These are my personal tips for the upcoming hurricane season… these tips will help you in any disaster, but YMMV depending on a variety of circumstances.
Hurricane Preparedness and Being Prepared For Any Disaster
Disasters whether they are natural or manmade will have certain commonalities. Regardless of the disaster, it will likely have an effect on the infrastructure of your community or the nation as a whole. Therefore, you and your community will experience power disruptions, supply chain disruptions, communication outages and you may not be able to evacuate the danger zone by vehicle. There are disasters that can strike without warning such as earthquakes and acts of terrorism. However, most weather related emergencies are predictable, such as tornadoes, floods and hurricanes. Anyone living in areas prone to hurricanes know the importance of not only preparing yourself but your home and possessions, as well.
Information and Preparation Is Key to Surviving a Hurricane
You know what a storm surge is if you live near a coastline. Additionally, you must know if your home and property is vulnerable to a storm surge. A storm surge is abnormally high waves that are generated by high winds (National Weather Service, 2012). Visit the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center to assess your community or home’s storm surge risk. Keep in mind a hurricane watch means a hurricane is possible within 24 to 36 hours, a warning means a hurricane is expected to make landfall within 24 hours.
You and Everyone Else
People, due to economics or simple procrastination, tend to put off preparations until they know a disaster is headed their way. Procrastination creates its own set of problems for you, your neighbors and your community. Once a hurricane is predicted retail stores run out of supplies within hours, the home and garden centers are overwhelmed by people buying plywood and other materials and traffic accidents increase in the area.
You Are Preparing For the Expected
Information is essential during hurricane season, so know where to go for the latest updates such as radio and television broadcasts. Prepare now so you are assured of getting the supplies you need. If you live an apartment building or trailer home, it is highly probable you will have to make alternative living arrangements leading up to, during and after the storm. Know the evacuation routes and drive them to become familiar with the highway. If you own your own home, you can purchase plywood to cover all openings and trim overhanging branches and shrubs to reduce wind damage. Once you know a storm is coming and you plan to stay in a motel, hotel or some other rented space, reserve the space as quickly as possible.
Place any outdoor furniture inside your garage or storage shed. Furniture that is tossed about by the wind can damage your home and will surely damage the furniture. Make sure your vehicle has a full fuel tank in the event you must evacuate. Let neighbors and the authorities know if possible whether you plan to stay or evacuate. Gather important documents, place them in a waterproof bag or container and carry them with you if you do evacuate. Have cash on hand for traveling because credit cards services may not be accessible because of power disruptions. Ensure your cell phone is charged at all times and your emergency radio has fresh batteries. Inventory all medications to ensure you have enough for several weeks.
Know where the main gas line shut off is to your home. Shut the gas line off whether you plan to stay or leave. Damage from the storm can rupture the gas line. Make sure there are not any hazardous materials stored in or near your home such as extra cans of fuel for vehicles, lawnmowers or yard tools. Ensure there are no flammable materials stored near your hot water heater. If possible, secure your hot water tank to prevent it from toppling over. Make sure any boats stored outside are properly secured. A storm surge can lift and carry your boat back out to sea if it is not properly anchored.
First, you have to realize that there are hardships ahead. You may have to do without electricity for days and possibly even weeks. Your water may be contaminated from line breaks or the water treatment plant may be off line and your tap water has not been properly treated. Cell phones and computers will be inoperative in many cases. You will need alternative means of cooking, you must know how to purify water to make it safe to drink and you will not have refrigeration. You may have to do emergency repairs to your home to make it safe.
The aftermath is just the beginning. However, preparations can make the days after, less daunting. Regardless of the disaster, you are preparing for; everyone should have a survival kit that can be used in any survival situation. Consider these rules of survival when preparing a survival kit, called the rules of three. You cannot survive longer than three minutes without air, longer than three hours without shelter, longer than three days without water and you cannot survive longer than three weeks without food.
Clean air, shelter, water and food. These are the essentials to sustain life. In today’s fast-paced environment, people are convinced they cannot survive without certain items, and they may be right to some extent. However, a natural or manmade disaster will change the environment in which everyone lives. Cell phones, computers and possible even vehicles will be inoperative, and in certain situations, electronics and espresso machines will be just so much clutter under foot.
Preppers or people who prepare for an eventual doomsday have specific scenarios in mind. One may believe it will be a financial collapse and currency will no longer have purchasing power. Others believe it will be a massive earthquake or even a volcano and still others believe in rogue nations attacking. Preppers stockpile food, energy, weapons, clothes and any number of other items that they deem necessary during and after the crisis.
The biggest drawback to stockpiling at home is what happens when you have to evacuate your home or shelter or your home is damaged to the point where you cannot retrieve your supplies. Additionally, many people find themselves in a survival situation while away from home. For example, your vehicle may run off into a ravine in a remote part of the country, a day hike can turn into a nightmare because of an injury or you simply become lost. Hikers, campers, mountain bike riders and cross country skiers can all can end up fighting for survival because of a sudden weather event such as a flooded campground or an unexpected blizzard. A survival pack that contains items and equipment that allows you collect and purify water, start a fire, hunt and or fish, and make a shelter, can be a lifesaver.
The following list is by no means comprehensive. It must be adapted to individual needs. Adaptation would include an extra set of eyeglasses, ample supply of prescription medication and any medical devices that you or a family member needs. The items are designed for any survival situation. The survival kit is in addition to the normal items and supplies you would carry, or stockpile at home. The list has been adapted to include items needed during and after a severe weather event such as a hurricane. It is also recommended that each member of the family or group have their own survival kit with identical items in the packs. This ensures each member can survive if separated from the group or family. Make sure you and each member is familiar with each item and knows its purpose. Practice and know the limitations of your equipment.
- First Aid Kit That Include Needles And Suture Thread For Wounds And A Quality Antiseptic For Cleansing Wounds *
- Multi-Purpose Knife *
- Heavy Fixed Bladed Knife *
- Sheet Of Clear Plastic For Water Collection *
- Camp Ax With Hammer Head For Personal Evacuation *
- Small Sledge Hammer For Personal Evacuation
- Gloves For Hand Protection *
- Bright Colored Cloth For Signaling Rescue Personnel *
- Two Vials Of 2% Liquid Iodine With Dropper For Water Purification *
- Fire Starting Tools (Do Not Rely Solely On Matches) Magnesium Stick With Striker *
- Dust Masks Or Surgical Masks For Protection Against Dust And Other Airborne Particles
- 14 Day Supply Of Water For Home And Individual Water For Packs Each Person Requires One Gallon Of Water Daily
- 14 Day Supply Of Food That Does Not Need Preparation
- Emergency Reflective Heat Blankets *
- Battery Operated Lights
- Rain Suits And Or Poncho *
- Water Proof Ground Cloth *
- Sturdy Shoes To Protect Feet From Glass And Other Debris
- Safety Goggles For Use During Evacuation
- Tools And Materials In The Home For Emergency Repairs
- Fishing Line *
- Fish Hooks *
- 550 Paracord Or Suitable Nylon Rope *
- Light Gauge Wire *
- Small Stainless Steel Bowl For Food Preparation And Boiling Water *
- Coffee Filters And Or Activated Charcoal *
- Several Medicine Droppers Or Commonly Referred To As Eyedroppers
- Liquid Gel Fuel
- Emergency Battery Operated Radio
- One Gallon Of Unscented Household Bleach With 5% Percent Chlorine
- Plain White Candles
The * indicates items that will also be included in a survival pack that is to be carried with you at all times. The pack should be carried on day hikes, bike rides, camping trips and in your vehicle. Matches are unreliable, and you should always have an alternative means to start a fire.
Quick Tips on Water Purification
Water can be made safe to drink by boiling, adding 2% percent liquid iodine or by using 5 % chlorine bleach unscented, which is common household bleach.
Water that has obvious debris, sediment or insects in it must be filtered before purification. You can use coffee filters or make a charcoal filter by boring a small hole in the bottom of a clean food service can. Make charcoal from burning hardwoods only or use activated charcoal. Once the wood has charred well remove from the fire and smother the wood with ash or sand to stop the burning. Once the charcoal has cooled rinse well and crush into the can. Pour the contaminated water over the charcoal; it will filter out the hole in the bottom. Collect the water in a clean vessel for boiling or chemical treatment. Water must rapid boil for at least one minute, let cool before drinking.
Purifying Using 2% Liquid Iodine
The ratio is five (5) drops of iodine per one quart of water. Filter the water as described before purification. Shake the container well and allow 30 minutes before drinking. Always filter from the contaminated dipping vessel into a clean container. The dipping cup or bottle will have contaminates around the drink line.
Purifying Using 5% Chlorine Bleach
Collect and filter as described. The ratio is two (2) drops of bleach per one quart of water. Shake well and allow 30 minutes before drinking. Do not use the iodine dropper to purify water with bleach and never mix bleach or iodine together. Use one or the other to purify and never mix to purify any one batch of water.
National Weather Service. (2012, June 8th). Retrieved June 22, 2012, from National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge/risk/