Hurricane Michael is bearing down on the Florida Panhandle, and experts say it’s set to be the strongest storm to hit the U.S. mainland in a year.
“This is a particularly dangerous storm, worse than anything the Florida Panhandle has ever seen,” Matt Rogers, of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Residents should be following the directions of their emergency management organizations to stay safe.”
Survivors of previous hurricanes are using social media to post their own tips for staying safe in the storm, with the aim of helping people in Michael’s wake. But experts say that while some are legit, others may be a waste of your time. Here are some of the most solid suggestions:
If you lose power, phone service, or Wi-Fi, update your voicemail greeting to let people know you’re OK.
Even if you don’t have service, you can still update your greeting, says @themayacody. “Just update ur voicemail message greeting 2 notify family and friends of how u are and keep them updated,” she wrote on Twitter. You can update this several times and change the date each time.
Bring indoors anything that can become a projectile.
Patio furniture and planters can easily become airborne in the strong winds that come with hurricanes. “Bring anything that could fly and go through windows or doors inside and have food and drink supplies for about a week,” Gary Dassatti wrote on Twitter. That jibes with advice from Jack E. Nicholson, director of the Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center at Florida State University, who tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “Using good judgment is always what would be called for.”
If they tell you to evacuate-then do it, but if your not in a flood zone and not in imminent danger, make sure to take all other precautions!! Bring anything that could fly and go through windows or doors inside and have food and drink supplies for about a week! 🙏🙏
— Gary Dassatti (@GaryDassatti) October 9, 2018
Stock up on food as early as possible.
Water and canned food are especially important, Enocha Edenfield wrote on Twitter. And if you lose power and use fire to heat up food, make sure to do it outdoors, Nicholson says, adding, “Fire can not only burn down houses, but the vapors can be toxic and kill people.” Just be aware of any downed power lines or wires in your area. “If electricity were to come back on, what looks like a dead wire may become a live wire,” he says.
Buy a weather radio, stock up on water and canned food, and have a plan for your pets.
— Enocha Edenfield (@EnochaEdenfield) October 10, 2018
Invest in a generator.
This is to cover yourself in case you lose power and remain without it after the storm ends. “Sometimes the worst thing isn’t the storm but rather being without power for days,” Betsy Bozich wrote on Twitter.
Invest in a generator …. just in case. Sometimes the worst thing isn’t the storm but rather being without power for days
— BPBozich🌊 (@betsy_bozich) October 10, 2018
Photograph every room from every angle, including the contents of every drawer and cabinet.
This is for insurance purposes, to help you claim and verify what may become damaged in the storm — and it’s a great idea, says Nicholson. “The more pictures, the better, in my opinion. I did that before the last hurricane to come through Tallahassee,” he shares.
Download the Zello app Walkie Talkie.
This free smartphone app is designed to help you use your phone as a walkie-talkie or two-way radio. Here’s the thing: You need to have a Wi-Fi or Internet connection to use it. People have downloaded it before a hurricane struck, but again, if your Wi-Fi goes out, it’s not going to be helpful at all.
Empty your dishwasher and put valuables in there.
The argument here is that your dishwasher is waterproof and (most probably) attached to a cabinet, making it more likely to survive a storm. But Nicholson calls this tip “a stretch.” Instead, you may be better off putting valuables in a lockbox, away from windows, on the second floor of your home, if you have one.
Shut every door in your house to minimize pressure.
Well, you might want to shut the doors in your house, but it has more to do with saving your roof, Rogers says. “The pressure fields in a hurricane are large enough that you won’t see meaningful pressure differences across a house,” he explains. But that’s provided your home is intact. That said, hurricane winds that may enter your home through an open or broken window can create an upward pressure on your roof, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. Closing inside doors can help compartmentalize the pressure, lessening the stress on your roof. “Go ahead and shut the doors,” Rogers says.
Put a quarter on top of a frozen cup of water in your freezer.
This is a tip from Sheila Russell, who shared it two years ago on Facebook, but it’s now going viral. “You put a cup of water in your freezer. Freeze it solid, and then put a quarter on top of it and leave it in your freezer. That way when you come back after you’ve been evacuated, you can tell if your food went completely bad and just refroze or if it stayed frozen while you were gone,” she explains in the post. “If the quarter has fallen to the bottom of the cup, that means all the food defrosted and you should throw it out. But if the quarter is either on the top or in the middle of the cup then your food may still be OK.” Still, while this is a cool trick, “I’m not sure how necessary using a quarter in the freezer would be,” Nicholson says. Instead, you can simply look at the ice in your freezer to see if it melted and refroze together.
If you’re not sure what you need to have in the event of a hurricane, check the National Weather Service’s hurricane preparedness advice.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Saving pets after Hurricane Florence
- Kind stranger leaves note and gift on Hurricane Florence evacuee’s car: ‘Florida is praying for you and your state’
- Hurricane Florence updates: 23 dead, including 17 dead in North Carolina