Living in Mexico. EVERYTHING you need to know (and then some)
getting ready for hurricane season. tips to surviving a hurricane in mexico
June 9, 2021
Getting ready for hurricane season is a big deal for me. But not as big now as when I first moved here since I’ve acquired a hurricane box and filled it with hurricane season stuff. Even though the plastic container box is always ready-to-go, there are still a ton of things to do to get ready.
First we can start with the box. I have a basic 20L plastic container that is filled with things like candles (several 10-packs, unscented), matches, lighter, tarps, duct tape, strong string/twine and rope both thick yellow and a thinner white.
I also have bungee straps, two rechargeable fans, thick jumbo sized garbage bags, silicone, a hand water pump for garrafons and a small solar panel all-in-one kit I bought online years ago. The all-in-one part is an AC / solar rechargeable flashlight, radio, USB player, fan and three-3w light bulbs on 5’ cords. It’s been one of the best emergency pieces I’ve ever bought.
Everything in the box is opened and ready to use. Even the silicone tube is precut. Nothing worse than hunting for a knife or scissors in the dark when water is pouring in a window leak you didn’t know about.
Now with the house. I do not board windows. Very few in my neighborhood do. Houses here are concrete and boarding windows is an all-day, laborious and expensive job. I have one window that I will make an exception for this year since it is high up and under a moving branch that I do not want to cut. In the summer, it offers a lot of sun protection.
Clean all leaves and remove all debris, then run around and caulk all windows. Even if you think they’re all good-to-go, do it anyway. I can tell you from experience that even the smallest pinhole will be used by Mother Nature to push as much water as possible into your abode.
Let’s just say I’ve had to silicone in the dark in the middle of a hurricane after waking up in the night to a soaked floor. Mother Nature found my pinhole before I did.
By the way, keep a handful of heavy towels nearby and easy to access. Take them out of the closet or drawer they are normally stored in. Four super heavy cotton towels helped soak up my wet mess while I looked for the pinhole in the window. Having them out saved me from wasting more time, stumbling around in the dark.
Other things I suggest you get are electric appliance plugs if you have newer appliances (fridge, deep freezer) with compressors. I bought mine online. Here, power outages don’t always stay out, but instead, flicker off and on, just enough to confuse everything, send power surges and burn out compressors.
I have two, one on my fridge and the other on my deep freezer. When the power is cut, the special plugs stay off until power has been fully balanced and restored for at least 3 consecutive minutes. Best purchase ever!
I also have a box of self charging light bulbs (got those online too). They look pretty much like regular bulbs and act 100 percent like regular bulbs. Stick them in your sockets and every time you use them, they charge an internal battery. As soon as power is lost, they automatically come on offering a 3w white light. The ones I purchased last six consecutive hours.
I have them scattered around, one in the kitchen, the bathroom, hallway and master bedroom. I also have four spares that are always charged. The one in the kitchen and hallway are sacrificed to stay on during the entire storm or until I go to bed. That offers me complete “normal” evening light in my house and goes a long way to making things feel a little less “stormy”.
To turn them on or off, just use your regular light switch. These bulbs are important because last year when we were hit, the entire Yucatan Peninsula had its power cut in grids starting at 9:00 p.m. It was meant to control surges and result in the least amount of damage possible. We were without power for 24 hours, but other areas went two to three days. It was nice to have the self-charging light bulbs as evening two without power approached.
Last year, we were told by state authorities to prepare for a possible three-days of emergency storm provisions (no water or power), so I also grabbed bags of ice. I have a cooler I use for camping, so before the storm I pulled it out and got it ready. Ready means washed and cleaned (remember, no power means no water), so do it beforehand.
I threw the bags of ice in my deep freezer the day before (to make sure they were frozen solid) and had them ready in case we were really without power (refrigerator) for a few days. At the very least, I’d have someplace cold to put fridge perishables for a few more days.
Another must-have to survive a Mexican hurricane well is a spare clean bucket. Since our water system is dependent on electricity, a power cut means no water. I just happen to have an above ground Intex pool. Not for emergencies, but because I’ve always had one, but during emergencies, what a lifesaver!
I have more than 20,000 liters of extra water for things like toilet flushing and laundry. I’ve not had emergency laundry issues, but during storms when the lights are out and the water is off, having a gray water supply is priceless. I have a large mop bucket I dip into my pool then run into my bathroom and leave it set there for when its needed. Refill as required. You can also earmark a clean garbage can for this same purpose to ensure a little extra water.
At the very beginning of the season, I buy items like silicone, rope, toilet paper, paper towel, pasta, cereals and other dry foods for me and the dog. I also buy several 4L bottles of bleach and extra mop heads just in case we flood. No point trying to generate a clean floor with a soiled muddy mop.
These are things I use throughout the year anyway, so having a few extra on hand during the hurricane season is not a big deal. What you buy now, you won’t have to buy later. It also means avoiding that inevitable “panic shopping” that happens when the “H-word” is officially said out loud.
I don’t usually do these all at once, but over the course of June and July. Here, our peak hurricane season is mid-September. In the event we have a storm on the way, I then also head to a gas station and fill up since storms often down trees and generate flooding of cenotes which cause roadway washouts which here means no restocking of living supplies until its repaired.
Local water trucks will pass by the houses as usual until they cannot. Same with LP gas trucks, so you can order from them until the day before the storm or until the governor sends them home.
You may smirk at this one, but I also prepay bills. Since bills are electronically cut off (in Mexico City) when payment is not received, I pay as many as I can online before a storm. That way, when things are restored locally, ALL things are restored locally so if the Internet is down, my payments have already been received.
It’s a good idea to hit up an ATM too just in case. No one around here says no to cash.
If you’ve never been here in a storm that requires your house to be shut up, you need to know that after about four hours, your concrete house can begin to feel like a tomb. The whole idea of shutting up tight is to keep out the wind and rain, but it also means no fresh air.
For example, last year, hurricane #1 saw us with closed windows and doors for around five hours. Hurricane #2 lasted 13 hours.
That is the reason I buy unscented candles and use them as a last resort, my rechargeable and solar lights are first choice. Also, you will find the small plastic rechargeable fans a godsend after a few hours with still air. Just some food for thought.
Remember, these are personal things I do to prepare and are just ideas that can be used in addition to your authority-related storm emergency preparations.