Hurricane Katrina survivor posts tips for people evacuating their homes as Hurricane Florence approaches

Korin Miller
A satellite image of Hurricane Florence from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Photo: NOAA via Getty Images)

A New Orleans woman who says she survived Hurricane Katrina shared survival tips on Facebook as Hurricane Florence approaches the East Coast.

Labanna Babalon began her post (which now appears to have been removed) with: “ATTENTION: For everyone evacuating. A quick lesson learned from losing my house and everything I owned in Katrina…” before going into her helpful tips.

Screenshot of Labanna Babalon’s post on helpful hurricane survival tips. (Photo: Labanna Babalon/Facebook)

She’s not the only one posting as Florence nears the U.S.: Several other hurricane survivors are speaking out on social media about the importance of hurricane safety and how Florence shouldn’t be underestimated:

Several tips from survivors are floating around online, and experts say that some are legit, and others may be a waste of your time. Here are some of the suggestions:

Photograph every room from every angle, including the contents of every drawer and cabinet.

This is for insurance purposes to help you claim and verify what may become damaged in the storm — and it’s a great idea, Jack E. Nicholson, director of the Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center at Florida State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “The more pictures, the better in my opinion. I did that before the last hurricane to come through Tallahassee,” he shares. 

Download the Zello app Walkie Talkie.

This free smartphone app is designed to help you use your phone as a walkie-talkie or two-way radio. Here’s the thing: You need to have a WiFi or Internet connection to use it. People have downloaded it before a hurricane struck, but again, if your Wi-Fi goes out, it’s not going to be helpful at all.

Empty your dishwasher and put valuables in there.

The argument here is that your dishwasher is waterproof and (likely) attached to a cabinet, making it more likely to survive a storm. Nicholson calls this tip “a stretch.” Instead, you may be better off putting valuables in a lockbox, away from windows, on the second floor of your home if you have one.

Shut every door in your house to minimize pressure.

Well, you might want to shut the doors in your house, but it has more to do with saving your roof, Matt Rogers, of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “The pressure fields in a hurricane are large enough that you won’t see meaningful pressure differences across a house,” he explains. But that’s provided your home is intact. That said, hurricane winds that may enter your home through an open or broken window can create an upward pressure on your roof, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. Closing inside doors can help compartmentalize the pressure, lessening the pressure on your roof. “Go ahead and shut the doors,” Rogers says.

Put a quarter on top of a frozen cup of water in your freezer.

This is a tip from Sheila Russell, who shared it two years ago on Facebook, but it’s now going viral. “You put a cup of water in your freezer. Freeze it solid and then put a quarter on top of it and leave it in your freezer. That way when you come back after you’ve been evacuated you can tell if your food went completely bad and just refroze or if it stayed frozen while you were gone,” she explains in the post. “If the quarter has fallen to the bottom of the cup that means all the food defrosted and you should throw it out. But if the quarter is either on the top or in the middle of the cup then your food may still be OK.” While this is a cool trick, “I’m not sure how necessary using a quarter in the freezer would be,” Nicholson says. Instead, you can simply look at the ice in your freezer to see if it melted and refroze together.

If you’re not sure what you need in the event of a hurricane, check the National Weather Service’s hurricane preparedness advice.

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