A 20-Something’s Guide to Hurricane Season

Hurricane season.

Two words every person in the Gulf Coast area just loves hearing.

June 1st marked the beginning of the season and since we’ve been so helpful getting you drunk, feeding you and making you laugh, we thought we should try to keep you safe too.

First of all, you should know that Hurricane season is no joke, so make you are prepared beforehand. By knowing the right things to do, you can focus on getting somewhere safe, or at least being prepared when the time comes.


The Basics

What’s the difference between a tropical depression, a tropical storm and a hurricane?

In essence, each one is just a heightened version of the former. A tropical depression is defined by The Weather Channel as “a tropical cyclone in which the maximum surface winds are 38 mph or 33 knots or less.” If it continues to gain speed and is fed by warm waters, it will develop into a tropical storm. A tropical storm is any storm that has sustained wind speeds of over 39 mph and as such it will receive an official name from the National Weather Service. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because it’s not a hurricane that a tropical storm won’t be dangerous and damaging. Tropical storms have been known to be especially damaging to this city in the past, especially in terms of monetary damage.

A hurricane is any storm that has wind speeds of over 79 mph. Once it has reached this point, the Saffir-Simpson Chart (below) can tell you what category it will be assigned based on it’s properties.

Here is a chart we made based on information from the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness:

hurricane chart


How to Prepare:

Preparation is the best way you can avoid major hassle and stress when it comes to hurricanes. We can’t control Mother Nature but we can control how we react to her. So here are a few things to remember when you are preparing for hurricane season this year, taken from our friend Herb Carver, the Catastrophe Geek:

1. Make an Emergency Kit

Emergency kits consist of the essentials that you and your family are going need should you be without power for days or should you have to leave quickly and don’t have time to run around and pack up your whole house.

  1. Enough water and canned food for three days per person in your group (don’t forget the can opener)
  2. Clothes, underwear, socks, and shoes for three days
  3. A battery-operated flashlight with extra batteries
  4. Battery-operated radio
  5. A first aid kit
  6. Pet food, kennel and leash. NEVER LEAVE YOUR PETS, EVER.
  7. All of your important documents (birth certificate, license, house deed, car lease, health insurance card, passport) in a water-tight bag ready to go
  8. Cellphone charger
  9. Tools if you have to turn off the water or gas lines
  10. Moist towelettes for hygiene if you are without water
  11. Whistle to alert rescue teams
  12. Baby food, formula, blankets, diapers and other baby essentials
  13. A few hundred dollars in cash. ATMs and banking services will likely be suspended if there is a natural disaster.
  14. A bottle of something strong. Might I suggest whiskey?

Most of these things could fit in a dufflebag or suitcase. Have your emergency kit in a hall closet or garage just for the duration of hurricane season so you can grab and go if need be.It may seem nerdy but having a least a few of these things prepared will save you from getting shot looking for food in your neighbor’s house.


2. Car Maintenance

I’m about to sound a lot like your dad.  You need to check on your car before hurricane season is in

Check your car before you make any trips
Check your car before you make any trips

full force. Even if there isn’t an evacuation order, if you live in an area of the city that floods often, you may just want to leave anyways. My rule of thumb, and please take this with a grain of salt, if it’s over a category-one hurricane, get out. If you are in a flood-prone area, get out if it’s a hurricane. Unfortunately, there will probably be thousands of other people with the same idea. You will be stuck in traffic for a majority of the time, you may have to travel a few miles before finding a place to stay, either way…check yourself before you wreck yourself.

  • Check your oil, tires, brakes and brake fluid, transmission fluid, really any of the fluids
  • Clean out the garbage
  • Have an extra gallon of gasoline (or more) on hand in case you run out of gas
  • Have a tire repair kit. You don’t want to be a stranded evacuee.
  • If you don’t have a car, you need to make arrangements TODAY with someone you trust will come to get you.


3. Pets

Our pets are our furry family. That’s why you can’t forget their needs when it is time to leave during an emergency. And if you are one of those people that think you can leave your animal behind, you’re wrong and also a questionably immoral person. Take them with you,end of story. These are few helpful tips you can use if the time comes:

  • Have your pets microchipped in case you are separated and a shelter finds them.
  • Remember to bring kennels and leashes to help you keep your animals from running off when they’re scared.
  • Bring treats, food, sedatives, and blankets to calm them if they get nervous.
  • Make sure that your animals are up to date on their shots.
  • Be sure your animals have collars on them.
  • You may not be allowed to bring your animals into a hotel or motel you’re staying at. Use the kennels to keep them outside or the locked car (with cracked windows).

The LASPCA also provides a very sound check list to ensure that you and your pet remain safe, even under the worst circumstances.

No Pet Gets Left Behind. No Excuses!
No Pet Gets Left Behind. No Excuses!

4. Family and Friends

After you worry about you and those you are directly responsible for, your biggest concern is going to be making sure that your family and friends reach safety. Cellphones or internet may not work, so you need to make a better plan for how you are going to keep in touch.

  • Have a meet up location, a town or a family house in a safety area. Agree to meet there.
  • Stop at rest stops and use pay phones to call whoever answers.
  • Get email addresses from everyone.
  • Use social media to create groups so you can alert people across a wide range.
  • Make sure that you’re elderly and disabled relatives and neighbors have a ride and safe place to stay.

5. Your Job

Your manager or boss may not be from Louisiana and may not have experienced the horror that was Katrina, but perhaps offering some of these suggestions will help them realize they need an emergency plan.

  • Make a social media group that you can all join so that you can receive updates.
  • Make an email list to keep track of where everyone ends up.
  • Set up direct deposit with your work today! It takes at least two weeks to complete and you may not be there to pick up a paycheck, but you are going to need money if you’re evacuating.
  • If your boss threatens to fire you because you’re evacuating. Let ’em. Then collect unemployment and find a better job.


What Should You Do If You’re Staying?

If you decide to stay and brave the storm, there are a few things you need to do to prepare as well.

No safety measure is too much when it comes to hurricanes
No safety measure is too much when it comes to hurricanes
  1. Cover all your windows with plywood and plastic. Duct tape doesn’t count.
  2. Strap your roof down.
  3. Cut any dead branches from trees around your house. You may not care about them now but you’re going to care when it’s on top of your car.
  4. Clean out your gutters.
  5. Bring in your plants and outdoor furniture.
  6. Find a safe room in your house, preferably upstairs.

Here are the important numbers:

National Weather Service Forecast 

504-522-7330 (New Orleans/ Baton Rouge)

337-477-5285 (Lake Charles)

LA State Road Closures Hotline


American Red Cross 

1-866-GET-INFO (1-866-438-4636)

Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness


And here is a list of approved shelters outside of danger zones 


If you are an out-of-state college student:

Stay in touch with your administrators, I’m sure they will provide you with information, safety and transportation. Do not try to be the cool kid that stays in his dorm alone and rides out a hurricane. Two words: Rookie. Mistake.


 What do we do while we wait?

Okay, so you’ve got your emergency kit. You’re house is secured. You’re either at h0me waiting it out or you’re away and waiting and it out. Either way, you’re going to get bored.

  • Bring some board games like Cards Against Humanity, Apples to Apples, Trivial Pursuit, Candyland, pick your poison.
  • Bring a deck of cards to play things like solitaire, poker or your favorite drinking game.
  • Buy beer and ice so you can play drinking games or just to drown out the sound of your family crammed into a small space.
  • Read while drinking.
  • Lay down on the ground and drink.
  • Watch movies while drinking.
  • My personal favorite, sleep through it.
  • Hurricane Party!


Remember to stay inside and if the storm gets particularly bad, stay away from windows and doors. Enjoy the time with your friends or family and be safe.

Have a safe hurricane season from all of us at Red Beans and Life!

Tell us about your hurricane experiences or any tips we forget to mention. Best of luck to everyone and our beautiful city during hurricane season this year. Stay safe lovelies!!

About Morgan

Morgan was born in Georgia, raised in Louisiana, a Southern gal through and through. A graduate of the University of New Orleans, she loves her Saints, her city and inserting thinly veiled sarcasm throughout all her writing.

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