June 1st marks the beginning of hurricane season. For those of us on the East and Gulf Coasts, we know this means anxious meteorologists glorifying every thunderstorm that appears in the oceans. Although the public tends to become jaded with media saturation, there is no reason to get caught with your pants down.
Hurricane Hugo was the landmark event of my childhood. Thankfully my family made it through safely with relatively little damage. I remember not only the storm, but the camaraderie that developed during the clean up. Everyone in my neighborhood pitched in, adults cleared downed trees and grilled defrosting meals. Older kids babysat and entertained the younger ones so the adults could work unhindered. I was only eleven, so my memories consists mostly of the awesome forts we were able to build with scavenged materials. I was too young to understand what a nightmare filing for damages or dealing with FEMA could be.
Here are some tips to be sure you and your family are safe should a storm make landfall. (Many of these apply to those living near fault lines or in tornado country who don’t have the benefit of prior warning.)
- Check your insurance coverage. Do you have adequate protection from both wind and water? Are they with the same or competing companies? Keep these documents in a safe, dry place and remember to bring them along if you must evacuate.
- Have enough food and clean water for each family member to last at least 72 hours.
- one gallon of water per person per day
- 2 drops of unscented Clorox bleach purifies one quart of water. This is a last resort if boiling is not an option. Let any particles settle out, filter using coffee filters, paper towels or a cloth, then add the bleach, stir or shake well, and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Your bleach must be at full strength, be sure to have a new, unopened bottle in your kit, rotate for a new one every three months.
- food should be ready to eat or require minimal preparation. Please don’t forget to have a manual can opener on hand. You may end up the most popular person on your block
- Have propane or gas for your grill.
- I’ve brewed coffee using a grill in the past. My neighbors loved me for it.
- NEVER use a grill indoors. The flames produce deadly, odorless carbon monoxide.
- Candles, batteries, flashlights, and a crank or battery operated radio are a must.
- Keep your gas tank filled at least half way at all times.
- Keep an emergency cash supply on hand, as ATMs do not work without power.
- Have an evacuation plan. Shelters are only for those in the most dire need, those who have no where else to go.
- I always make plans to high-tail it to Nashville and Ivy’s home when anything over a Category 3 appears in the Atlantic.
- Have a plan for Fido and Fluffy as well. Most shelters do not take pets, know what you are going to do before a warning has been announced. As a pet owner this is an important responsibility that is frequently overlooked.
- Have a well stocked first-aid kit.
- Keep all prescription medications filled and take them with you, if you must leave.
- If you live in a rural area, learn how to safely operate a chainsaw. This goes for you ladies, too.
- Keep it in good condition and have gasoline on hand.
- Have sturdy work gloves.
- Except for emergencies, stay put after a storm. Emergency personnel have enough to deal with: restoring utilities and rescuing those who were injured in the storm.
- Curfews may be established. Obey all law enforcement personnel.
- Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly.
- Remember snakes and other wildlife may become disoriented after a storm. Watch where you step and never put your hands where you cannot see when removing storm debris.
Here is hoping for a quiet season!