How the Pro's Prep for Hurricane Season


The word is out - we can expect to see an above average storm season this year in Hawaiʻi and we are being encouraged to prepare. But where should you start? I admit, there's a lot of perks to having a former paramedic, Fire Chief, and Civil Defense Administrator to rely on, so I've asked my partner, Darryl Oliveira, to help co-author this article based on his years of experience working in the community. He has a lot of practical advice. My contribution to this post comes from watching my mom prepare for storm weather as a child, and watching my dad "prep" for camping. We had a lot of fun writing together, and I hope you take away a few useful tips.

10 Things You Can Do To Prepare Now

  1. Be sure you have a current hurricane policy for your home, and review the deductible amount. Don't expect government financial assistance as these programs have limitations and strict requirements. This is especially important advice for retirees who may not have a mortgage.

  2. Cut back brush and trees that could fall and damage your home, gutters, or water catchment in the event of strong winds.

  3. Get to know your neighbors, your community association, and your local public school facility as it may be used as an emergency shelter. Review emergency shelter guidelines here so that you are not caught off guard during a disaster.

  4. Begin buying non-perishable foods and supplies as they come on sale.

  5. Ensure your emergency supplies like batteries and flashlights are working. For kids, glow sticks work great. Just be sure they don't wear them around their neck when sleeping. I also prefer LED headlamps rather than traditional flashlights to keep my hands free.

  6. Familiarize yourself with resources. My favorite is HELCO's preparedness handbook that can be downloaded for free here.

  7. Sign up to receive emergency text or email notifications from the County of Hawaii Civil Defense here and County of Hawaii Police Department notifications here. These are especially helpful if you are living in an area of the island that does not have good radio coverage.

  8. Establish a communications plan. Friends and family who live off island who become concerned for your safety and well-being can quickly overload the local communication system. Having a designated point of contact who lets others know that you are safe helps keep our local system open for those who may be experiencing a true emergency.

  9. Familiarize yourself with alternative travel routes to and from your home. In a disaster, your normal travel routes may be affected by debris and downed trees.

  10. If you have pets or livestock, develop a plan for their care, evacuation, or relocation.

10 Things To Do When Civil Defense Announces a Hurricane Watch

A hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions (high surf, high winds, heavy rain, flooding, etc.) may occur within 48-hours.

  1. Fill gas tanks for cars and propane tanks for the house.

  2. Do laundry.

  3. Organize your frozen food. If power goes out, an organized freezer helps you to quickly retrieve what you want, keeping the remaining contents as cold as possible. Cook and consume your perishable food.

  4. Make your own block ice using plastic containers you have around the house. Leave room for the ice to expand. If you have purchased bottled water, put it in the freezer to serve a dual purpose.

  5. If you are taking medication, ensure you have an adequate supply.

  6. Take care of loose items around your house that could become hazardous if wind picks up.

  7. Check on your neighbors.

  8. Charge your cell phone and other communication devices.

  9. Fill clean containers with potable/drinking water. Avoid buying bottled water that just fills the earth with unnecessary plastic! Use what you have for goodness sakes!! Ideas include a washed out cooler, a clean, plastic trash bag, plastic totes, or storage containers.

  10. Try to have some cash on hand.

10 Things To Do When Civil Defense Announces a Hurricane Warning

A hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions (high surf, high winds, heavy rain, flooding, etc.) may occur within 36-hours. This is a list of things I would do closer to 12 to 24-hours prior to possible impact.

  1. Locate a safe spot in the house to wait out storm effects. This should be a room without windows (or small windows) if possible. Keep shoes and socks close by (for you and your kids) in case of broken glass.

  2. Cook rice. Add a little salt to help it stay fresh longer.

  3. Stay off the road unless you are going to a shelter. If you are going to a shelter, go early to avoid any hazardous conditions that could occur.

  4. Monitor local radio broadcasts. If you are trying to limit battery use, consider calling your local radio station to find out what time every hour they play Civil Defense messages.

  5. Shower and wash your hair. If you are like me and don't wash every day, now is a good time to WASH YOUR HAIR. And shave.

  6. Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings.

  7. Clean out your bathtub and fill it with water for sanitation. Keep a small bucket or plastic container close to fill your toilet.

  8. If power goes out, unplug all major appliances and computers to avoid damage through a power surge.

  9. Download movies and books. Have entertainment ideas ready for family members. Puzzles or coloring books are great, but one of my favorites is games with a piece of string. Remember this one?

  10. If you are using solar lights, which are a great source of lighting that doesn't use batteries and doesn't risk setting anything on fire (candles are a no-no), put your solar lights outside to charge. Bring them in before the weather gets bad.

Do's and Don't's After the Hurricane

Depending upon where you live and the severity of the impact, it may be hours to days before any help or assistance becomes available in your area. Keep in mind that roadways may be blocked or damaged, hindering response efforts.

  1. Remember the communication plan? DO - Let your point of contact know that you are OK. Facebook check in is also helpful.

  2. DO a quick assessment of your home or property for any damages.

  3. DO Take photos of any damage sustained to your home. Contact your insurance company.

  4. DON'T delay any necessary repairs.

  5. Downed utility lines should be considered charged or energized. DON'T attempt to untangle, cut, or move them. DON'T cut utility poles as this may delay the restoration of power.

  6. DON'T interfere with utility crews performing repairs.

  7. DO check on your neighbor.

  8. DON'T eat food that has been unrefrigerated and may smell or look....funny.

  9. DO continue to monitor local bulletins for additional guidance or instructions.

  10. DO participate in organized community relief and recovery efforts.

We hope you've found this article helpful - please share it with others - you might just save someone from unnecessary disaster!

Comment below with your favorite prep tips and subscribe to my blog so you don't miss the next post - it's gonna be AWESOME - Recipes For Disaster - I've compiled a list of my favorite meals that need little to no heat to create, and are pretty healthy too! Your emergency meal kit needs more than SPAM and rice!!