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Firefighters Share 7 Emergency “Hurricane Hacks” Every Family Should Know

Gold Hill Volunteer Fire Department / Edward Obediah Sweat - Facebook

As the East Coast battens down the hatches for Hurricane Florence, emergency workers are taking to social media with helpful advice and information.

North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia are expected to face the worst of the storm, but millions of people along the coast are preparing for the worst.

Worrying about rain and flooding is one thing, but there's also a strong chance of spending several days without power.

Along with stocking up on emergency supplies and planning for evacuations, first responders say there are clever ways to get ready for such a weather emergency.

The Gold Hill Volunteer Fire Department of North Carolina posted a list of "hacks" or tricks that can keep your family safe and comfortable during the storm, plus protect your property from hurricane damage.

While the fire department "cannot guarantee they will all work," these tips might prove useful this week.

1. Build An Indoor Doggy Potty

We have no quibbles with this genius hack, and in fact I'm sorry I didn't think of it myself.

Letting your dog out to "do their business" during a storm is pretty scary. Pooches are prone to getting "spooked" by the bad weather and running away.

A clever alternative is to keep your dog indoors but build them a "doggy potty" in a secluded area like the garage or basement.

Like a litter box, this pile of sod in a kitty pool collects your pet's waste in one place and keeps your floors clean.

2. Make Soft Electric Lamps

The first step for most people when the power goes out is to light a candle.

But candles are so prone to starting fires that some fire departments recommend stocking up on electric lights and batteries instead.

Here's a cheap but effective way to light a room without candles:

Wrap a headlamp around an empty water bottle or milk jug (taping a flashlight to the bottle does the trick as well).

The lamp creates a "soft" glowing light that shines around the room, without the risk of being knocked over and starting a fire. This tip gets the U.S. First Responders Association's seal of approval.

3. Freeze Ziploc Bags Of Water

Two of the biggest risks during a hurricane are that your freezer will lose power, spoiling your food, and that your home's supply of clean water will be interrupted.

This hack from the U.S. First Responders Association solves both problems at once.

Fill Ziploc bags about 3/4 full with water. The filled bags can be stacked on top of your food or spread around the sides of the freezer.

If you need fresh water during the storm, you have a steady supply from the bags. And if the power goes out, the bags of ice will keep food cold a little longer.

Don't depend on the ice to do the freezer's job for very long, but when you're without power every little bit helps.

4. Fill Garbage Bags With Water

A similar approach with a much bigger bag can protect your home as well as your freezer.

Sandbags are fast and effective way to protect your property from flooding. But if you don't live in a flood-prone area, you may not have any handy.

Plenty of homeowners have made do with regular garbage bags, filled with water so they form a barrier against rising water.

Filling the bags with pebbles or gravel from your yard will do the trick too.

You shouldn't count on the garbage bags to protect against rising water and debris like real sandbags, but they're better than nothing.

5. Use A Washing Machine As A Cooler

If you can stock up on ice before the storm arrives, this is another clever way to keep food and drinks cold.

The U.S. First Responders Association stands by this hack, which avoid making a mess because the melted ice drains out through the machine.

Just be sure to unhook your washer first, so backup from the sewers doesn't ruin your makeshift cooler.

With the lid closed, the freezer keeps food reasonably cool. But don't rely on this trick for more than a day or two unless it's absolutely necessary.

6. Fill Your Bathtub With Water

Cold War kids will remember this tried-and-true survival technique, which is good for more than just hurricanes.

In an emergency where clean water could be scarce for several days, having your own supply could be lifesaving.

The National Weather Service suggests sanitizing your bathtubs and sinks, then filling them with water. Laying down a clean tarp to hold the water can save time.

You can use the water for drinking, cleaning, and also to manually flush your toilet when the water is out.

7. Put A Coin On Your Ice Cubes

This simple hack could save your family from getting very sick after a hurricane.

Some people use it everyday, but it really comes in handy when power is going out intermittently, like during a hurricane, or when you have to leave home for several days.

Place a small coin on an ice cube and check it before taking anything out of the freezer.

If the coin has sunk into the ice, you know there was a power outage, and your frozen food might be unsafe to eat.

There is a caveat that sometimes the ice in your freezer can outlast the food , but generally this tip is an easy way to spot trouble.

Beware, here's one hurricane hack you should NOT trust:

Last year, a viral Facebook post suggested storing valuables in the dishwasher during a hurricane.

The logic behind the idea was that a dishwasher is like a waterproof safe, but in fact that's not true.

In a story about the viral hack last year, an appliance repair shop owner told the Tampa Bay Times that he had seen a lot of flooded and water-damaged machines over the years.

As a New Orleans homeowner said after flooding in 2006, "I put dishes I wanted to save in my dishwasher. They did not break, but the mud and water in St. Bernard Parish managed to get inside. Photographs stored in a dishwasher would just be little pieces of white paper."

Remember, the most effective "hacks" to stay safe during a hurricane are planning ahead and following emergency evacuation orders!

Have you tried any of these hacks before?

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com