This week so far has been one for the books:
Multiple earthquakes, on the west coast, the Rockies, and on the east coast.
A hurricane that threatens to hit the coast of North Carolina by the end of the week and make landfall in New England by the end of the weekend.
So, as a ‘just in case’ thinking process (and it’s almost too late), I combed through the posts and came up with these:
anxiety reduction party one
But also, I just want to remind readers in the Northeast and in eastern Canada who might never have experienced this before, even if you don’t get a direct hit from a hurricane, you are still in danger of damage from wind and heavy rain and if you are at the coasts, we are talking major flooding, I think.
Again, if you have never experienced anything like this, you have several really important things to think about in the next 24-48 hours.
How close you are to the coast? How low-lying is where you are currently located? These are two separate issues. For folks in coastal areas, you are exposed to a lot more danger in terms of the hurricane itself and need to make sure you are familiar with evacuation preparations, especially if you are in locations such as Long Island where evacuation routes are limited. For those folks are away from coastal areas, the issue for us is how low lying we are and the possibilities for flooding. For many of us, even without a hurricane, we would get flooded if several inches of rain fell within one hour. Trust me on this one – if you already have those sorts of problems, it’s time to make arrangements now…not Sunday afternoon.
If you had to evacuate, what is the highest point within 10-15 minutes drive? If you have friends with whom you can camp out in their livingroom who are located at a high point, give them a call and make arrangements NOW. Offer to bring a cooler full of food, ice, bottled water, flashlights, battery lantern, fresh batteries, clothing, a bag of charcoal or a cylinder of LP for their grill, battery powered radio sleeping bags whatever you have for the stay. Pack an ‘entertainment bag’ – books, coloring stuff, paper, and games. Even if you don’t have kids to bring with you, sitting in the dark with a laptop with a dead battery is not a way to spend this time. Think of this as ‘if I was stuck on a desert island’ sort of thing – what would you take with you?
If you are situated on high ground and can stay home, here are few things to think about. If you have storm shutters (and I’d be surprised if you do – you probably have an old house and they are out in the garage someplace), get ‘em up…NOW. At the same time, you can still lose your power, which means that certain functions within your home will not be operational. As long as you keep the doors to a fridge or freezer closed, the food will stay in good shape for a day or two. After that, you will need to start cooking and eating it. If you have the chance, buy a couple of bags of ice and put those in the freezer; if you lose the power, you can transfer meat and other perishables to a cooler with the ice. For cooking (and of course, this is AFTER the storm has passed and you are still without power – everyone understands that, right?), I am a big advocate of outdoor grilling. Make sure you go into this with extra bags of charcoal that you can keep dry if you are using a charcoal grill or an extra cylinder of LP gas. Yes, it’s possible that it will not be considered chic in your neighborhood to cook outdoors – but trust me, if everyone loses their power, they will be in the same circumstances you are. Do NOT bring a grill inside the house. Period.
Do you have a battery powered radio? I realize this sounds hopelessly archaic but if you lose the power, you won’t be able to use a desktop and laptop batteries will only last a couple of hours. Having extra batteries is an absolute must, if only for flashlights and battery powered lanterns. Having a battery powered radio will allow you to access news and weather. Folks who are more technical can look into power inverters at places like Radio Shack and buy an extra auto battery to run items.
Water. If you live in the situation with a well and lose power, you will not have water to drink, cook with or flush the toilets with. Quick like a bunny, go to your local grocery store with a bakery operation and beg all the five gallon buckets with lids that they will give you. Wash and rinse them carefully and fill with water NOW, seal up and put into storage. Identify one toilet as the one that will get used and once your circumstances with the weather have settled and you know you have no power, park one of those buckets next to the toilet and instruct everyone to just do their thing and DO NOT FLUSH. Make one person responsible for throwing down a half a bucket twice a day to flush the toilet. Keep the buckets with water for cooking and drinking separate. If you have pets, make sure you get extra water for them, too. Barring the availability of extra buckets, buying some water at the store is a good idea.
Babies. If you have a baby or small kids in the house, you have a whole separate class of food and other care goods that you need to make sure you have several days worth of supplies in storage for them: formula and clean, sterilized water to make it up with, diapers, and so on.
At this time of the year, we only have to worry about flooding and power; we’re not in a situation where snow load or temperatures are factors.
The last time we faced anything like this was Hurricane Bob in 1991 – there are many many people who are now adults who do not remember this or have never experienced it, so we need to all take this very seriously and pay attention to whatever emergency management announcements are being made. Contact your county emergency management office and ask them for guidelines.
Stay safe. Stay dry. If any of my readers are from hurricane-prone areas – what works best for you guys? Here’s a list from the federal government which has many items that I did not even think about: readiness kit
(Amazing photo of Hurricane Jeanne from 2004 courtesy of Kakela)