Hurricanes are never welcome, but we can turn inconveniences into good family memories.
It all depends on what we prepare for. Turn complaints into thankfulness and let your imagination create fun games, stories, and contests with any work that may need to be done. It’s super easy and fairly inexpensive to prepare. Get started with these helpful ideas and recipes for you and your family.
Before I share what worked for us and how we used our imaginations for solutions, this article is for recovery for minor damages and inconveniences. Category one hurricanes are fairly easy to navigate in comparison to the more “serious” hurricanes where lives, livelihood, and loss of property are at stake. What I share here is more for the inconvenience of no electricity and running water along with cleaning up the yard mess. Please remember those who may be in dire need after a storm and be willing to help if you can.
We have been through two major storms that left us with no electricity or running water for four and a half days. Yes, I was counting and yes, a half a day counts too! We have lived in Florida for forty years of marriage and this level of inconvenience has happened only twice. We are super thankful it was only inconveniences and only a relatively small loss of income. When it does happen, I’m glad that we prepared.
The Four Most Important Things to Prepare For:
The loss of electricity.
The thing we miss most is the loss of electricity. We live in a rural area that is often one of the last ones to have the electric lines and transformers repaired. Most of our hurricanes come while it’s still hot, so it’s actually the air-conditioner that we miss the most. It may be too late by the time you read this, but we bought two battery operated fans that will run for up to 24 hours per charge. I have a converter that connects to the car, but we also kind of count on relatives getting their electric back before we do, so we will charge the fans at their homes.
I know. So, why not just spend our days at relatives homes and cook there. Well, as much as I enjoy their hospitality, there’s no place like home! Besides, if I had not learned to make coffee on a grill with just a pot and a strainer, I might not be sharing this amazing post:)
I worry about the loss of food. Being an avid gardener, we need a small freezer as well as a large refrigerator and freezer in the kitchen. Most of the food in the freezer is food that I grew myself, so the sting of a loss of veggies that I put so much work into would be great. I’m going to do everything I can to keep the veggies frozen.
The loss of running water
The other thing that is missed the most is running water. We have a well with a pump that requires 230 volts of electricity in order to bring up clean water from somewhere in the depths of the earth. That’s much more than a “cheap” generator can handle, so getting a generator that would be powerful enough to draw water was just not an option. Besides, our whole electrical system would have had to be changed too. So, having fresh water is a real problem. I certainly don’t mind hauling in buckets of water from our kiddie pool to flush toilets. That’s no biggie. We also bring in a bucket of water for bathwater. However, any standing water here in Florida will have mosquito larvae in it real soon. I don’t want to bathe in that, do you?
The loss of a stove
How are you going to cook? Break out the grill! Many of us know how to grill burgers or steaks, but, what about breakfast? More importantly, most of us can skip a breakfast menu but we better have some coffee or there will be serious consequences! How do you make coffee on a grill? The kids will probably want cereal or something that required a refrigerator. Thankfully, milk kept in a modern fridge or on ice can keep for several days if you are careful. Yogurt can keep an extra day or two.
Yeah, you read that right! Boredom! Right now, go to the library. Find magazines and good books. Check your art supplies. Do you have enough pencils, crayons, and paper? Are the pencils sharp and ready to use? How about playing cards? Do you have full sets of playing cards? If your home is like mine was, there was seldom a complete set! Why not visit the puzzle section of your favorite store? I often get mine from Goodwill. I’ve never gotten one with a missing piece!
What about your outdoor toys? Balls pumped up, frisbees where they can be found? Are the dirt trucks and dirt bikes in repair? Even if the storm doesn’t come to your neighborhood, I think getting these things done will inspire your family to remember to take time away from electronics.
Let’s start with preparation:
- Do you have “air” space in your freezer? Fill freezer safe containers at least 24 hours before the potential storm landing. Put them in your freezer until there is as little air space as possible. “Blocks” of ice will do a much better job than cubed or crushed ice. Use an icepick if you need ice for drinks.
- Turn your freezer as cold as possible. Those few degrees colder will make a huge difference in how long your food will stay frozen.
- If you have “air” space in your fridge, transfer blocks of frozen iced to the fridge area and start another block of ice.
- Turn your refrigerator to 33 degrees.
- Eat your leftovers now so you won’t worry about how to preserve them.
- Make and freeze “slow cooker” meals for days two through four. Those can be thawed the day of and heated on the grill in a pot. If it ends up that you don’t need them after the storm, count it a blessing because you will have food already cooked and ready to heat up for any time.
- Scrub and fill a kiddie pool, ice chests, coolers and buckets with water. If you plan to drink from the ice chest or coolers, it’s important to sanitize them first- don’t assume it’s “clean enough”.
- Buy charcoal and lighter fluid. Check to see if your gas grill can handle charcoal. If you have a “regular” grill, you’re good to go.
- Buy game cards, sharpen pencils, gather paper for artwork. Don’t forget marshmallows and sticks for your after-dinner snack!
- Go to the library and find plenty of good reading material.
- Inventory your yard tools. Rakes and pitchforks will come in handy.
- Buy heavy-duty garbage bags for cleanup.
- Catch up on laundry if at all possible. Your laundry is going to get backed up so why not start with an empty laundry basket?
- Be sure to check outside for any lawn furniture that needs to be taken indoors or into a shed.
- Don’t forget your pets. Buy extra food and kitty litter. Even if your cat “goes” outdoors, there may be a couple of days that you will keep kitty inside.
- Plan for your grilling/cooking area. You will need your grill and a place to set hot pans on, preferably in shade. “Make do” by using old benches or wooden tables. Have towels to use as trivets if needed.
- Have plenty of mosquito repellants on hand. You may be spending time outdoors under shade trees and you may enjoy cooler temps outdoors at night.
- Buy or check flashlights. Get batteries or have a car charger that can charge them during the day.
The key to the library!
Workbooks and cheatsheets
for gardeners, cooks, and
Yes, send the key!
After the storm has passed and you have no electric and no running water:
- Don’t open the doors to the refrigerator or freezer unless you absolutely have to.
- Use as much of your perishable leftovers as possible. Be creative in your new recipes.
- Many pots and pans can be used on a grill. Place cast iron on the grids to warm them up. Then use them as you normally would but be prepared to move them off the grill if they get too hot for your recipe.
- Get recipes and techniques for things like coffee in my FREE downloadable pdf that’s in my library. Be sure to subscribe to get the password.
- By the end of the first full day, meat, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. need to be moved to the freezer compartment where it’s colder. As you use stuff from the freezer, move the more perishable items to the freezer.
- Cover the pool water with shade cloth or netting. Create a solution so that the netting does not touch the water. I.e. Use a chair in the middle, drape the cloth over the chair and pool. Secure the periphery with heavy items. This will deter mosquitos from using your pool. Might not deter clever animals.
- Set up your cooking station outside. Never in a closed garage. See notes in the “Prepare” section of this blog post.
- For cooking suggestions and recipes, you will want to subscribe so you can have the secret code to my Free library. SUBSCRIBE
- Cook only what you will eat today. Don’t try to cool it in the fridge or on ice or you will run the risk of bringing down the temp in the fridge or cooler.
- Daytime activities can be fun games with the kids, read a book, let them get wet to keep cool. (If your kids are like mine were, I would NEVER trust them to not pee in the pool that also has my bath water in it, so no swimming allowed!)
- Nighttime activities. Here’s where the flashlights are really cool to have.
You’ll want a cool list of things for kids to do with flashlights. That list is in the downloadable, printable pdf in my library for FREE under Prepare for a Hurricane. Subscribe for the secret code to the library
Second Day and so on:
- Leftovers in the fridge should be eaten or thrown out by the end of the second day. Disclaimer: eat food from your fridge at your own risk. If you followed the prepare instructions, the food should be safe, but any doubts, throw it out!
- As you continue to use food from the fridge, move perishables into the freezer space. Be careful. It’s not fun to get food poisoning.
- You’ll be getting into a routine by now, cooking breakfast over the grill, encouraging the kids to play without electronics, reading books, making crafts. And yes, cleaning the yard. They can help too!
- Nighttime activities are the same as day one, but everyone may be ready to retire early this night since the first night was most likely not very restful.
If you are careful with having done your preparation, you may notice that a chest freezer will keep food frozen until at least the fourth day. On that day, ours was still solidly frozen in the middle and only the outer edges had started to thaw. I used that food first, if the food was still at least as cold as a normal fridge temperature. At that point, the food on the edges was partially frozen.
Be sure to subscribe for FREE access to my library. The pdf named “Prepare for a Hurricane” will have a cheat sheet of things to buy, a pdf of fun things to do, and another document with Breakfast recipes and instructions for food and coffee. I will send the secret code to the library in your first email and every email thereafter. Click here for the subscribe page: HERE
Remember, don’t panic. Prepare. Stay safe. Have compassion on those who may need help after the storm and support those who are able to volunteer their time and talent. Pray for the safety of all.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. – Mat 6:33 CSB