Hurricane Season 2014

Heather says:

The official start to Hurricane Season was yesterday, June 1, 2014. Last year I had so much happen that I feel very lucky not to have to had any hurricanes even pose a threat.

This year, I’m taking stock and getting ready, not because I expect a hurricane but because emergency preparedness is an important life skill and one of the many “shoulds” I couldn’t manage last year. Last year was about making sure I got the have-tos done.

You don’t need to have a category 3 hurricane hit your home to find yourself in need of a battery at 3am. (Smoke detector seek and find is never a fun game.)

Having a houseful of sick kids is plenty of reason to break into the stash of food set aside for a big storm rather than dragging them out and infecting the rest of town. At least I find it’s better for my sanity, anyhow.

The important part is to remember to replace what you used the next time you are out. Get into the habit of checking your blackout pantry (And while we’re talking about blackout pantries, you do have a manual can opener, right? RIGHT?)

The 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season isn’t looking too active, but it doesn’t take a particularly active year to send a storm your way. Here is a quick reminder of what getting ready for a big storm looks like:

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.) Oh and if you’re a NYC resident, there is a pretty cool resource called Know Your Zone that has important information relevant to your location and storm preparedness.

  • 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
    • rather than store lots of bottled water in my small home, I opt to keep an Aquapod on hand to fill.
    • 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 charcoal for your grill. And know how to use 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 nowhere else to go.
  • 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.
    • Own one, keep it in good condition, and have gasoline on hand.
    • Have sturdy work gloves.  Keep an extra pair with your emergency kit.
  • 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.

What do you do to get ready for hurricanes? Anything at all?

Do you have any questions, I’d love to read them -now that I have my email account working again- send them to helpme@home-ec101.com.



7 Comments

  1. Lizzy on August 1, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Batteries – Yes, you need to keep them around. Your bluetooth gizmos want them, remotes want them, inventory such stuff and see what sizes you need along with camping lights and radios. I’ve replaced remotes with a universal model and gotten almost everything onto AA batteries, easier to inventory and to remember at the store. This has worked well for keeping things running smoothly day to day, and in any pinch I know what to buy. Batt opp Xmas/ Fairy lights are great in a dark house, put them on the stairs and in bedrooms. A lot of light in a dark city. They eat batteries but it beats a broken neck. Or scared kids.

    Flashlights here are all LED AAs, they last forever! Small but big light.

    Spares need to live in one designated spot and everything battery needs to be checked for corrosion and battery life on the first of June. For hurricane country, pick your date in other regions.

    Batteries and light bulbs are my bette noirs. Hunting for spares makes me crazy, so I got organized. And it paid off in disasters.

  2. Lizzy on August 1, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    I’m New Orleanian, and have learned from the very worst. In fact I rode out a string of Cat 5s from 2005 to 2012 (?) (they blur a bit!)

    My big tip sounds silly until you’ve camped in place for weeks with no power, like Gustave in Baton Rouge, followed by Ike. Seriously, no power in SE Louisiana at all! I was living out of New Orleans cause my house was decimated… So I was G Zero for every other big storm.

    Coffee. Learn to make cold water coffee. Pound of ground coffee in cold water. soak over night, filter it. The gizmo for making it is best, and buying it at the store is better. I use it every morning, brewing one cup is silly when cold water brew tastes so smooth! It heats up in the microwave too. Add a shot to a cup of water, or less water plus ice. Doesn’t need milk cause it’s not bitter like a coffee machine.

    But this is why you want it. Cold water coffee concentrate can be made in bad situations, and is so smooth you can drink it black with ice. It lives in the ice chest, and ice is the first thing the National Guard brings in.

    Caffeine withdrawal is awful, nobody needs a brutal headache in high heat and no power. Not a time to go with out. And you will be regarded as The Neighborhood White Sorceress for having tasty coffee! Also good brewed with some cocoa powder for a mocha flavor.

    Sun tea will also get you along. I suggest you not make the abomination known as ‘sweet tea’. The high heat and stress of disasters doesn’t need a sugar jag, and it only exacerbates things. The idea is to maintain your caffeine needs. Which you need to keep minimal in summer heat anyway. You need to stay healthy and sharp but not cranked.

  3. ceci on June 10, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Here is a link for the Houston/Galveston area evacuation maps and surge zones.
    http://www.houstonoem.org/go/doc/4027/1080643/Hurricane-Evacuation

    http://www.wunderground has all kinds of surge maps for the entire east cost and gulf coast shorelines

    For pets, make sure you have a small container of food to take with you if you have to evacuate. My dog’s food comes in 35 pound bags – I’m certainly not going to lug the whole thing so at the beginning of June I put 3-5 days worth is a portable container with my emergency kit in case I have to evacuate. When I am ready to open a new bag of food, I use up the ‘stored stuff’ and add fresh. I also save two liter soda bottlers (or juice bottles, milk bottles, etc) to use for ‘pet’ water. There’s nothing wrong with filling those from the tap in advance as long as you change them out often. I just keep 5 or 6 empty bottles in the closet and if a storm is coming I fill them up. The aquapod is great if you know you will be staying in your house.

    In addition to gas for the grill make sure you have gas for your car. I try not to let mine go below 1/2 tank int he summers. No power means no gas stations – plus if a storm goes through the central gulf or near the refineries, the prices will shoot up.

    Get some small bills. ATMs dont work with no power. AFter Hurricane Ike the grocery store reopened with no power/cash only and they ran out of change very quickly becasue everyone had twenties from the ATM. I keep 50 in singles and 50 in fives with the emergency kit.

  4. jsallison on June 8, 2014 at 1:34 am

    I’ve not had happy experiences with small engines and gas that contains ethanol. If you keep a stash for your chainsaw, generator, whatev, it’d probably be a good thing to locate a source of ethanol free gas. And crank them up occassionaly to make sure they work, and you know how to work them.

  5. Alice on June 6, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Thanks for this, Heather! For pets, I’d add in:
    – check to find a list of pet-friendly hotels & motels in your area, or along the way to wherever you plan to go in case you need to stop along the way.
    – see if there are any pet-friendly shelters near you, and what they require (paperwork around vaccinations, carriers, etc). They also have helpful checklists for the water, food, etc. that you’ll need in general. You don’t want to have to use them, but you definitely want to know where they are!

  6. James Moffitt on June 2, 2014 at 8:25 am

    Heather, thank you for this timely reminder. I guess we need to start thinking about being prepared! I would love to share this post on our palmettocc.us site if that is ok.

    • Heather Solos on June 2, 2014 at 8:26 am

      You are more than welcome to share an excerpt 🙂

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