FORT MYERS, Florida — Fox 4 is tracking the tropics and the forecast cone shows the system, possibly a Category 3 hurricane, to hit 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 have on hand before a hurricane hits. Canned goods and non-perishable goods should last a minimum of three days and even a maximum of seven days. The same goes for water, and you should have a gallon per person.
Stores in Fort Myers are already starting to see bare shelves. A Walmart in Fort Myers ran out of water.
Keep in mind that with the canned goods, you will need to get a manual can opener as the power could go out, leaving you with no automatic can opener.
“Water, batteries. I have pretty much everything else I need,” said Tillie Russo, who began her hurricane purchases at Family Hardware in Fort Myers. “Tuna, 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 can’t find one, because some stores are already almost empty, grab some candles.
“Make sure you have the supplies you need. Be prepared it’s hot,” said Kevin Moore, who got batteries from Walmart. “That’s all, when the air conditioning goes down, reality sets in.”
Moore fled during Hurricane Irma and says he has never been home during a storm. He says he and his family are ready if anything happens.
“We’ve got the hurricane windows, the hurricane garage door. Get some water and turn on the generator and we’ll be cool,” another man told Walmart Friday.
Don’t forget your pet food, any medicines and a first aid kit. All of this can be hard to get when a storm hits.
Many others were also preparing for a possible hurricane on Friday. Costco in Fort Myers had a line wrapped around the corner, even on the street. Everyone in line was waiting for gas. Others were filling the parking lot and went in.
People also find their way to generator hardware stores. JR Atchison of Family Hardware says the Cape Coral location only had one left by Friday afternoon.
If you buy one, Atchison says you know how to use it safely. Keep it 10 to 15 feet away from your house. Never put it in your house or garage as that can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Once you’ve used it, remove any leftover gas. The gas in there can clog your carburetor, Atchison says. You have to empty it when you’re done and let it run until it dies. Don’t fill it with gas too early, though.
“It’s good to have it prepared,” Atchison said. “Put in a little to get it going, make it work, then don’t put anything more in it so you don’t have to throw so much of it away.”
Roller shutters come in handy for the outside of your house. Gregory Moore, the general manager of Hurricane Shutter Co., says you should start by checking all the bolts on your shutters.
Double check that they are not missing and that they are working properly. Most importantly, Moore says make sure you know how to use the shutter.
If you don’t have any installed, Moore says it’s too late to install them, but there is another option.
“You can go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick up plywood, but they will run out, there will be a line 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 have to have shutters or you have to have your plywood.”
It’s a little early to put up shutters at this point and you shouldn’t be doing that until we’re under a hurricane watch. Moore says you can lock them in rooms you don’t use, such as a guest bedroom or bathroom. That way you don’t spend all day doing them all at once.
A few more tips:
- Grab cash. ATMs may not work if the power goes out.
- Get an external phone charger. This way you don’t have to use your car to charge your phone if the power goes out.
- Get baby wipes. If you don’t have water, these are good to have on hand.
Most importantly, don’t panic – just be prepared.