Hurricanes, Tropical Storms, Power Outages: Tips On Preparing For Natural Disasters
Living on the east coast means lots of hurricanes and tropical storms. In many cases, hurricanes can be deadly but there are ways to prepare and safeguard yourself from a potential life threatening situation. Hurricane season can be one of the scariest times of the year. The Atlantic hurricane season officially last from June to the end of November but there have been cases of hurricanes and tropical storms falling outside this 6 month time period. While Florida and the Caribbean islands get hit the worse, the east coast and New England area can also fall victim to the destruction. How exactly do you prepare for a hurricane? What can you do?
Aside from owning a fallout shelter, there's not much you can do to protect your home. In some cases, boarding up your windows may be your only option in protecting your home from flying debris.
When hurricane Andrew hit, I remembered seeing many fallen trees and flying debris. The aftermath was shocking. Now that I'm older, I have learned to prepare myself better during such storms.
In most tropical storms and hurricanes, I expect to stay indoors for a weekend. It's always a good idea to have at least 2 weeks of food and water at home. Don't always rely on perishable foods. I remembered hurricane Andrew left us without electricity for 4 days. Try to keep a supply of dry foods in case the gas or electricity goes out.
Buy Flashlights and Lanterns
Another good idea is to buy a few lanterns and lots of fresh batteries. My house recently lost electricity for the past 3 days and having a good source of light made this a little less uncomfortable. Strong winds can and have knocked down power lines shutting off electricity to dozens of city blocks. I strongly suggest buying C or D-celled LED lanterns. These larger batteries lasts longer than standard AA and the LED's help with efficiency. We have cats and we decided not to get candles and oil lanterns. That's another thing to consider. If you have pets, you might want to choose a battery light source in case they bump into them in the middle of the night. The last thing you want to deal with is a fire. Try to stay away from the "crank" flashlights/lanterns. They convert your mechanical energy into light. That may sound good on paper, but the results advertised are almost always inflated. My sister purchased a crank lantern and she only got a minute of burn time with 30 seconds of cranking. Believe me, when you don't have electricity, you want to save as much energy as possible. Admittedly, not such a good source of light, that emergency lantern also had a radio built in that couldcome handy if the national broadcast system goes into effect.
Buy a Radio
Speaking of the National Broadcast System. Get a radio and plenty of batteries. It's important to have a reliable source of news in case the electricity goes out. The radio can update you on the current situation. This is crucial to getting the latest updates on the storm and in case an evacuation order is issued. Following news on the radio is very important.
Prepare For Flooding
Prepare for rain. It is always raining during hurricanes and tropical storms. Sometimes, it even hails. Lots of rain means potential flooding. The last flash flood that hit RI took out Warwick's commercial zone. The mall was heavily damaged and the federal government even issued compensation during that previous tax season. Rain is not necessarily a big deal, it's the flash floods that you have to worry about. Don't expect to go out during a hurricane and don't be surprised to see area flooding. If you get caught in an area flood, remember to remain calm and call 911. Fire departments will do their best to assist in these situations. In extreme emergencies, the national guard might get called in to help.
Charge Your Phone
Make a habit of keeping your cell phones charged. Even if it is fully charged, keep it plugged in. That way, you'll sure to get the most life out of it if the power goes out. Most cell phones only last about 1 to 3 days depending. Smart phones generally last only 1 full day. Keep this in mind. Turn down the screen brightness. Close all unused apps. Do whatever you can to save battery.
Bug Out Bags
The last thing that you should do is create a BOB or "bug out bag". A BOB is a bag full of essentials popularized by hikers and survivalist. A bug out bag is the ultimate survival kit. There are no set rules as what you can put in a BOB but generally, people include a small first aid kit, some rope, some non perishable foods, bottled water, a knife/multi-tool, some flashlights, a radio and some spare batteries. Some other things that may be considered are clothing, cash, firearms, and fire starters. Setting a BOB is good planning. In an emergency, instead of running to the store scrambling to get all your gear, just grab your bug out bag and be ready. If you do decide to build a BOB, remember this important tip: Do not take anything out of your BOB!
Sometimes, when people set up BOB's, they take 1 or 2 things out of it in times where it may be more convenient. Don't do this. When you do this, you will forget to return or replace the item(s) that you took out. You may even rationalize it or say to yourself, "I'll put another bottle later." Then when a real emergency hits, you're missing a bottle of water, or some food. Treat your BOB as if it doesn't exist but don't forget about it!
In 1953, the National Hurricane Center officially started naming hurricanes. Originally, hurricanes were only named after females. No reason was given. Perhaps hinting a metaphor and I'll leave it at that. In 1979, male names were adopted into the mix. The first hurricane of the season always starts with the letter "A", then "B", and so on. Note that a few letters are excluded in the naming process like "Q" and "U"
The "gender" of the hurricane alternates. For example, the most recent hurricane is "Earl" and the next one will be named "Fiona". There is a list of names and they get reused every 6 years. Some names are changed for example, "Ivan" was replaced by "Igor". Sometimes, hurricane names are retired. If a hurricane is particularly destructive and damaging, the name is retired due to the sensitivity surrounding the reuse of that name. 2 examples of this is hurricane Andrew of 1992 and hurricane Katrina of 2005.
These are some of my tips on how to prepare for a hurricane. Take these advice for what they are, advice. Remember to always use common sense. Thanks for reading!