With two months until the Atlantic Hurricane Season begins, it is time to start getting our hurricane kits back in order. Everyone knows the standards:
- weather radio
- battery/solar/hand crank radio or tv
- canned goods
- one gallon of water per person per day for one week
- water on hand for sanitation (toilets, washing)
- Baby wipes (even if you don’t have babies!)
- non-chlorine bleach and water tablets (to sanitize water & clean)
- camp stove or other non-electric cooking appliance
- propane for the camp stove, or appropriate fuel
- fill your car with gas
- have cash on hand (power out means no ATM)
What all of this really means is – pretend you’re going camping for at least a week in the wilderness. You will have no access to any of your normal amenities, so you need to have it all on hand. Some of these things you will use and replenish, but need to make sure to keep on hand. Usually those are perishable food items like:
- Dairy products
- Lunch/Sandwhich meats
- ICE — get a few bags to keep your freezer cold!
These are just the things that I am listing off of the top of my head. I haven’t looked at a list yet this year, but I’ve lived in Florida all my life and prepare every year. Nothing we buy ever goes to waste, since everything we buy is used at one point or another. As I was writing the list, I found myself writing ideas in too, for instance how to keep things cold, and when to buy. These are some of the best practices that I know of:
- Get enough ice to keep your freezer cold, and if you have a deep freeze, store the ice there.
- have a container on hand which will fit a block of ice and your refrigerator. This will keep your cold goods cold a lot longer, and will work even better if you keep the refrigerator shut as much as possible.
- When you go grocery shopping before a storm, make sure you buy food which does not require milk, butter, and other perishable products. If you use this rule, you will have more food which you can make, even if your refrigerator of food goes bad.
- Do not stock up on extra perishable goods! Because when a storm hits, the first thing to go is the power, make sure that you do not put a lot of money into your refrigerator or freezer. When you buy milk, make it powdered milk, or at least have powdered milk on hand for recipes that need it. Only buy enough perishable goods to last you as long as your extra ice will last. After that point, your food will go bad and with it, the extra money spent.
- Make sure that you not only fill up your car, but during hurricane season it is a good idea to not let your gas tank get below 1/3 to 1/4th of a tank. A lot of people use this as a rule, but with tight times, you may want to wait as long as possible before you refill your car. If you let your car get too low, you will not have the fuel in your car to get you to where you CAN buy more. Most gas stations do NOT have generators on hand for the fuel pumps, so when the electricity is gone, so is the gas.
- Have fuel on hand for your chainsaw if you have one. Even if you do not have trees that fall in your yard, you may want to help your neighbors out who were not so lucky, and maybe do not have their own chainsaw. What about if you don’t use it for this storm? If you store the fuel pure (without adding 2cycle oil or other mix) you can always use the fuel later in your car, or compatible gas engine.
- Have fuel on hand for your grill, cook stove or other cooking appliance. Depending on what you have, this means propane, charcoal or wood. If there is a storm, there will be plenty of wood. Find your friend with the chainsaw and axe 🙂
- One of the best ways to store water is in a bath tub. We usually fill our large bath tub with water as a storm is coming in, and that water can be used for anything from flushing the toilet to drinking water. We have never had damage to our home, but definitely consider the fact that damage to the house would dirty that water. It is still good for flushing and maybe washing, depending on the extent of the damage. Consider using a sheet or other fine material you normally have on hand as a filter if the worst case happens.
- One of the things which I found last year on Bryan Norcross’s site was a Water Safe. This is a device which fits into your tub or sink, and is then filled with water. This is a very neat idea which I can see being very useful.
Medical / Emergency:
- Make sure you have all medications filled ahead of the storm, and have at least a weeks supply on hand.
- If you have a condition which requires you to stay at the local hospital to ride out the storm, then please do! Emergency vehicles are not allowed — for their own safety — to venture out into a storm once it reaches a certain strength (I think sustained tropical storm force winds, but possibly sustained hurricane force winds). This means that they cannot get to you to get you out. Downed trees, tree limbs and powerlines could also prevent them from getting to you soon after a storm. Be safe, and evacuate to a hospital if you know you should.
- In Miami, the drop in pressure from Hurricane Andrew caused many women in their last trimester of pregnancy to go into labor that night. If those women would have stayed home, they would have had their babies on their own, where the potential for complications would be much greater, and no medical personnel able to get to them to help.
- In New Orleans, people who were “in the bowl” were unable to leave their homes once the levees broke right after Katrina. Even though the storm surge did not affect their homes, they still became trapped. While the loss of property could not have been prevented that day, the emergency rescues could have been. The storm surge was larger than anticipated because the winds dropped before Katrina hit land, which made some assume that the storm surge would also recede. There was a failure to understand that the power of a wall of water cannot be easily diminished, and in the Gulf of Mexico, where the waters are more shallow, the water tends to rise more like a tsunami. In everything hurricane, even if your local news station tells you not to worry, yet the National Hurricane Center tells you to get out of doge, I would listen to the NHC. They have MANY more years of study than your local news personality behind the desk.
- In short, be prepared and know your environment and your limitations.
- Consider this: you have kids who are accustomed to having TVs, video game consoles, computers, hand held game devices and other immediate gratification for entertainment. What happens when that is not available? For most parents, it means insanity – not for the kids but for the parents!
- Make sure that you have things to do, on hand which do not require batteries, or any sort of electricity. Some samples:
- Be prepared to sit down and talk to your family! Your kids will have their fears, let them talk to you about them, even if it drives you a little batty. Your kids have probably never gone through anything like a major hurricane, and if you’re lucky, you haven’t either. Your child’s fears may seem small compared to yours, but helping them get through those fears could save them a lot of therapy later, and it could save you too!
- It is a great idea to have a battery, solar, human or other powered fan available after the storm.
- When hurricane Andrew came through Broward county in 1992, power at my house was knocked out for a week. There was little to no breeze and it was the end of August — the hottest part of the summer. I had a hand held fan that I used constantly, which added to my comfort in a big way. Just the little bit of a blowing breeze was enough. I’ve grown up with having air conditioning my whole life, and parents that like to set the thermostat to what seems to be sub-zero. I do not deal well with heat at all, yet I live in Florida. Go figure.
The most important thing to do is to have a plan, and follow through with it. During Hurricane Season, you can never be too prepared. It is a personal responsibility that each person must take upon themselves. Help will not arrive the morning after a storm, so being prepared for the storm is always the right course.
There are lots of things which are not listed here, like generators, ductape, and more. Let us know how you prepare for hurricane season, and don’t forget to mention where you live so others in your area can relate to your ideas!
Are you looking for more information on hurricanes and hurricane preparedness? Try these links: