Plywood Hints for Boarding Up Your Windows From Acknowledged Hurricane Experts

*Newer 2012 post here*
ths UPDATE: Welcome INSTAPUNDIT readers and much thanks to Glen! Since Bingley is in New Jersey, and, as major dad and I are veterans of major Hurricanes Bertha, Fran, Ivan and Dennis (along with others less significant in damage for us, but worth preparing for), I thought I would offer up what’s worked for us in terms of preparation, both food-wise, house-wise and some of the things folks don’t know about, that make life bearable if those winds of almost-September come early. I hope you’ll find something that you didn’t know before. First up is the heavy lifting.

UPDATE: Shopping list suggestions for tonight/assoonasyoufreakincan is up underneath the board pictures. Next up is how to get inside ready.

UPDATE REDUX: And our “WHAT TO DO INSIDE” is posted at the bottom of it all, so now we have our experience covered completely, soup to nuts: food/supply shopping, to board up, to getting the inside of the house set. Make lists. Don’t trust yourself to remember everything you need and/or want to do. Write it all down. I do, every time. I hope the ‘all in one place’ format is proving helpful and PLEASE don’t hesitate to comment or email questions if you have any at all. thsister-at-gmail-dot-com

Full disclosure. For Bertha and Fran in NC (Cat 2 and 3, 56 days apart in ’96), we only lived 10 miles inland, were on the eastern side of the storm both times (translation: got beat all to hell), never boarded up and did just fine. The most important thing we did, and have always done, is CLEAR THE AREA OF POTENTIAL FLYING OBJECTS. Anything and everything in our yard AND the neighborhood that could be turned into a missile (including that 100lb garden pot you don’t think can fly…it can), goes into the garage. Bertha came in during the daytime and, along around noon, we got to watch the neighbor’s metal shed explode and fly through our backyard at about 110 mph. That was the only thing we couldn’t control that day that went walkabout, and it would have killed someone if the wind hadn’t been parallel to the house.

If you want to board up, this is how we did it (In Pensacola, ’04 for Hurricane Ivan). (Now, there are great Plylox Hurricane Clips available, which will save you step #2, if you can find them. Be prepared ~ they’re a bitch to get them on the house, but they’re simple and great*.) They were all sold out when we hit Lowe’s, pre-Ivan.

Be prepared ~ NONE of this is cheap. BUT. The peace of mind is ENORMOUS. Plus, you’re so pooped from the effort, not to mention standing in line for supplies, that you sleep soundly. Measure and KNOW WHAT YOU NEED BEFORE YOU GET THERE. Be ready to make quick adjustments for what’s left on the shelves.

1) Don’t screw with anything less than 1/2 inch plywood, REAL plywood. (That’s assuming there’s any left when you get to Home Depot. We used 3/4″.) Cut to fit flush INSIDE the windowframe. (We used two pieces here. Shaved the edge off a 5′ by 8′ full sheet and then a smaller piece to cover completely to the top of the window, hence, if you squint, you’ll notice a seam in the plywood about 3/4 of the way up.)

2) What’s going to hold those boards in place are 1 x 4’s on either side, snugged up tight against the plywood, cut to the height of the window, drilled into the frame from the side and held in with hex top TapCon screws, because of the masonry. I think we had a max of 5 screws per side.

I’ll have another post shortly on supplies and preparations:

(That’s dogfood double-wrapped in the plastic bags and Miller Light for the Squid Terrorist to keep the generator running…)

* Handy Tip: The Squid Terrorist actually drilled through his clips and screwed them to the plywood sheets before attempting to pop them into the windows. Saves a ton of frustration.

Alright, shopping time.

IMHO and hard won experience, these are stores every single household should have (and you may already have much of it). Use your brain, based on the number and age of folks in your household.
Remember you are going to be HOT, cranky and exerting yourself in the aftermath if, GOD FORBID, the thing smacks you good.
Think of preparing for this as a picnic on crack. Take a good hard look at what you already have on your shelves first, add or subtract according to what you have onhand vs your particular needs/family’s tastes and then…

A Few Days PRIOR:

3 gallons BOTTLED water per person (for 3 days) minimum
enough prescription medication to get you through 10 DAYS if you take any
canned tuna/chicken/SPAM/shelf stable meats
those damned nasty vienna snausages
canned chili
beenie weenies
canned soups like “chunky” that don’t need water added
bread (Get the one with the FURTHEST OUT SHELF DATE)
canned vegetables, like green beans or baby peas
kraft macaroni and cheese in a box
dry cereal
instant oatmeal
squeezy cheese
large jar(s) peanut butter
large jar(s) jelly
various boxes of crackers
instant coffee or tea
coffemate, dry milk or shelf stable milk
sugar, salt, pepper
juice boxes
instant potatoes (like a BIG box of “Potato Buds”)
whatever fresh fruit your family enjoys
butter or (gulp) margarine
dogfood/catfood if you have furry family members besides, well…
snacks and chips
canned or plastic jarred fruits, like cocktail or peaches
pudding cups
dish detergent
antiseptic hand soap
paper towels
paper napkins
plastic utensils (forks, knives,spoons)
paper plates
plastic trash bags
ZIPLOCK baggies, QT and GAL
DUCK tape
boxes of wooden matches
large candles (and not really stinky ones) As leelu notes in the comments:WITH a GAS LEAK, CANDLES CAN BE BAD. **SITUATIONAL AWARENESS** KNOW what’s going on.
bug spray, both yard and personal
A BATTERY OPERATED RADIO (that voice in the dark from the local TV station will be your BEST FRIEND, trust me.)
LARGE BATTERY OPERATED LIGHTS that will sit independently (hard to go to a dark bathroom holding a flashlight)
small flashlights
LED poplights are great
FILL YOUR PROPANE CANNISTER NOW (if you are on a direct gas hook-up, get a charcoal grill)
3 bags of charcoal
lighter fluid for the charcoal
CAR CHARGER for cell phones (ours were worthless during Ivan but I’ve heard they’ve come a long way, tower-wise…)
COOLERS for the ice (and the stuff that’ll come out of that fridge)
FIRST AID KIT which I bolster with additional Ace bandages, BandAids of every size and description, sterile wraps, tapes, Neosporin, hydrocortizone, anti-histimine pills, aspirin etc.
Little Coleman tanks if you have camping stoves or lights (as always, to be used OUTSIDE AFTERWARDS…DUH)
Old fashioned board games, playing cards, Mille Bornes, Yahtzee, books (especially with wired little ones)

Hold off on ice until the latest you possibly can, which is why it’s NOT on the “go after work TONIGHT” list. TOP YOUR GAS TANKS off while you can, too, as Bingley points out. You all will have to fight a ton more people at the pump than we ever did down here.

*DIRECT plug-in phone like a Princess type, if you have a PHONE COMPANY landline. Your multiple remote handset phone will not work when the power goes out, and your old fashioned one may very well get a call out on the substation batteries. See below.


Bingley just rang a bell: when you’re ready to close the house up,
LOCK YOUR GARAGE DOORS DOWN. If you don’t park in your garage, PULL YOUR CARS SNUG UP TO THE DOORS. They provide the most excellent wind baffle you can imagine and, considering the further up the East Coast you go, the less the doors are reinforced like ours here in the Panhandle, you will NEED every little bit of wind mitigation you can muster. You car insurance will take car of whatever Irene does to the vehicle.

This is doubly important because, contrary to the old wives tale about “equalizing pressure’, if those winds get into your garage, not only do they start tearing the garage to bits, they start LIFTING YOUR ROOF OFF. And then your whole house is a goner. The only house in our neighborhood to have the roof blown to bits during the 140mph+ gusts of Ivan was the ONE home where the owner had the garage door “cracked” opened to “relieve the pressure”.
*What to Do Inside*

Get Your Important “Stuff” Together

Your papers, diplomas, etc. All those things that make your life identifiable? Those things your would rush out of a burning building with? If they’re not already in one place together, get them together NOW. And add one more thing ~ a copy of a utility bill, like electric or phone. If, God forbid, you have to evacuate and they work it like they do down here, that address on your drivers license WILL NOT BE SUFFICIENT PROOF OF YOUR RESIDENCY. You HAVE to have a utility bill with THAT address and YOUR name in your possession to return to your home. Period. (Great evacuation tips here in the comments.)
Have a “plan”. WHO are you going to call when it’s over, WHO knows where all your stuff is if, God forbid, something happens. If you get separated, have a meet-up. In our family, it’s Bingster and me tag-teaming. He has all our info for both sides of the family (including Kcruella). When the batteries on the landline substations were still working the morning after Ivan, I got a call out to him, and that’s how everyone else knew we were okay. AT&T screwed the pooch cell-phone-wise here, so we have KEPT our landline, in spite of everything. Trauma dies hard.

What to Do With Important “Stuff”

You all will laugh, but I double plastic bag it, duct tape it…and put it in the dishwasher, then latch the thing shut and tape over the entire front control panel. It’s waterproof and even if one of those spin-up tornados takes a chunk of the roof, the documents of my life are going nowhere, because they’re bolted under the counter and DRY. Other middlin’ precious things I double bag up as well and stash in a rack-free self-cleaning oven and the dryer (duct-taping the door of that shut).

Potable Water

Make sure every single water toting vessel is clean and filled with filtered (if you can) water, from the sun-tea jar to the ancient Igloo softball cooler to tea kettle, and all the pitchers in between. This augments the bottled water on your list and is the FIRST water you use. (Make sure it’s COVERED to keep out bugs/dust.) As well, EVERY POT is filled to the brim with tap water for use as either coffee/tea/mac ‘n cheese makings or wash/rinse water, as well as pet drinking water. All that’s staged on the kitchen counters.

Get ALL Your Laundry Done

You can run out of underwear FAST and blow through some serious t-shirts clearing flotsom. Plus, the second the last load is out of the washer, fill it up on it’s largest setting with cold water and STOP it. VoilΓ . Another source of water for rinse/washing. (The washing machine also makes an EXCELLENT ice cooler if you are space challenged, trust me. Fill it with THAT instead.)


Scrub EVERY tub SPARKLING With a bleach based cleaner. We use a piece of saran wrap over the stopper, then plug it to make absolutely sure there’s NO leakage, then FILL THAT SUCKER UP. This becomes both relatively clean water to dip out for a sink sponge bath AND the ALL IMPORTANT FLUSH THE TOILET water. (And is ONLY used for…well, not tinkling.) Speaking of which, it doesn’t hurt to have a “Tidy Bowl” beforehand, if there’s a chance the power might be out for DAYS, if you get my drift…
Now, you may get lucky and have a trickle of water like we did after Fran, but the water company may beg you not to use it, because they’re trying to find leaks, or it’s not potable or whatever. (Another reason to HAVE A REAL RADIO: PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE)

GIVE YOUR PETS AMPLE OPPORTUNITIES TO “DO THEIR BUSINESS”. Once the front door shuts on the howling outside, it’s shut for GOOD. If it comes in during the day, we make meals a tad lighter and earlier than usual. The Scotties and Labradors have always seemed to know something big was on the way and their systems have responded accordingly, but, let’s face it: when you gotta go, you gotta go. So don’t force the poor things into that position in the first place. Plenty of available water, but schmaybe that big dinner isn’t necessary/breakfast, okay?

LOCAL RADIO STATIONS (as well as simulcasts from local TV channels or your local university Public Radio) WILL BE YOUR BEST SOURCE OF WEATHER INFO for your area, not to mention what’s happening as the storm whirls overhead. John Ed Thompson out of Fox10, Mobile, AL is a GOD in our household for what he did during Ivan. At 3 in the morning, when ~ to quote the Squid Terrorist on the walkie talkie from next door ~ it “Sounds like the Devil’s trying to beat my front door down! I’m fixin’ to nail 2×4’s over it and, if that doesn’t work, I’m breaking apart the china cabinet to use IT!

Creature Comforts

While you’re busy as a bee, I always, ALWAYS recommend setting the thermostat on your A/C (while you have it) as LOW AS YOU CAN POSSIBLY STAND IT.

As in MEATLOCKER. Wearing SWEATS IN AUGUST cold. “But, ths, why?” you ask.

Because the second that power goes out and ALL those anxious people are still in your house in August breathing?

That temp is going to climb and F.A.S.T. And it will suck so bad.

And you will still have HOURS of storm to go, and schmaybe days without power. You’ll thank me.

The Refrigerator

We were sort of old school with this. As I told Bingley in the comments, this is what we’ve always done, and ONLY works with a mostly FULL FREEZER. Once we’ve gotten ice ~ usually three to four of the big coolers worth, then three stacked on each other, on a beach towel, covered with garbage bags, then blankets for insulation ~ we already have inventoried the fridge itself. When the power starts going dodgey, we’ll transfer all the perishables out of the fridge to the lone ice chest (milk, BACON, eggs, half & half, etc.) and shut the door FOR GOOD. That’s IT. No peeking, no forgetting, no going in for something ~ you want the fridge to cool completely back down. When the power finally gives up the ghost, we throw unopened, big plastic garbage bags over the whole fridge, then cover that with packing blankets or whatever you have. Wrap some duct tape around it and keep your paws off. Believe or not, that will keep all but the flimsiest frozen goods rock solid for at least three days. If you don’t have power by then, you can start defrosting stuff and eating it. *NEVER eat anything that’s partially thawed. Throw it out. (*CHECK FOR THIS THE SECOND THE POWER COMES BACK ON as well, or it’ll refreeze and you could easily get sick from it later, and be clueless why. Don’t take the chance.)

With your ice chests, just break them out as you need them, always keeping the extras covered. We had ice for a week and a half after Ivan doing it this way, and thank goodness. (The stack worked out great against the door when the winds were threatening to blow it in. Dual purpose! And good times…)

There is NOTHING like the comfort of knowing you did everything you could possibly do to prepare. It’s out of your hands from that point forward.

Have a cocktail.

It’s amazing how many knuckleheads who evacuated and watched the whole damn thing on TV came home empty handed, small children in tow no less! We were living like refugees and had to give THEM supplies.


Trees will still be falling. On your gourd.


No electricity TO RUN GAS STATION PUMPS. No electricity TO RUN STOP LIGHTS. LIVE ELECTRICAL WIRES LAYING EVERYWHERE Flat tires upon multiple flat tires.


Whip you up some coffee, scrambled eggs and lovely applewood smoked bacon sammiches on the Weber gas grill, like we’ve done the morning after EVERY hurricane.

It’s a good thing.

79 Responses to “Plywood Hints for Boarding Up Your Windows From Acknowledged Hurricane Experts”

  1. Mr. Bingley says:


    This Little Pig don’t have no steenkeen masonry.

    I do have a bunch of 75-100′ trees near the house, if that helps any.

  2. tree hugging sister says:

    Woodscrews, then, knucklehead.

    And YOU’RE the college-educated one.

  3. aelfheld says:

    When I was but a wee lad, my parents prepared for hurricanes in New Orleans by taping the windows, as did the neighbours (we used the J&J wide adhesive tape).

    We also had a gas stove and gas oven, so we ended up with the only working kitchen on the block.

    Pro-tip: dry ice does not work in martinis.

  4. major dad says:

    Never tape the windows! It does nothing but be a pain in the ass to remove. Bing, does no one have a circular saw around you? That’s all you need to cut the plywood. A tape measure helps too.

  5. kudos says:

    Looks great, but I would replace the 1x4s with something better. I do a little amateur light construction here and there, and have had uniformly bad results from the 1x4s available at the Big Box store. Splits, rotting, etc. Absolute crap. Even 2x4s from the same aisle will be several times better.

    If I were to build reusable storm covers like yours, I’d hit ’em with paint so they’d last longer. Painting plywood is not easy, but good plywood is so expensive now its worth protecting.

  6. kudos says:

    Concerning sawing plywood;

    If your opening is adequately square (meaning all four interior corners are close to 90 degrees), the guys/gals at the Big Box store can make your cuts cheaply and very accurately using their big panel saw. Makes transport home that much easier, too.

  7. tree hugging sister says:

    Thanks, kudos. Unfortunately, time was a factor intially, as it will be for folks on the East Coast. These went up 3 days before Ivan in ’04 ~ the shelves were STRIPPED (Lines were over an hour long and nobody was doing any cutting for anyone. I’d say “frantic” was the word of the day there. Thank God I only needed a couple more TapCons and 1x4s for my dad’s house) ~ and these pictures were taken after Dennis in ’05! Those cost of the 3/4 was $38 a sheet then, can’t imagine what it is now (yikes) and the 1×4’s were plentiful at Lowe’s (as was the 3/4’s because it was EXPENSIVE). But it held up AND, most importantly, before anything came off the house, we took a SHARPIE and marked what position on WHAT window each and every board came from. Stored them flat, so they wouldn’t warp. (Space is a concern) Bang! They all went right up again the next year…dammit.

    We have aluminum now.

  8. kudos says:

    Concerning Tapcons; I have some experience with those suckers. Some recommendations:

    1- drill a pilot hole if humanly possible, using a masonry drill bit (especially in concrete block).

    2- get the Tapcons with a hex head, rather than Phillips head. Tapcons require a TON of torque to drive in, at least in concrete block. Phillips heads will strip out all too frequently.

    3- when driving Tapcons, use the biggest, heaviest drill/driver you can lay your hands on. This is one of those situations where nothing succeeds like success.

  9. tree hugging sister says:

    Bingo, kudos. Exactly what we did. πŸ™‚

    Had to redrill a few holes a couple years later, as our mortar job is crumbly. Went into the brick.

  10. kudos says:

    Right, its always much easier to make preps a month or two in advance. I am hoping your readers will benefit from my comments the next time around.

    Very smart to label each panel.

    I’m currently renting now, but in the future if/when I build reusable panels, I will look into some method of having permanent attachment points. Maybe stainless steel hanger bolts, covered with acorn nuts for appearance until needed.

  11. tree hugging sister says:

    YOUR expert advice is VERY much welcome and appreciated, my friend.

    If I get a chance after finishing this post, I’ll get pictures of what we have now. SO space efficient, light as a feather, not to mention about 20 minutes for the whole thing to go up using wing nuts for the panels.

    Very chichi. I LURVES it.

  12. Mr. Bingley says:



  13. Ave says:

    Yowza! But think you should stock up on box wine anyway.

  14. Mr. Bingley says:

    I’m thinking of going out Saturday and getting lots of ice and putting it in various coolers with food from the freezer. If we don’t lose power, I’m out $15. If we do, I’ll have lots of edible food in useable parcels to eat before it goes bad.

  15. Mr. Bingley says:

    And Sis you also want to charge up all your phones, etc., and f top off your gas tanks in the cars.

  16. major dad says:

    Actually Bing hardline telephone service usually stays operatable while cell phones do not but charge them up anyway and have a charging unit you can plug into the car.

  17. tree hugging sister says:

    Here’s a little tip about that, since you beat me to it (But I’ll repeat it above). During Bertha, when the power started going dodgey, we’d taken everything out of the fridge that could spoil and that we’d need anyway (milk, BACON, eggs, mayo, etc.). The freezer compartment was jamPACKED and the fridge had had time to cool completely back down after we got all the stuff into ice chests.

    When the power croaked, we threw big plastic bags and then packing blankets over the top of the WHOLE fridge and wrapped it completely to insulate it, and didn’t touch it again until the power came on three days later.

    Didn’t lose a thing.

    Of course, we would have been defrosting and eating everything in short order had it NOT come on.

  18. tree hugging sister says:

    KEEP your cell phones charged for sure, make sure you have a CAR CHARGER (I’ll add that to the list ~ our cell phones were worthless down here, though). Top your tank off when you can. Sooner rather then later if you don’t have much driving to do, but I was really only doing a shopping list at the moment.

  19. […] Read the whole thing if you live in the path of Irene… Plywood Hints for Boarding Up Your Windows From Acknowledged Hurricane Experts […]

  20. leelu says:

    If you use gas for cooking, heating, etc., candles are not a real good idea.

    If there is a gas leak, candles can be BAD.

  21. tree hugging sister says:

    Duly noted.

  22. Rob says:

    All good ideas.

    If evacuation comes up, some things to bear in mind:

    Voluntary evacuation is an intensely personal decision. Give it a lot of thought beforehand. “Let’s get to safety and deal with the consequences afterward” is not necessarily the right decision for everyone. It wouldn’t have been for us during and after Katrina. Start giving mandatory evacuation some thought NOW. Bear in mind that whatever you take with you may be all you have left when you get back.

  23. tree hugging sister says:

    Outstanding advice, Rob. Some folks just blindly run and others who should have left, don’t. Or wait until it’s too late.

    Think it through NOW.

  24. Rob says:

    Example: We have two windows that leak in windy conditions and its attendant sideways rain. We have never identified the source of that leak but we only have to deal with it once every three or four years so we live with it rather than throw money at it.

    During Katrina, two more windows developed the same type of leak. We were there, able to catch most of it, and clean it up afterward. No biggie.

    Had we not been there, had we not been able to get back home until the roads were cleared and we were allowed, we would have had to deal with mold, a remediation team, a gigantic fight with our insurance company over whether flooding caused the damage or rain caused it, and it would have been a major disruption to our lives … in addition to the disruption to our lives Katrina caused to everyone in the area.

  25. leelu says:

    About evacuation… everyone in the house should have a “grab & go” bag. It should have clean underwear, a change or two of clothes, TP (you’ll make lots of friends…), something to read/listen to, a flask of your favorite Adult Beverage, flashlight, radio, “Family Radios”, and even, perhaps, weaponry if that won’t break any applicable laws. My CERT training tells me be ready for 10 days.

    May be a tad late to organize, but a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a good thing to have:

  26. mamawolf says:

    Great advice. Grew up on the Gulf Coast and went through many of these storms. Also, if you have small ones, stock up on diapers/wipes/formula. Stores will not be open as usual because they will not have electricity either. If you choose to stay at home in a low laying area, put an ax or chainsaw in your attic. When you are forced into your attic by rising flood waters, it is the only way to cut yourself out to the roof. You will also need the chainsaw to clear the debris from your yard and the road in front of your house. Roads will be impassable for a while.

  27. tree hugging sister says:

    I linked to your comment in the post, leelu. Thanks for the tips!

    mamawolf, how RIGHT you are about the little ones! Do you know, one of the most jawdropping moments of Bertha happened while listening to the radio, the storm at full fury and a young girl called in asking if anyone had baby formula and, if so, could they run it by her house. She hadn’t bothered to get any and she was out. The baby, understandably, was upset about the situation.

    The DJ lost. His. Mind.

  28. leelu says:


    De nada!

  29. […] Mr Bingley has a complete hurricane-preparation to-do list; go read it all. A lot of the things Tree Hugging Sister lists you probably already have. The important thing is to get them organized so they are handy. […]

  30. Yojimbo says:

    Probably in here somewhere and I just missed it but the water heater is also a good source of water.

  31. sailor says:

    This is all good advice. One suggestion… get gallon jugs of water, empty a little and then freeze them in the freezer. They last longer than bagged ice and when they defrost… you have bottled water. Do the same thing for ice chests with smaller water bottles.

  32. tree hugging sister says:

    True dat, sailor. And the “empty a little” is VERY IMPORTANT if they’re going in the freezer, since they’ll expand and explode the bottle when they freeze otherwise. Ugly when they thaw.

  33. tree hugging sister says:

    No, haven’t mentioned the waterheater, Yo. It’s also good for a lukewarm…well, tepid shower 3 days in, but, at THAT point, anything is Heaven.

  34. AnthonyH says:

    The only thing I’d suggest changing is about ice. If you have ANY space left in your freezer, fill it with water bottles. Do this 3-4 days early (next time) and transfer the bottles to the fridge when they’re frozen. This will help keep your fridge/freezer cold, and will provide you with safe drinking water later.

  35. boballab says:

    I noticed tips for the humans that evacuate but everyone forgot their pets. This time around it will be too late but in the future have a pre planned destination if you get evaced. Most motels/hotels/shelters do not take your pets. There is very little more heartwrenching then having to leave your pet behind to fend for themselves due to not enough forethought.

    Also for a few bucks you can buy the cheap plastic tubs at your local Walmart/Target. Place your pets food in them to take with you. They are easier to carry and stack, which is important in a vehicle. They are also less likely to tear and make a mess.

    Here is a tip from someone that went through the Mt. Pinatubo eruption/typhoon strike: Take new/cleaned with bleach 33 gallon or larger trashcans, line them with trashbags and fill with water. It’s best to run your hose into your house and pre stage the “water barrels”. Once filled put the lid on them. This will provide you with clean drinking/cooking water.

  36. boballab says:

    Here is three items to add to your food list:

    Peanut Butter

    All require no immediate refrigeration (the jelly will last longer then Mayo in heat)

    Pop Tarts do not need to be toasted, and they are very portable. Another plus side is they give a good energy boost when doing clean up.

    Another idea is if you have a near by Army/Navy store and have the funds you can buy military style MRE’s. If you have a dedicated outdoor store such as Cabella’s they typically carry the civilian version of MRE’s.

  37. barbara says:

    Regarding securing projectiles outdoors, we don’t have a garage, but do have a large weber propane grill, heavy teak patio furniture, and about 1/2 cord of stacked wood under a tarp. We’re NOT on the shore; we’re inland about 20 to 30 miles in Jersey, so we won’t (probably!) see hurricane winds, only tropical storm winds. Any suggestions as to what to do with this big stuff given we have no garage? The house makes an L around a patio. The patio is on the northeast corner of the house and is surrounded by a hill that rises about 6 feet above the patio kind of enclosing it. I was thinking to put the stuff as snug up against the house in that L as we can. Does that make sense?

  38. barbara says:

    Oh, and I should have added, thanks very much for all the great advice in this post!

  39. Gulfcoaster says:

    What excellent advice, thanks. I never heard or thought of freezing gallon jugs of water, or piling ice in the washer, along with many other good ideas. Now let’s pray for those who live on the East Coast!

  40. Mr. Bingley says:

    Hi babara!

    I’m in Jersey (but only about 4 miles from the ocean. Yay me!) You can certainly try and tuck it in to the nook, but I’d make a couple of suggestions: 1-get rid of the tarp, as it will only act as a sail. 2-take the tarp and put it on the floor of your living room/foyer and move the furniture and grill inside and put them there if at all possible. Sure it will be cramped, but you really don’t want a flying propane bottle outside…THS will know better than I if the firewood will be ok tucked in the corner like that but my guess is yes.

  41. Mr. Bingley says:

    boballab, yeah I loaded up on the poptarts and jelly last night (already had 2 big honking jars of PB courtesy of Costco!).

    The pets issue is a good remiinder. I’m getting out the snow booties for our lab tonight; hopefully that will give his poor paws *some* protection if there’s any broken glass.

  42. Mr. Bingley says:

    Pinatubo!?!?! Ouch! As an aside, that really wiped out the Philippine coffee production; it’s never recovered.

  43. Rob says:


    I live about 100 miles inland. Katrina reached me with Category 3 winds. I think she reached Jackson, Mississippi (About 200 miles inland) with Category 2 winds. They usually dissipate quickly over land but not always.

  44. tree hugging sister says:

    Welcome Barbara and thanks so much! Bingster’s idea about the tarp and the Weber indoors is really a good one (especially if you have a couple minutes to spiff the grill up so the smell doesn’t chase you out of the house, lol), but your woodpile sounds like as “good as it’s gonna get”. I’d just make sure the stacks are as tight to the house and protected in the lee of it as they can be AND, if they’re tall? Perhaps bring them down to knee/hip height at MOST, with the heaviest chunks on top. Keep the kindling size stuff buried where it can’t catch flight. We have a exposed woodstack through all our NC ‘canes and that worked for us.

    P&J on my shopping list above, boballab! (But not poptarts…oh, GOD, how I LURVE the cinnamon ones…) By the way, never made it to Clark AFB, but both major dad and I adored Cubi Point and Subic. Pinatubo was spectacular, scary as hell and HO-LEE-COW, you were THERE?

    And thanks so MUCH, gulfcoaster. I appreciate it. I just thought, after going through this, oh, SEVEN OR EIGHT TIMES, lol, and noticing that all the dry emergency lists in the world don’t give you a sense of what it is to really have to do it, I could schmaybe save somebody a little time, heartache or make them a tad more comfortable if I scribbled what we’d learned. (Plus, our close friends like Rob have been done the same and have valuable perspective as well AND the folks who come in from links. WIN, WIN!!)

  45. Rob says:

    Not only glass, Mr B, but lots and lots of wood splinters, roof slates, broken lumber with nails, and concrete/stucco with its twisted rebar mesh. Seems to be more dangerous to tennis shoes (Trainers to you younger folks) and tires than dogs, though. Dogs somehow avoid hurting themselves most of the time. No idea how they do it.

  46. Mr. Bingley says:

    Because they’re smart, Rob.

    Look how easily they’ve trained all of us πŸ™‚

  47. major dad says:

    One last thing depending on your neighborhood; don’t forget weapons and ammo. Just sayin’…

  48. boballab says:

    Yep I was in Subic for Pinatubo and I now live outside Ocean City MD.

    For Barbara:
    If you can’t get the furniture inside your home, here is what you can do. Using either heavy Duty Bungee cord (preferred) or rope tie your furniture to something like a metal light pole that is set in concrete.

    Next best place to tie off to is something bolted to the house or set into the ground (but lacking a concrete base).

    Rule of thumb: If the cord will go around it, you can tie off to it. You will be surprised what you can get a cord around and what is available.

    Also make sure you do not tie off to your downspout. While it looks convenient to tie off to, it is a bad idea. They are typically not that well secured and will get ripped off if you tie something to them and you have high sustained winds.

    That is another thing, if you have never experienced a TS of Hurricane before, the wind speeds they give on TV are the SUSTAINED wind speeds. You can get gusts much, much higher even from a Cat 1 Hurricane. So anything you tie off must be able to handle the jerk from very high winds and also to having sustained wind force on them for 12 to 24 hrs.

  49. major dad says:

    boballab, I was in Subic summer of 92 for a couple of weeks, what a mess. Everything was closing down, it was kinda sad.

  50. Donna D. says:

    THS, thank you for the list, already emailed it to Jim, we’re also going to try and get some garbage cans at Home Depot and fill them with water and keep them in my kitchen. Plywood sold out and I have big windows, I’ll have to hope for the best. Bingley – you and the family take care you’re closer to the ocean than I am.

  51. mojo says:

    Hey, where’s the two-liter bottle of Bourbon and the canned ham?…

  52. Julie says:

    Wow, these are great tips. Thanks!
    When Ike hit, I happened to have some frozen bread dough in my fridge/freezer. Power was out for 2-3 weeks. When I came home I was DREADING cleaning out the fridge and freezer, dreading the smell. But there was hardly any smell. Why? The bread dough absorbed it (somehow in the process of rising and deflating, I guess)! And it wasn’t that hard to clean up. So now I keep frozen bread dough on hand during hurricane season.

  53. Kate P says:

    Don’t forget to have your meds and your pet’s meds, too!

    I’m not really sure what’s going to happen here in Philly, and it’s weird living in an apartment building instead of a home where I could do a lot of the stuff in the suggestions. All we got was a memo from the landlord saying get your stuff off your balconies!

    So I’m hoping for the best, prepared with batteries and canned goods, and praying all I get is the usual leak in the dining room when it rains hard.

  54. Yehudit says:

    Crank radio/flashlight.

    Too late for this storm but something to think of in the future: there is a gizmo which will power an iphone or any kind of phone or iPod you can power via USB. It takes AA batteries – just keep popping ’em in and getting power.

    You might not be able to get cell reception for a while, but you still want to have a working phone just in case.

  55. Yehudit says:

    Kate P, I am in NYC in an apartment building, on the 25th floor! Also told to take stuff off the balconies. But the advice about the water in the freezer, well, anything about the kitchen is useful.

  56. Mr. Bingley says:

    I’ve got one of the crank flashlights which will also power the cellphone; you’re exactly right, Yehudit.

  57. Rob says:

    Be safe, eastern seaboarders. Irene looks like bad news.

  58. Mr. Bingley says:

    9am air is very very still, thick and insanely humid. not a whiff of a breeze and now it’s starting to shower.

  59. Mr. Bingley says:

    and tropically hot.

  60. Donna D. says:

    Hot and it’s a creepy feeling, now I know what is meant by “the lull before the storm.”

  61. tree hugging sister says:

    Blech. Enjoy it while you can. πŸ™‚

    And I’ve added a paragraph about getting pets outside as OFTEN as you can, WHILE you can and backing off their usual feeding schedule for a day like this.

  62. tree hugging sister says:

    Apartment dwellers, REMEMBER your LIFT WON”T WORK without electricity. If there’s something you HAVE to HAVE and can’t get it up there WITHOUT an ELEVATOR, DO IT NOW.

    You’d be surprised how HUGE a complaint that was for condo owners in Miami after Wilma. (I’m, like, 86, live on the 67th floor, my insulin needs ice, but there’s no elevator…)

  63. Mr. Bingley says:

    shit. she’s moved a tad west. hurricane-force winds extend out 90 miles…and in 24 hrs i’ll be 15 miles from the center! well, i’ve got the big window plywooded. hopefully her taste of southern hospitality today will weaken her a lot πŸ™‚

  64. tree hugging sister says:

    Well, good on you getting that done, little brother!

    A “This Old House” achievement star and I KNOW you’ll be POSTING PICTURES of your clever handiwork…

    Now, she’s over land in NC, so that may take a good bit of the stuffins out of her. Bless those folks underneath, they’re cranky about storms ~ with good reason ~ so maybe some of that juju will rise skyward to smite her as well.

  65. boballab says:

    Unfortunately Mr. Bingley the NHC has stated in their 11 am update that Irene will still be a Cat 1 hurricane all the way up the coast from N.C. to New England.

    Back around 10 am the first big band from Irene came through the Ocean City MD area.

  66. Mr. Bingley says:

    Oh hey, did I mention that the guy is here right now from Lowes installing our new (and not cheap) STORM doors?

    Is my timing execrable or what? πŸ˜€

  67. Mr. Bingley says:

    Yeah, I see that Boballab. I really hope she speeds up. 15 mph just ain’t gonna be fun.

  68. Ave says:

    Keeping fingers and toes crossed for all.

  69. boballab says:

    I have been taking photos as the bands come through and will be posting them here (as long as I have power and a connection):

    Oh on the timing for the door it could be worse. He could have showed up on Monday morning. πŸ™‚

  70. anona says:

    Too late for this mess, but things to add to the list for when trouble strikes again. Candle lanterns (so you don’t burn the house down,or chem lights. Bow saw to reduce downed vegitation to manageable size. Gloves for cleanup. Matches. Hand cranked, self charging lights and radio. (skip the ‘shaker type they’re not worth the effort) for when the batteries run out. A power converter or two that you can hook to your car for electric (use for small appliances only). A cpu for your computer (get a large capacity one to keep your cordless phone base going if you don’t have an old school, corded one (you did keep the land line?)A long prybar to leverage the big stuff out of the way. Tarps to cover the roof when the shingles go on vacay. And a hanner and nails and some wood strips to keep them in place. Last but not least; lots more than one can opener,(they have a habit of wandering off if they’re alone it seems). Dinner’s delayed ’till we find the can opener? Not good, and can lead to injury when alternate methods are used.

  71. This is an ANYTIME tip, but extra-good for emergencies…

    Freezers run much, much less when full. We keep ours packed with bottled water. We survived aWEEK with no power and nothing thawed!

    For picnics, beach, etc.the frozen bottles work great in the cooler, set them in the sun & they’ll thaw as you drink & keep it ice cold!

    When I boarded up our windows, I cut the plywood to the same size as our screens. Tuck into slot at top, 1×2 bar across middle & tighten with wedges of 1×2. Made a loop handle of nylon route at bottom, poll in tight a close window, little stretch in rope plus knot ending up just inside makes a snug fit, and all this only requires 2 screws per window!

  72. Winston Smith says:

    Probably not something you need right now, but we get cyclones in rural Australia as well. The major issue is being away, losing power, and when it comes back on you can’t tell until the freezer full of food starts making everyone sick. I always fill the freezer with bottles of water and leave an ice cube on top somewhere – if the ice cubes gone, I know the contents are suspect. Same with the vaccine fridges – fill them with Bottles of Normal Saline and they act as thermal reservoirs. Vaccines are expensive.
    Good luck to you all.

  73. barbara says:

    Folks —

    Just wanted to say thanks to all for the advice; it’s been amazingly helpful as we’ve prepared for what we hope won’t be too bad up here in inland NJ. We decided to trust to our hill to protect the grill & furniture(although we put the chairs on their sides under the table), but we got everything else out of the way. We’ve had a busy day getting ready and now as the rains beat against the roof we’re waiting. We’ve got ice, a new cooler, lots of water, had a nice dinner, and will go to sleep once the 11PM advisories post:-)

    Mr. Bingley — I sure hope all goes well for you that close to the water!

    Good luck all, and thanks again for help/advice in a tense situation!

  74. tree hugging sister says:

    barbara, boballab ~ check in when you can and ket us know how you fared!

    Many thanks Winston (and yes, you all DO have some experience with these nasty. NASTY tropical blows…), anona and Dad for your additions to the growing bank of wisdom here. we appreciate it MUCH!

  75. boballab says:

    My home didn’t fared to bad, we only lost a rose bush and a maple tree we planted last year.

    Spent most of the day helping others in the area cut up downed tree limbs and such since we have a chainsaw.

  76. barbara says:

    We just got power back and this is one of the first places I wanted to check in and repeat my most heartfelt THANKS to all for the great advice. We’re all fine and had no damage, only a couple of trees on the wires and the electic company cut those back.

    Power was out 3+ days, but from all I learned here we even still had cream for our coffee this AM. We emptied our freezer into a friend’s house yesterday so we won’t even lose much of the food. The freezer stuff was still hard frozen because we’d learned enough here to arrange not to need to open the fridge at all.

    Worst problem now is that our sewage pumping station went out yesterday, so we are being asked to minimize water use. That means we can’t have that long hot shower or do launry or dishes till the station gets back online. We’re just hoping it gets fixed soon and doesn’t become a worse issue. Fortunately, we are 30 or 50 feet above the pump station, so we’re unlikely to have problems, but you gotta worry for those lower down and closer to the station!

    Again, thanks so much for providing a virtual community and reassurance that we’d get through this thing!

  77. tree hugging sister says:

    WooHoo, boballab! Or should I say, Paul boballab and his chainsaw, lol? Now major dad is going to start agitating for one again, dammit…

    Oh, barbara, FANTASTIC, just FANTASTIC!!! We are so tickled you came through safely and that we could be any help at all.

    Don’t be a stranger, girlfriend, now that you know everybody. That goes for you, too, boballab ~ it seems like we’ve been chatty neighbors forever already, you know?

    It’s easy being a virtual community with such terrific members. Now let’s look forward to a quiet rest of the HEIGHTH of the season…(as she scours the backyard for a sacrificial fowl…)

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