of season. Social media offers a very unique opportunity to both help and get support, here is a social media guide that offers more insight.

Here is the master checklist of supplies if you are feeling inspired to get ahead of the game.

The weather is gorgeous. While we have the luxury of time, go ahead and get yourself organized. It’s spring, think of it as spring cleaning with a definitive purpose.

Have ideas you’d like to add? Need more suggestions? Let me know!

Julie Koester is CEO of Life with Moxie, a Lifestyle Revolution Company, CEO of Moxie Creed, skincare beyond chemistry. You can reach her at

Passionate Living by Design, That’s Life with Moxie

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