Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness

Every year we go on a family vacation. This year we all went to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Needless to say we’ve been watching the weather channel and checking the airlines to keep on top of the hurricane situation. We leave this afternoon to travel back to New Jersey and will get home ahead of the storm.
My daughter received an email from her former boss, an environmental specialist. It included a link to a blog. It has great emergency information and I've reprinted the blog here
Everyone, stay safe!
Hurricane Irene Aug 24, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness 2011: Smartphone Up!
The smartest thing you can get for hurricane preparedness is an off-grid charger for your cell phone.  A cell phone — particularly a smartphone — can serve as “find me” whistle, flashlight, information channel, family finder, and so much more.  Remember that smartphones especially have a short battery life.  This cannot be over-emphasized.  Nokero’s solar charger is good, see details here.  Or go to your nearest Sprint store or Whatever store or go to Best Buy and see what they have.
A serious hurricane in New England?  My father sat through a hurricane in 1938 that took down almost all the trees around Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire — where the family had a summer house.
EMERGENCY KIT From experience, then, the Sensible Yankee hurricane emergency kit includes basics.  You can get through just about anything with: 
-  two gallons of water (supermarket) 
your eyeglasses/contact lenses/sunglasses/reading glasses 
your meds 
a sleeping bag or blanket or warm winter coat, pillows are nice 
non-perishable food (eg, canned food with can opener, Twinkies, Powerbars) 
extra flashlights and batteries 
Swiss Army Knife
Online, it appears the government preparedness instructions haven’t changed much since 1938.
FEMA has you storing up “moist towelettes” (?), a dust mask (?), a NOAA Weather Radio (no one under 40 knows what that is) and traveler’s checks (what?).
Suggestion: start with phone and off-grid charger and our Sensible Yankee list, above.  Then add stuff from their list if you have an encyclopedia, historical reference guide, and a lot of time to identify dated items and shop at 12 different stores and wait in line at a bank for traveler’s checks (again, what?).
OVERNIGHT BAG: Pack, because you may need to evacuate or you may not be able to find your stuff under stress.  Pretend you’re going camping for 3 days and pack accordingly.  Include toothpaste, toothbrush, medications, vitamins, clothes; all the things you normally need.
If you’ve never been camping, pack as if you’re going to the wrong side of Detroit for three days and staying in a half-star motel with no fridge or running water.  Bring your own blankets, sheets & pillow.  Leave your strappy high-heeled sandals behind.
CHILDREN: If you have small children, and it’s not possible to travel to a safe place, then collect your gear and put it all in one place:  a safe, windowless room, as if you’re about the load the car for a 3 day camping trip.  Now you’re ready to evacuate if you need to, and you know where all your stuff is either way: your clothes, water, food, cookstove, candles or lanterns, etc. are all in one place.
Treat it like a fun camping-trip sort of adventure — kids often react to these things the same way you do.  For details and (you guessed it) a more extensive list of obscure stuff, see
FLYING GLASS: Most injuries in a serious storm come from flying glass and debris, usually puncture wounds.  This is one of those incredibly obvious things we don’t think of.  So:  during the actual storm, keep away from windows and exterior doors.  This is for real.  The basement or closet or bathroom is likely safest, e.g., rooms with fewest portals to the outside.
PETS: Put pet food, leash, an extra gallon of water, their favorite blanket, and their favorite chew toy in a plastic garbage bag — put it in the trunk of the car — with their crate — now or as close to now as you can.  We emphasize now because pet care is the easiest to ignore in an urgent situation and as a result causes the most heartache.  Don’t even flirt with it.  Here’s more from FEMA on pets — but we didn’t have time to read all that.
UTILITIES: If a serious hurricane is coming your way and you own your home or are responsible for your home, shut off your utilities.  Here’s how.
If you’re like most people under 40 who only read 40 words of any given web page and never read the manual:  get a neighbor to come over and show you how to shut off utilities.  People like to show off what they know and you get a custom lesson — you also get to find out what a monkey wrench actually is, and how to use one, which is kind of fun.
Junk in the trunk: On a preparedness note, if you’re not a New England native, you may not know this:  in northern winter months from September –> May it’s imperative to always have in your car anyway:
  •         a blanket or sleeping bag
  •          old but still functional hat, mittens, gloves
  •          old wool sweater, just in case
  •          an old (super-warm) coat you wouldn’t wear unless you had to
  •          at least one flashlight, loaded with good batteries, preferably two flashlights
  •          Swiss Army Knife (canopener, screwdriver, knife)
  •          water bottle (you may need to fill it)
  •          off-grid smartphone charger

Believe me, you’ll feel better having these things.
The truth is that if you have a cell phone and an off-grid charger, you can just call for help, company, or pizza delivery.


  1. Great post! Where I live, in central Georgia, we stay prepared for almost anything because we are *just close enough* to the Gulf and the Atlantic that a strong storm will affect us. (think Floyd, Ivan, and Katrina.) Given that we also live in the sticks, when we lose power we're the last to get it back. We keep the chainsaw ready to go as well, because if a tree falls across our road we have two choices: cut it up and move it ourselves, or wait a week for the county to get to it. We keep the tractor juiced so we can pull ourselves and neighbors out of the mud, and extra of everything since we live 45 minutes from the nearest Walmart. Nothing beats preparedness!

  2. Thanks for posting these very timely tips!

    Moist towelettes (like those disinfecting hand wipes you can buy that come individual packets) are good for washing your hands if the local water source is contaminated and you need to conserve bottled water for drinking and food prep.

    Dust masks (N95 rating) are good if there's a fire nearby that's putting a lot of soot in the air, or if a building collapses (like during 911) and there's a lot of dust hanging in the air. You probably won't need this one in a hurricane, but it could be good if you're digging through rubble in the aftermath.

    I do have an NOAA radio, which I bought through Amazon, but I've also seen inexpensive ones at Target. Mine was a little bit more but it also has a handcrank (no batteries needed) and can charge my cell phone.

    I think I would pass on the traveler's checks and instead have some cash set aside for leaving town in a hurry -- I wouldn't trust that a bank would be open if I needed to cash them, and I think a lot of businesses might be reluctant to take them. Maybe in earlier decades they were less of a hassle?

    Also, it's great to have some chips and granola bars or protein bars in your emergency stash. At home, you could find yourself without power for cooking, and if you had to evacuate, you could end up arriving in another town hungry after everything had closed.

    The Kaizen Plan: Take Control of Your Life 10 Minutes at a Time

  3. Thank you for posting this. I probably need to update the Y2K closet (LOL). I also need to get a NOAA radio like Lynn's.

  4. In honesty, try to take at least a weeks worth of clothes if you can fit it in. I remember for Katrina most people had only 3 days worth of clothes, yet they couldn't go back home for a month. You never know. Be perpared.

    And yes, pets, that is a huge problem. Most hotels won't take them. Try and book a room now so you won't be calling a ton of places at the last minute. Pet friendly places book fast.

    Don't forget your kids school books, etc. Contact the schools and see if they will have a place on-line to connect with them as well. They might have to hold school online. You never know.

    Bring all your important insurance papers, bills, bank info, etc. You might have to contact them as well.

    And cell phone service will be crazy. It was so hard to reach any of my relatives, so ask everyone to text each other. That was our only communication.

    That's all I can think of right now. Like FEMA said, buy plenty of water, candles, batteries, a generator if you can. Oh, and turn your refrigerator as cold as you can. It will help keep things cooler a little longer. Good luck to all.

  5. Wow, Ruth great tips! We have batteries, candles, charged up cells, water bottles, canned food and granola bars, plenty of dog food for the hound, moist towlettes, books, and the hubs is stopping on the way home to get ice to put in the freezer in case the power goes out, AND some wine for me :)

    One thing too to think about, with canned goods, make sure you have a manual can opener or that you bought cans with tabs. I did both.

    We've also stacked or put away all the outdoor furniture, bikes, etc...

    Stay safe my dear!

  6. Be safe and let us know how you fair. Thoughts are with you.

  7. Sorry about your vacation.
    I watch the weather too. My hubby works for Delta and so many flights are canceled.
    Great post. I'm a proponent of having twice of what you need. I have a few trust issues, okay.
    Seriously,being prepared is always a good idea.
    Take care.

  8. Great tips. We prepared for Y2K that never happened, but were glad we had when a blizzard came a day later and had us without power and housebound for four days. Now we keep our storm kit up to date. We are not in Irene's path, but getting some rain and wind this morning from the fringes.

  9. Thanks, Ruth. Didn't you just get back yourself? How amazing are you, preparing for the storm and still taking time to think of us? Oh that's right, you're a writer! We just multi-task everything :)

  10. Hi Everyone!

    Just a quick note to let you all know that we're back home safe and sound. Going to the grocer was an experience last night. The shelves were bare but we were able to get the necessities.

    Thank you for all your well wishes.

    ... Ruth