As a homemaker, it is my responsibility to prepare our home for a storm. Over the years, I have developed a checklist of the things that need to get done, and I'd like to share a few of the things I've learned over the years.
Preparing the Home
I always have paper plates or bowls, disposable utensils, and paper towels stocked year round. We don't use them unless we need to and they come in handy if the power goes out.
I also keep a large supply of toilet paper. I learned this from my grandfather, who had a large stash of toilet paper in his attic at all times. He learned to do this after a shipping company had gone on strike years ago and supplies were not being delivered to the island he lived on. The toilet paper was still in the attic when he died.
I like to clean the house as best I can before a storm. We have a daily cleaning schedule where we clean one area of our home each day. When a storm is on its way, we move at a rapid speed to get everything done for the week. It could be a while before the house gets cleaned again, and if it's bad weather outside, everyone will be inside together for a long period of time. It is a lot more comfortable to spend time together in a clean and tidy environment.
After cleaning, I do all of the laundry. I keep doing laundry until the storm has arrived. If we lose power, we at least have an abundance of clean clothes and towels.
On the topic of cleanliness, I make sure that just before the storm is expected to hit that everyone has had a bath or a shower. After everyone is clean, I clean the bathtubs (with dish soap, not harsh chemicals) to fill with water. If the power goes out, this water can be used for flushing toilets, and in a worst case scenario, for drinking (which is why it is important to have a clean tub).
I try to stock up on things like crackers, peanut butter, canned or dried fruit, and applesauce. (If I'm really on top of things, I may already have an abundance of these items already in our pantry and can avoid the grocery store madness.) We buy bread when it is on sale and store it in the deep freezer, so I'm able to avoid the bread aisle at the store altogether. I don't buy milk if there is a chance the power will go out. It's a good idea to stock up on anything that doesn’t need to be heated up or chilled prior to eating. When the storm is ready to hit, I keep these items together on one shelf of the pantry or on the kitchen counter. That way they’re readily available to dump into a box or bin to take along if we need to evacuate.
If the storm is hitting during the hot summer months, I put our bottled water in the freezer. If the power goes out, it's great to have cold water to drink. Also in the case of evacuation, they’re great to use as “ice blocks” in a cooler to take along any perishables.
Fortunately, the power does not go out frequently where we live, so I'm able to keep a pot of soup or stew simmering on the stove. I'm planning on making a large pot of corn chowder and maybe another type of soup during the storm this week. When we get hungry, we just grab a bowl with some bread or a sandwich, and we're all set!
The far corner of our backyard is prone to water settling, so I like to mow the grass before a storm to improve the water flow. The back of our yard also slopes downward toward a storm drain located just off the property. If long grass and other debris are out of the way, it is less likely for the water to back up into the yard and possibly the house.
I check the storm drains on the road in front of our home. Our city is very good about collecting debris and clearing drains before a storm, but I know they're busy and may not make it to the neighborhood. It's good to be part of the community effort and clear the storm drain if necessary.
We currently do not have any patio furniture but at our old home we would put the chairs into the shed and the table would get flipped upside-down and the grill moved into the garage (in case we need to use it later---remember to have a full propane tank or a few bags of charcoal on hand). We don't have a trampoline, but many of our neighbors do. Some remember to turn them upside-down, and I appreciate that effort.
We keep a fairly tidy garage year round and park our vehicles in there every night, but it's most important during a storm to avoid any damage caused by hail, branches, or other flying debris.
I have the kids go around and pick up any yard toys that have been left out. They also collect the toys out of the sandbox and put them in the shed. I remove the swings from their playset as well.
Lastly, I remove the wreath from our front door and the flag from our garden.
Activities During the Storm
A trip to the library is always a good idea before a storm. There's nothing like passing the time with a good book.
We have a deck of cards and board games readily available.
I prefer to keep the television on a local news channel during the storm so that we're aware of any additional threats (tornadoes are known to form during hurricanes). Otherwise, we keep the television off.
The children will often build a blanket fort in the living room during a storm. They gather their storm supplies (teddy bears, books, and mini-lanterns) and make themselves cozy.
Storms can be exciting and even fun when the damage is not expected to be severe, but it is also very important to be prepared for the worst.
What tips do you have for preparing for a storm? I'd love to hear them!