Time for the Annual Hurricane Preparedness Reminder AND an Important Question for Readers of HE101

Heather says:

Let’s get the question out of the way:

I’ve been batting around the idea of writing The Home-Ec 101 Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Other More Likely Disasters. Is this something you’d be willing to purchase (it’d be self-published on Amazon)? I already have the outline done, it’s just a matter of applying my butt to a chair and writing it, if enough of you are interested. Let me know in the comments if this is something you’d enjoy.

And today’s reminder:

It’s June 1 and we’re kicking off the annual Atlantic hurricane season which runs through November 30. To make this year more interesting we’ve already had two named storms. In fact, my yard is currently drying out from the rain Beryl so graciously provided the Lowcountry of SC.

Yes, news and weather stations often saturate the media with predictions that get built up to a fever pitch that are then followed by underwhelming events. I get that. This doesn’t mean you can ignore common sense and not prepare for the possibility of a disaster.

They do happen.

Remember, if you see Jim Cantore, hightail it inland.

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 charcoal 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.
    • 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. Don’t be the goober that gets hurt sightseeing
  • 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[er] season!

Here are more emergency preparedness posts you may find useful:

[one_half]After the Japanese Quake, Thoughts on Preparedness

Stocking the Emergency Pantry [/one_half]

[one_half_last] Cooking Without Power, Using a Charcoal Grill

Creating a Blackout Pantry [/one_half_last]


  1. Lisa S on June 4, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    I am in Houston, TX, where we also have our fair share of hurricane activity.  I was laughing a little — article in our paper this weekend about a local man who was speaking about how they “survived” without electricity for 5 days following Hurricane Ike.  It was 2 weeks in our neighborhood (longer in others!) – the best part was how the neighbors and community came outside and shared and watched out for one another.  It felt like Mayberry for those few days.  But I was so, so thankful when one of the power companies from South Carolina showed up in our neighborhood to get our power on.  Thank you, South Carolina!  
    We’ve since replaced our electric stove with gas so we can cook.  A regular land-line corded phone works without electricity – that’s why we continue to pay for a land-line. The phones cost less than $10 at Sears.   And regarding the chain saw in rural areas … we’ve inner city Houston, and we had trees down all over the city.  Knowing how to use a chain saw isn’t just a rural thing. 

  2. Danielle B on June 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    We are in Central PA.  Typically hurricanes don’t hit here.  (altho we get a lot of rain and have flooded  from the hurricanes turned tropical storms)  our main weather  threats are tornadoes.

  3. Cheryle on June 2, 2012 at 1:47 am

    That would be a very helpful book. I always dread the beginning of hurricane season.

  4. anne on June 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Please do write the book! Disaster preparedness is something I’ve been meaning to work on this year.

  5. ShaulNewman on June 1, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    I’d love to purchase it.

  6. carelessriver on June 1, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    “I’ve been batting around the idea of writing The Home-Ec 101 Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Other More Likely Disasters.”

  7. stark23x on June 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    YES YES YES. I will buy that book in a second. I have so many plans for every possible zombie/post-apocalyptic-world scenario, but I need more. Because I’m not gonna get et the first week. I want to survive long enough to get bored silly by the apocalypse.

  8. bookchick on June 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    COSTCO (and probably Sam’s/Trader Joe’s, etc) sells emergency food kits for a couple hundred dollars. I think the one I got was 4 days rations for 4 adults, mostly either freeze-dried or canned stuff.

  9. bookchick on June 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Oh and I would totally buy that book.

  10. bookchick on June 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    When you get cash make sure you have SMALL BILLS (i.e. 1’s and 5’s). Trust me when you go to the grocery store with 50 singles you will be the most popular person there becasue everone will have hit the ATM right before the storm and have 20’s and the cashiers will not be able to make change

    In addition to knowing what you will do with your pet if you have to evacuate, make sure you have food and water for them as well. I usually buy the ‘small’ *8 lbs usually* bag of dog food and then if I need to leave with him I don’t have to lug a 35 lb bag with me. If you keep it sealed in a cool dry place it will last for the entire hurricane season and after that you can just rotate it in.

  11. janlnye on June 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Also, look at moving north or south for evacuation. Every one tends to head inland (west in my case) and the roads are jammed.

  12. AuntMarti on June 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    I would definitely buy your Zombie Apocalypse book — I used to be the Disaster Prep officer in my Air National Guard unit!  Our family jokes about Jim Cantore showing up being a bad thing, too.

  13. carnellm on June 1, 2012 at 11:58 am

    First, of course the book would sell. I would buy it!
    Now, you forgot backups!! Please backup your computers and records. Your house may survive the hurricane itself even, but how about the rains? If it gets broken in to? Maybe you house just leaks – directly onto your computer.  Or you take it with you, and all that moving around and transporting kills the hard drive? What are you going to do.
    Please, back up!! Not to be self promoting, but if you are not sure about backing up, please read this… http://www.michaelcarnell.com/3-2-1-backup/

    • HeatherSolos on June 1, 2012 at 11:59 am

       @carnellm both you and Jared Smith have carte blanche when it comes to self-promotion here. I cannot thank you enough for all the help you have given to make Home-Ec101.com run smoothly over the years. 

      • carnellm on June 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm

         @HeatherSolos  Jared Smith Really? You mean I can freely post all the quotes I have of you saying “interesting” things? And the pictures I have of you from all the geek-events. And after-events?

        • HeatherSolos on June 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm

           @carnellm  Jared Smith no. You have carte blanche for SELF-PROMOTION. Last I checked, *I* am not you.

  14. SouthernFriedTech on June 1, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I would definitely buy the book, Heather. I would also like it in an e-book reference format…I could have it with me in case of emergency.
    Also–I understand if this is outside the scope of the book–I would love to have in the same book a basic, 9th grade science explanation of what is going on weather wise during different storms. My theory is that if I understand that x is happening because of y, then I will be able to make common sense decisions about the safest thing to do at any given moment. It’s kind of hard to explain, but here’s an example. As kids, we were herded into the hall during tornado drills whilst the teachers opened windows to keep them from blowing out. Turns out, that wasn’t the right thing to do. I KNOW this info is everywhere on the internet ad infinitum, including the authoritative government sites. But its disjointed, poorly written, and rarely if ever explained. I would love to have the Heatherized version!
    Once again, a great idea in the works!

    • HeatherSolos on June 1, 2012 at 11:36 am

       @SouthernFriedTech thank you! I look at my “job” as taking information that, while available, is: too full of scientific jargon, too dull, factually incorrect, dangerous, or misleading and turning it into a digestible and occasionally enjoyable reference under the broad topic of life skills. 

    • bookchick on June 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      @SouthernFriedTech: The idea was that if you left windows open during a tornado (or hurricane) that it would decrease the pressure somehow and keep the storm from blowing your roof off or your house down. The opposite is actually true – by leaving the window open you allow the winds to come into your house – but since they blow mainly from one direction there is no where for them to exit so they ‘exit’ by blowing the roof off your house

  15. JayMonster on June 1, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I would most certainly buy it, as while I am (I believe) fairly well prepared for the types of events that are possible here (Since I am near the highest point for miles, flooding is not a real concern for me), some outside advise from a trusted source is always a welcome “tool” to have.
    This spring we picked up individual water “pouches” from a preparedness site for consumption purposes (I also have some gallon bottles for other needs), as these are easier to deal with, don’t require cups and keep the water fresh until you are ready to consume it.  Plus, they stay fresher longer and require less rotation (since they are designed for this purpose they have a shelf life of 5 years) than standard water bottles.
    We also always keep lamp oil and have 2 oil lamps (one indoor with standard oil and one outdoor with cintronella infused oil).  For long periods without light, candles can become messy.  Oil lamps require less work and put out more light than a couple of standard candles (if you go with something like a Coleman lantern, you could get the equivalent of more than 900 candles, but that is a bit more extreme than I wanted).
    In a real pinch for light, you can make your own “lamp.”  What you will need is a paper clip or wire that you can bend so it will act as a base with one part sticking straight up.  Cover the part that stands up with some sort of fabric or twine (again, considering this as an emergency source, a piece of shoelace works very well also).  Fill the container until you are almost at the top of your “wick” (do not submerge it) with Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil.  Light the “wick”  The oil burns nice and slowly and will provide a source of light and even a bit of heat (caution: the oil and most likely the container will get HOT so be careful about where you place it or what you place it on.
    And I second your toast to a disaster free season.

    • HeatherSolos on June 1, 2012 at 11:20 am

       @JayMonster that last tip reminds me of the button lamp described in the Little House on the Prairie series.

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