Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hurricane season

     Hurricane season starts on 1 June.  When I lived in Florida [before Texas] I had a journal that I started the first year I moved back to Florida.  2001.  Each hurricane season, I would pull out my journal, and every named storm that hit the Gulf Coast I would create a page of lessons learned.  As the years went by, the lists became shorter as I became more 'hurricane wise.'  This year... I'm sure my Hurricane Journal is still in an unpacked box, but the lessons learned remain memorized.  I'm also adding to the list based on my friend Lori's experience last year when she lost everything in a tornado.  Hurricanes often spawn tornadoes both before and after they hit, and not necessarily in their direct path.

  1. Be sure to have a camping lantern in every bedroom closet, and a flashlight in each nightstand drawer and the kitchen's 'junk' drawer.  Be sure to have new batteries in every lantern and flashlight at the beginning of the season.  Lanterns and flashlights that don't work, won't help.
  2. Stock up on candles AND lighters.  Candles tend to be useless if you can't light them.
  3. Each month of hurricane season, buy four gallons of bottled water.  Recycle the gallons in the pet's water bowls, on house plants, or use for making coffee or tea each month so that I always had fresh water (and because sometimes the jugs would leak).  If we were anywhere in the triangle of a named storms path, make sure I had two gallons of water for each pet and person in the house.
  4. Always have a hurricane kit that included chemicals for making potable water, a first aid kit, and for each person a rain poncho, heavy work gloves, rain boots, extra socks and sweats (wet clothes can make you chilled fast at night even in the summer, and so having something dry to wear is a plus - not to mention if injured it will help prevent shock).
  5. Stock up on dry and canned foods that can be eaten without needing to be heated or chilled.
  6. Don't forget extra dog and cat food.
  7. Especially don't forget a hand crank can opener.  See #1 and #2.
  8. If possible, have an extra week of any required medications in your kit for any people or pets that need them.
  9. Invest in a weather alert radio that can run on batteries.  Check to see if it can be coded to your local alert area.
  10. Always have at least one phone that does not require electricity to run.  Ugly Princess Trimline phones are invaluable when the power is out because they will still work if the phone lines are not down and you can call for help or let family know you are safe.  Charge cell phones every night, and be sure to have names and addresses of ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts identified on cells, and in an address book in the hurricane kit.
  11. Make sure pet's microchips are updated with phone numbers and contact names.  Get harnesses for all pets that can be leashed.  A panicked dog can quickly pull out of a simple collar, but not as easily out of a harness.  Have travel carriers for every animal small enough to fit into one.
  12. Every payday beginning in May, stash away $100 in small bills.  When the power goes out, ATM machines won't work, and having cash can come in handy for buying supplies or food.  If by the end of the season you haven't had to use any of it, you've just saved for your Christmas shopping.
  13. If told to evacuate ... LEAVE.  Especially if you are in a flood zone or if the hurricane will be greater than a Category 3.  Have a plan in advance of where to go, whether to family, friends or a nearby hotel.  Be sure pets are allowed if you have pets.  Please don't leave them behind to fend for themselves.  If necessary, leave a day or two in advance of expected landfall to avoid traffic and getting caught on the road during the worst of the storm.
  14. Don't let the gas tank in the car get below a half tank during hurricane season.  During mandatory evacuations, everyone will be trying to fill up or top off and there may be lines or no gasoline available.  If you can get at least 75 miles away you may find it easier to fill up the tank than be waiting in line only to find out that there is no gas when you get to the pump.
  15. If you are staying home during a storm and are not under mandatory evacuation orders, know the safest place in your home to be during a tornado.  Buy a helmet of some kind for each person in your home to wear if you have to take shelter.
    Regardless of where you are, whatever natural weather disaster your area is prone to (in California we had earthquake kits), the key to surviving is planning ahead.  Be safe in every season.

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