Being in the southeast means that we have a few little problems with mother nature from time to time. Hurricanes being a yearly event for most of us that live in that area of our country. Since there is ALWAYS plenty of warning there really is no excuse for a full time resident or a seasonal one to not be ready.To help those that have never been through a hurricane or for those wanting to finally be prepared for one I will go through some common issues,preps and ways to plan for one. that have worked for me over the years.
This is the 1st thing you will need to get laid out. Having one made before your area gets a warning activated or a hurricane watch in place will save you time and frustration.Your plan will not be the same as mine. They should always be tailored to your needs. So the warnings are flashed across the TV and radio. What do you do.
I would advise sitting down with your loved ones/family, roommate etc. and decide what course of action should you take if a hurricane is heading your way. Should you stay or should you go? This is the most important one, as it may save your life.
While Cat. 1 hurricanes are not as strong as a Cat. 5, they will produce tornadoes,flooding, and power outages. Let alone the housing damages,road closures and damage to local infrastructure.You may be ordered by local authorities to evacuate as well. So you need a plan in place that involves vacating your home.
To be honest, the best plan is to vacate your area prior to the hurricanes landfall. Part of this plan is to make sure that you have "time" off from work to leave town. This may not be practical for everyone,considering today's economical climate, but try to have at least 2 days worth if you can. If not make sure you have a safe place for your family to go to.
Where are we going to go? Well that is up to you. I advise that you head north. That sounds funny, but the state of Florida is not that wide. We have all seen the sat images of our state completely engulfed in a hurricanes bands. I live near the coast and have family that lives up to 60 miles inland.They have experienced all of the same problems that those on the coast have. If you chose a location, do so ahead of time. Trying to get a hotel room when the hurricane is 100 miles off shore is going to be like finding a needle in a hay stack. You may not find an open hotel room outside of a 6 hour drive! During hurricane charlie i had friends that did not find a hotel room till they were on the west side of Atlanta!! That is over 7 hours away and took them 12 hours to get there!! This is why you need those few extra days off from work and a plan already in place.
Make sure you have your plan written down and your family knows about it. Make sure you have a list of contact's, and their contact information. Make sure a few friends or family know where and what your plans are. This way your mom in Idaho isn't sitting in front of the TV watching the news to find out why you haven't called in 5 days and pulling her hair out!
Be ready to adapt. These storms change direction and cause other issues like tornadoes ,flooding and traffic jams.Make sure you stay updated and ready to change your plan if need be to stay safe. This plan B,should be pre planned and in your main plan. Going seat of the pants ,will cause some issues if you've already passed the plan onto loved ones or friends. If you decide to stay and shelter in place there are some things you need to do.
Getting ready for a hurricane is no different than any other preperations. You have a plan, your preps, and then you use them. You will want some basic supplies on hand. Again what works for me may not you.
Water. So far i have yet to see an interruption of water services during any of the hurricanes I have been through. This doesn't mean NOT to have a means of water on hand. Water is key to our survival. We can only live three days with out it. The general rule is 1 gallon per person per day. I aim for the 2 gallons of water per person per day. You have to remember that you have to bath,wash,clean dishes,etc as well. If your going to be doing a lot of outdoor work i suggest sticking with the 2-3 gallon a day per person mark.
Some may be asking how to store this water supply. The easiest is 1-2 gallon jugs from the supermarket. Now I'm sure there is some seasoned folks out there wondering why i said that. Well this blog entry isn't for guys like me or you. There is no reason to have to run out and buy 4 ,55 gallon water barrels to make if through a 3 day storm. I would suggest to get a 5-6 gallon "water can"/jerry can of sorts. This makes storing water easier than the 1-2 gallon jugs. Bottled water in flats( 24 to a case) also work well for the grab and go drinking you may be doing. Don't skimp on the water. If your becoming prepared for more than a hurricane then i would suggest a barrel and a main way to filter/treat your water along with redundant means of doing so. Personally I rely on portable backpacking filters,water treatment chemicals,and RO filters.I store my water in several 6 gallon "water cans" and 2 ,15 gallon water barrels.
Food. Yummy ,yummy in my tummy.
Food that is easy to prepare and doesn't require much power or fuel is best.For the most part a well stocked pantry will be enough food for those 2-3 days when the power may be out.But, you need to plan for longer outages. On avg. down here you will be with out power for 3 days, but plan for 14+. How does this affect your food plans? Ever try cooking soup on a stove with no power or gas? The easiest way to cure this issue is to purchase a propane stove/burner. They are easy to use,fuel is always in stock at stores( pre event)and can be very cheap to purchase. There are other methods and means but this options gives you a semi portable way of cooking and even boiling water if need be that is easy to use for the 1st time "outdoor" chef!
Foods that are best to have are shelf stable items. These can range from the numerous can goods in the local super mart, dry goods( rice/pastas for example) or MRE style meals.By far the can goods for the local store will be the cheapest and offer a good shelf life. Something that will help if you are building a "hurricane" specific kit or box. These food items can be stored till next season if they are not used. Remember two things with can goods.
A good can opener and to rotate the can goods into your pantry as the best by/exp. dates near their end.
One thing to do as well is to make sure you eat your food in the freezer /refrigerator 1st . I say this because , well , because i am cheap. I dont want my steaks,fresh veggies or what have you going to waste becuase of no power. Plus to be honest. When the power is out and you can make a nice grilled chicken breast, with grilled veggies with garlic toast in foil on your little propane grill. Then your better half and you may finally get that few minutes of " wow....we made it...." and relax before dealing with the next days powerless adventures!
No matter what fuel/cooking method you use, make sure you have your food preps in place well before the storm arrives. Like your plan, you should have all of what you need ,well before the storm makes landfall. From what I have witnessed over the years is, that once a landfall area is announced you may have 24 hours to find what you need. After that your fighting the masses for supplies. Tempers flare over bare shelfs, guards are let down because of fatigue and stress .There is no need to put your safety in jeopardy in order to get a flat of noodles in a cup or that last can of chili! Have the food items in place as well as your plan when hurricane season starts.
stay tuned for part 2