This checklist was originally published in preparation for Hurricane Matthew in October of 2016 and is a valuable tool for those preparing to evacuate ahead of the imminently approaching Hurricane Dorian.

Okay, while I’m a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ by day, ultimately I’m a planner, period. So, for those on the East coast, particularly North Carolina, here are some of my precautions–take ‘em or leave ’em, yet above all, stay safe as Hurricane Florence approaches. Admittedly some are eye-rolling-obvious, yet better to be safe than sorry.

  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 the entire 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 smartphone flashlight on your main screen at bootup)
  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 (crisscrossed) 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 the electricity goes out
  14. If electricity is out, plan out what you’re going to get from the freezer & frig & open the door(s) 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 $300.00 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 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 smartphones 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 the freezer
  36. If you live with other people, talk amongst yourselves; another lost art

Think of this time as an adventure; you can’t change it, so prepare the best you can and stay safe. Remember, YOU are in charge of your POWER…regardless of whether you have electricity or not! Remember, We Can Do It Women!™