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How to prepare your home and family for a potential tropical system

Hurricane prep
Posted at 3:57 PM, Sep 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-23 22:06:43-04

FORT MYERS, Fla.  — Fox 4 is tracking the tropics, and the forecast cone shows the system, potentially a Category 3 hurricane, hitting southwest Florida next week. While everything is still changing, you can be prepared for whatever lies ahead.

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes has a full list of supplies you should keep on hand before a hurricane hits. Canned goods and non-perishables should last you at least three days and even up to seven. The same goes for water, and you should have a gallon per person.

Stores in Fort Myers are already starting to see bare shelves. One Walmart in Fort Myers had no water left.

Keep in mind with the canned goods, you should pick up a manual can opener as the power could go out, leaving you without an automatic one.

"Water, batteries. I have pretty much everything else I need," said Tillie Russo, who started her hurricane shopping at Family Hardware in Fort Myers. "Tuna fish, canned goods. I don’t think I’ll starve."

Russo went through Hurricane Sandy in New York and says she knows how to prepare. Batteries and flashlights should also be on your list. If you cannot find any, as some stores are already running low, grab some candles.

"Make sure you got the supplies you need. Be prepared it’s hot," said Kevin Moore, who was getting some batteries at Walmart. "That’s the only thing, when the air conditioning goes out, that’s when reality sets in."

Moore fled during Hurricane Irma and says he's never been at home during a storm. He says he and his family are ready if something does hit.

"We’ve got the hurricane windows, hurricane garage door. Stock up on a little water and get the generator going and we’ll be cool," another man said at Walmart on Friday.

Don't forget your pet food, any medication you'll need, and a first-aid kit. All of this may be hard to get if a storm does hit.

Many others on Friday were also preparing for a potential hurricane. Costco in Fort Myers had a line wrapped around the corner, even spilling into the street. Everyone in line was waiting for gas. Others were filling the parking lot up and heading inside.

People are also making their way to hardware stores for generators. JR Atchison with Family Hardware says the Cape Coral location only had one left as of Friday afternoon.

If you are buying one, Atchison says know how to safely use it. Keep it 10 to 15 feet away from your home. Never put it inside your house or garage as that can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Once you use it, empty out any leftover gas after. The gas sitting in there could clog up your carburetor, Atchison says. You should empty it out when you're done and run it until it dies. However, don't fill it up with gas too early.

"It is good to have it prepared," Atchison said. "Put a little in it to get it to start, make sure it works, then don't put any more in it so you don't have to get rid of as much."

For the outside of your house, shutters are going to come in handy. Gregory Moore, the general manager at Hurricane Shutter Co. says you should start to check all the bolts on your shutters.

Double check none of them are missing and that they work properly. Most importantly, Moore says to make sure you know how to use the shutter.

If you don't have any installed, Moore says it's too late to get them installed, but there's another option.

"You can go to Lowe's or Home Depot and pick up plywood, but they’re going to run out, there’s going to be lined for that at the last minute," Moore said. "When it comes down to it, you don’t have a whole lot of other options. You need to have shutters or you need to have your plywood.”

It's a little too early at this point to put up shutters and you shouldn't until we're under a Hurricane Watch. Moore says you can start to close them on rooms you don't use, such as a guest room or a bathroom. This way, you're not spending all day doing them all at once.

A few other tips:

  • Grab cash. ATMs may not be working if the power goes out.
  • Have an external phone charger. This way you don't have to use your car to charge your phone if the power goes out.
  • Grab baby wipes. If you don't have water, these are good to keep on hand.

Most importantly, don't panic — just be prepared.