How To Prepare For a Hurricane After Effects
Walk into a grocery store right before a hurricane and you would think people believe they can survive on milk, bread and beer. While it is amusing sometimes to watch, it is also a reflection of the general state of awareness. People know they should prepare for a hurricane, but they don't really know how to prepare for a hurricanes' after-effects. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30 officially. Although this is the time most hurricanes form, they also develop outside of that six month time frame.
Many people opt to “ride the storm” out rather than evacuate to higher ground. They either believe it “won't be that bad” or they want to home to help protect their property. Some people simply don't have much of a choice but to try and weather the storm due to financial reasons. After all motels gas and dining out are an expense that sometimes cannot be gathered in less than 48 hours.
People who choose to stay home during a hurricane, or who have limited resources, prepare their property more than they prepare for the after-effects of a hurricane. Along with property damage and flooding, hurricanes take out power lines in a massive way. Sometimes it takes several weeks to get the power back on in some areas. After surviving Floyd, Isabel and most recently Irene here I can tell you that you can never be too prepared for the after-effects of a hurricane.
Prepare For a Hurricane – Essentials Box
The first thing to make sure you have on hand is some basic essentials. You can place these in a box specifically for your personal hurricane preparedness. Keep this box in a place where you can quickly access it when it is necessary.
1 battery powered radio. This helps keep you up-to-date on weather conditions during the storm. It's also a great way to get information after the storm until the power comes back on.
2-flashlights with extra batteries. I prefer Mag-Lites for their durability. It is a good idea to have at least two extra set of batteries for each flashlight.
1 manual can opener for opening food cans.
Small collection of tools to include 1 adjustable wrench, 1 pair of vise grips, 1 pair of pliers, 1 Phillips-head screwdriver, 1 flat-head screwdriver, 1 hatchet and 1 hammer.
1 package of disposable plates, cups and utensils
2 lighters or a box of matches
1 container of baby wipes. These are great for cleaning your hands before eating or even wiping your face off.
1 small first aid kit
2 bags of charcoal – You can still cook without power.
1 package of toilet paper
1 box of plastic trash bags
1 set of camping cooking utensils
1 metal coffee percolator
It is also a good idea to keep one large cooler on hand.
Prepare For a Hurricane – The Last Minute Grocery Store Trip
Heading to the grocery door is essential in the 48 hours preceding a hurricane. Be prepared for long lines and many irritable people. But instead of just grabbing quick snacks to hold you over for the next 24 hours, do a little planning. Anticipate being without electricity for a week. What are you and your family going to eat for seven days? It might sound drastic, but it is better to be prepared for the long haul than to not be and find yourself in a bind. Getting through without power is bad enough, but trying to do it while your stomach is grumbling is 10 times worse.
When planning for an extended power outage from a hurricane, you must think beyond perishable items. They are not going to last three days in most cases. At the same time, you must purchase foods that you and your family will want to eat. Again, being without power is bad enough. Here is a small list to help get you started and thinking about what is best for you and your family:
Hot dogs – They are good heated up or straight out of the package. Kids love them no matter what anyway.
Canned or vacuum packed chicken chunks
Instant coffee – Take advantage of your grill, charcoal, and percolator
Bread (2 loaves and 2 packages of hot dog buns)
Canned beans such as chili or pinto
Canned ravioli or spagetti
Sit down and create an “Emergency Menu” with a shopping list. Keep it on the refrigerator or in your recipe box. If the best case scenario has your power back on in just a few hours, you have food that you will still want to eat anyway.
Prepare For a Hurricane – Water
Water is one of those things people forget about when shopping for a hurricane. If you live in an area that uses well water, the water stops when the power goes off. If you live in an area that uses municipal water, you have to consider the possibility that service is disrupted or the water is contaminated briefly due to flooding.
Purchase at least 1 gallon of spring water per day for each individual. You can purchase store brand which is less than a dollar per gallon. Use the spring water for drinking, making Kool-Aid and tea, and cooking.
Fill the bathtubs with water when the hurricane approaches. Use the water in the bathtub to flush toilets if the power goes out. Scoop a bucket of water from the bathtub and pour it into the toilet bowl when it requires flushing.
Fill the sinks in your home with water at the same time you fill the bathtubs. Scoop sink water out as necessary with a small bucket for washing. No, it's not the best solution but it gets you by when there is no power.
Prepare For a Hurricane – Grilling
Too often people allow food in the freezer and refrigerator go bad when there is an extended power outage due to a hurricane. If you don't already have one, purchase an inexpensive charcoal grill. It doesn't have to be an elaborate grill masters grill. A simple box grill will suffice.
Start cooking perishable foods on the grill, if the power is out for an extended period. You should already have the charcoal on hand in your “Essentials”. The camping utensils are great for charcoal grills, as well as the coffee percolator. Once it has been a couple of days, start cooking foods that are in refrigerator before they go bad. Check the freezer items once a day, preferably in the morning. Plan on cooking foods that are beginning to thaw.
Prepare For a Hurricane – Luxury Items
There are some other things you can purchase well in advance of a hurricane. These are items that come with a price tag, but are well worth the investment when you need them.
Generator – You really only need one large enough to power a couple of appliances. Think essentials first like powering the refrigerator and the well water pump.
Solar cell phone charger
Solar laptop charger
Chainsaw – Trees blow over and you need something to do while you're waiting for the power to come back on anyway. Stay away from any downed power lines. You can also cut limbs and dry them out for an outdoor fire pit at night.
Preparing for a hurricane involves more than just making sure your windows are boarded up and loose items in the yard are put away. You must prepare for the effects of the hurricane long after it passes. A little planning goes a long way. These ideas can be used for any situation that results in a long-term power outage in your area.