As Hurricane Ian approaches landfall in Cuba, Florida & beyond, being prepared is not only vital, but potentially life-saving. As a Financial Coach, I recommend the following, insomuch as I coach for people to have a PLAN—whether it’s for a fast approaching hurricane or one’s finances.

Here are my tips for the former, whether you plan to evacuate or stay in your home:

1. Locate your important papers—legal, financial and personal—and pack them into your upper level of your home, or your car, if you are evacuating

2. Grab your laptop & back-up computer drives—USB sticks with pictures, client files, etc. and have them in a shoulder bag, ready to go with you, if you leave your home.

3. Relocate all expensive or emotionally valuable articles to your attic or a room with the fewest windows in the 2nd or 3rd floor, or attic, of your home.

4. Pack a small carry on of practical clothing—sweats, shorts, sneakers, underwear, tee shirts, etc.—for you and your family, in case you need to evacuate.

5. If you have hurricane shutters, put them down even if you feel the winds aren’t all that strong; gusts can accelerate more quickly than most people can react. (Renters in my FL condo left hurricane shutters up in thunderous, sideways-driving rain, since they reported, “it was interesting to watch!” The rain thankfully didn’t enter the condo, yet did seep through the slider door screw holes–no matter how caulked they were–and caused damage to my unit and each of the 4 floors below me!)

6. Keep babies/small children/pets…EVERYONE away from windows and doors, to prevent injury if the wind shatters the glass and/or wood.

7. Fill your propane tank to your gas grill now, as that may be the way you cook, if your appliances are electric and there’s an electricity outage.

8. Fill up all available glass or plastic jugs with tap water—approx. 1 gallon/person for 2-3 days + a quart for each pet/day.

9. Charge up your “back-up” batteries/chargers to your cell phones & PCs.

10. Put your lanterns, flashlights, candles and matches or cigarette lighters in 2 distinct places in your house-one on each floor, so you quickly know right where to go. (Position your smart phone flashlight on your main screen at boot up).

11. Draw out some water into gallon jugs now, or for those with bathtubs, clean your tub now and rinse it WELL to remove any chemicals in your cleaner, then make sure to double-duct tape (criss-crossed) the bottom valve drain opening–not just close it as it may leak–and then fill your tub with water. You and/or your pets MAY need to drink this, yet it’s also good for toilet flushing.

12. Keep your air conditioner on lower temps now, so your house starts out cooler, in the event you lose electricity and the temperatures overheat after the rain is finished.

13. Put newspaper or brown paper bags along the tops–over the food on each shelf–and drape down the front of each shelf in your freezer & refrigerator now–this will keep foods more insulated, possibly ‘buying’ you 1-3 days, if electricity goes out.

14. If electricity is out, plan out what you’re going to get from the freezer & frig & open the door(s) quickly & sparingly.

15. Test all flashlights & recharge all rechargeable batteries now.

16. IF you own power supplies for your computer(s) unplug your printers from those, they draw too much juice. More important to keep your computer up another few minutes.

17. Have about $500.00 cash on hand–especially singles and 5s–as if electricity is out, credit cards are useless for buying anything.

18. Fill up your car/truck with gas; it’ll take you farther if outages last several days.

19. Locate your car charger for your cell phone, and preferably one with 2 or 3 USB slots, so you can charge 2 items at a time. Having a full tank of gas will ensure you can sit in your car & charge your phones, family members’ or neighbors’ phones.

20. If you own a car ‘power transformer’, locate it and have it at the ready. This plugs into your vehicle’s cig lighter and offers you a regular electric plug; handy!

21. Make coffee now and put it in thermos…nothing like hot or even warm coffee at times like these. Well, wine & spirits work well too, yet they require no prep.

22. Board up your windows and glass door panels with plywood for maximum safety.

23. Draw your blinds/drapes closed as they insulate well and IF your window/door glass is shattered, this will contain the glass shards from going deeper into the rooms.

24. Pull out a tablet and pen–electricity outages have a strange way of putting us back in touch with the fine art of journaling, list making, and whatever else.

25. Locate board games that the whole family can play together, even with dim, lantern light, if necessary.

26. Bake chicken, salmon, pizza or any food that’s also good cold.

27. Boil eggs for excellent protein at any time of day.

28. Locate or buy a jar of peanut butter—excellent whole food.

29. Cut up cheese and vegetables for snacks, and bake some cookies or brownies.

30. Locate pet food & treats now & have them accessible; pets get anxious too, so never too many treats for them.

31. Take a shower and wash your hair while you can.

32. Do a load of laundry of essential clothes for the next week.

33. Refrain from downloading large files or watching videos on your smart phones as that sucks up too much battery; reserve your phone for calls.

34. Locate lots of chewing gum, these are stressful times & gum will alleviate the near-insatiable urge to eat something.

35. Freeze some extra ice cubes now & place in gallon zip lock bags directly inside freezer.

36. If you live with other people, talk amongst yourselves; another lost art.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST! Take these pics: a) Panoramic, if you have that on your smart phone, and/or still shots of each wall and corner of each room to show contents. b) Close up pictures of any particularly expensive finishes, gingerbread trim, etc. that would be necessary to prove on an insurance claim. c) Pictures of each rooms’ closets, showing general amount of clothes & shoes. d) Attic contents, if you have an attice. e) Basement contents, if you have a basement. f) Close up pictures of old books/furniture/antiques. g) Pictures of power tools hanging in garage, sitting on garage floor, attempt to hang from rafters whatever is plausible. h) Pictures of Area Rugs (roll up and put in top floor of house or in garage rafters if possible). And anything else you could imagine may provide your insurance company proof of your belongings and home/garage furnishings.

Think of this time as an adventure; you can’t change it, so prepare the best you can and stay safe. My prayers are with each of you!! 🙏🏼🙏🏾🙏🏽❤️Remember, YOU are in charge of your POWER…regardless of whether you have electricity or not!(Photo credit: Brett Jordan-Unsplash)

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