Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Prep 101: Things Probably Not Found On the Government Website

Hurricane Sandy is making her presence known on the East Coast, the effects of her felt from Kentucky to Canada, an area not as used to preparing for a hurricane as we are in the Deep South.  Preparations should have already been made for the big blow, bottled water having already disappeared from the shelves of most retailers.  There's a little more to getting ready, though, that you might not be aware of besides the basics.  This is just a quick post, not meant to cause panic, but to help you and your property survive well.

A category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale has winds from 74 to 95 miles per hour.  These are the winds that blow constantly.  There are few lulls in the wind - it rattles and moves everything in the hurricane path at this speed -- allllll the time.  Wind gusts above those of 74- 95 mph occur as well.  Lawn furniture, grills, yard tools, garbage cans;  everything outside needs to be secured in a shed or brought in a garage.  What can't be moved needs to be tied to something substantially larger.  I've several skiens of ski rope that are used for the specific purpose of securing The Fellows jet go cart to the tree by the shed in the backyard.  Swings, plants, yard art, etc. all have the potential to become projectiles when hurricane winds blow.  You keep your family and neighbors safe by making sure your outdoor stuff doesn't end up stuck in the side of their dwelling.

Water.  You have a supply of bottled water for a few days.  Are you going to cook and use that water?  Make coffee or tea or koolaid?  What happens if the purification plant for the city water goes out?  If Sandy has the far reaching effect predicted you may run out of bottled water.  Potable (drinkable) water can be made by the addition of 2 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water.  Let it sit for 12 hours.  Several of the prepper/survival sites have said that 1/8th of a teaspoon can be added to a gallon of water and used immediately.

I've a supply of empty five gallon buckets that I'll put under the drip line of the roof and let fill with rain water, bringing them in (yep - blowing wind and all to retrieve them) as they fill.  After a pass through the Brita filter for suspended particles, the water is treated with bleach and tadadaaaaaa, potable!

Those five gallon buckets of rain water are also handy for keeping clothes hand laundered (it's my big OCD thang) and toilets flushed.  Mama has a well at her house.  We scrub her bath tub and fill it with water before the electricity goes off so she can have an uninterrupted water supply.

Laundry.  Wash and dry everything you can up until you can't any more.  You've no idea if you'll lose power or not and you'd be surprised how quickly the dirty clothes start accumulating once the washing machine can't work.

Cell phones.  Do you have a spare battery?  Get it in the charger.  I've an old Nokia phone so I don't know, but I understand that music, games, and the internet sap energy quickly from smart phones.  Reserve that precious battery life.      If you're in the middle of a hurricane, keeping up with how everybody else is doing on FB is not tantamount to talking to family once it's all over with.

Tarps and duct tape.  When Isaac came through a couple of months ago, I added to my hurricane preparations a half-dozen inexpensive painters tarps.  Most home insurances will pay for hurricane damage but won't pay for possessions lost because of water damage inside the home as a result of a tree punched through the roof.  Painter's tarps are large in size and can cover much with a good band of duct tape around the perimeter to hold the tarp on, keeping possessions from heavy water damage.

If you've a freezer mostly full of food, fill every inch of freezer space with bags of ice and DON'T open the freezer until absolutely necessary.  Turn the setting to the coldest possible.  Foods will stay frozen for two to three days in a loaded freezer.   When ours started thawing, it was a simple matter of cooking it and feeding it whoever would eat to keep the food from wasting.  I despise food waste, especially after laboring diligently to get it in the freezer, but knowing it can be consumed somehow makes the thought of a freezer full of thawed food not quite so bad.  Soups and stews can feed a bunch of friends and neighbors.

Toilet paper.  It never fails.  You've purchased the 12 pack of toilet paper so you're feeling pretty good about that.  And then someone in the house develops a stomach virus or has a bad case of nervous stomach.  You'll need extra toilet paper.  I swear, it happens every time.

You all have flashlights and batteries for them, but what about emergency lighting? Flashlights aren't meant to be turned on and left on.  Do you have candles or oil lamps or Coleman lanterns?  The stubby emergency candles are all probably gone from the shelves now, but ANY light will do, scented candles and all, to keep little ones and adults calm in unfamiliar darkness.  Speaking of candles... how 'bout something to light them with?  Lighters won't reach all the way down in your favorite jar candle.  Matches are needed.

Irreplaceable photos and artwork need to be put in ziplock or garbage bags and then put in a big plastic tub. Not everything - just the things that can't be replaced. Take them out as quickly as its safe.  Irreplaceable photos and artwork don't store well in tubs.

Gather health, life, car, and home insurance policies in one place.  Just in case.  I've a zippered binder with those documents plus an extensive list of phone numbers and addresses of friends and family.  Just in case.

Now that I've hastily put together a list of things you may or may not have thought about, you need to know one more thing:  the wind will blow.  It will blow and blow and you'll begin to think it will never end as it howls through every crack and crevice in your dwelling.  And it will rain hard blowing rain driven by hurricane force winds.  It's unsettling -- all that wind and rain.  It will pass, leaving one big mess of an aftermath to deal with.  Keep your wits about you.  It does no one any good to become hysterical.

Ice storms, driving in snow, hurricanes, and dentists have all served to help me get over my fears and become a strong parent for my sons.  Sandy is not that strong of a hurricane, just a big one hitting an area unaccustomed to hurricanes and complicated by two other merging weather fronts.  You can deal with fear.

I guess that's about it.  It's not an exhaustive list by any means - just a small one compiled from life experience.  I wanted the folks dealing with Sandy that stop in here at Mayree's to know I'm thinking about y'all, praying for your safety.  If you want to get completely out of the way, I've three empty beds and a front porch begging visiting.  Come on...


  1. Hi Mayree,
    I was reading this post on the night of the storm and wanted to compose a comment that night, but shortly thereafter our electric power went out. Ha Ha.If someone ever asks , where were you when the lights went out. My answer, at home sitting at my computer reading blogs.
    As a rule, we always have two big flashlights at our bedside, ( that's the Girl Scout upbringing with the motto , "Be Prepared".
    As I worked the weekend prior and the Monday of the storm , I did not have that much time to do all the things, like fill up the bathtub or washing machine with water. However, I liked your suggestion of the water and bleach.
    Our power was out for six days, so even though , we put ice filled water bottles as extra, "When in doubt, throw it out, Zing***, there was a lot of food to bee flung into the old trash bags.

    By the way, Mayree, the Wind did blow and howl. And keeping in mind what you had written, I stayed calm.Yes, your words in this post. That evening, I sat on the sofa with a mini book-light and pen and loose-leaf notebook paper, and began to write my story.

    1. Thank you so very very much for taking the time to reply. Written hastily the day before landfall, I didn't know if folks would have the chance to read it, much less take it to heart. That you were prepared for the wind is the best thing ever! If a soul can keep calm, I believe it can survive anything. Thank you, again, for this comment!