Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness Guide, Part 2, AOI looks decent

nce You Hear A Hurricane May Be Coming Your Way

  1. 1
    Keep in mind that some hurricanes are usually slow travelers. Once you hear about it, chances are you have several days to finalize your plans. Be careful, though; some hurricanes can go up to 80 km/h, especially near the Atlantic Provinces of Canada.
  2. 2
    Be sure you are well supplied with any prescription drugs that you or your family take on a regular basis. This can be a daunting task as some insurers will not honor refills until the last refill is nearly used up or has run out. If necessary, drugs must be purchased without insurance; weeks may go by without the ability to get refills, putting your health (or even your life) at risk.
  3. 3
    Put all of your valuables into clear plastic bags or high off the floor.
  4. 4
    Cook all raw meats in your refrigerator and freeze them. They will help keep the other food cold and you can take them out one at a time for meals that do not require cooking.
  5. 5
    Put all the ice that you have in your freezer into plastic bags. Fill all spaces in your freezer with bags of ice. Keep your refrigerator door closed as much as possible to minimize thawing. Freeze water bottles, too.
  6. 6
    Make sure that you have a BBQ and lots of charcoal or propane so that you can cook and heat foods for meals. Small propane bottles can also connect to lamps, heaters, and cooking appliances.
  7. 7
    Stay on top of the news. How often you watch the Weather Channel is up to you, but if you start to feel overwhelmed or panicky, turn it off. You can always turn the news back on when you feel better. Either that, or ask a trusted neighbor to let you know when a hurricane will likely head your way so you can be informed when news watching is absolutely vital. It may be a good idea to evacuate your area beforehand, since traffic will be a problem during a mandatory evacuation order.
  8. 8
    Decide whether or not you will evacuate. It's best to get out of town before it becomes mandatory, or even recommended. If you wait until the last minute, an hour will have passed before you get out of your driveway.
  9. 9
    Inform your family and friends about your decision. They will rest easier if they know what you plan to do and why.

editIn the Event You Decide to Evacuate

  1. 1
    Determine when and how you will evacuate. If you don't have a car, don't be too proud to ask others for help. If you do, leaving at an off-hour such as 2am is the best way to assure minimal traffic.
  2. 2
    Consult a map in accordance to the advice given on the news. For example, if you live in Florida or Louisiana and the hurricane is said to be heading northwest, you'll want to have a route that heads northeast or north whichever one is safer and shorter.
  3. 3
    Contact any friends or family that you may need to stay with during this time.
  4. 4
    Pack your car, not only with necessities such as food (which should be in your Hurricane Preparedness Kit) clothing and medicine, but photos and important papers such as birth certificates and shot records leaving, pack things that you would not want to be without both for your time away from home and in the event all is lost. A good rule of thumb is to plan about a week's worth of away time (don't forget the laundry soap, etc. just in case it's longer). Choose carefully. You presumably have a limited amount of space in your vehicle and space for humans is needed too. Make sure you have spare oil and consider taking an extra gas tank if you can safely carry one on or in your vehicle (gas stations on evacuation routes sometimes run out of gas).
  5. 5
    Protect your home and yard and then leave as far in advance of landfall as is possible and prudent. (For steps on protecting the home, see below).
  6. 6
    If you will be staying with friends, family, or in a hotel (don't count on it, have a back up plan even if you've made reservations ahead of time) withdraw sufficient cash for two weeks. ATMs and banks may not be operating in the aftermath of a major hurricane and some credit card machines will be down. If you expect to be displaced, a family of four needs approximately $500 to last a week if you'll be staying in hotels. You'll need less than that if you will be staying with friends, relatives or in a shelter.
  7. 7
    Make sure your cell phone and extra cell phone batteries (get them if you do not already have some) are charged before leaving or before the power can go out. You can charge them up with the power from your car if you have a DC to AC converter.
  8. 8
    Stay calm and collected, especially when you are around little kids who might easily get scared when their parents are stressed out. Around small children, make the hurricane preparation/evacuation into an unexpected vacation or adventure.
  9. 9
    Double-check for last minute details. Is the power, gas, and water turned off? Do you have everything you need? Is the first driver well-rested or would another couple of hours of rest do him or her a world of good? Did you bring all your pets along? Leaving at 4am instead of 2am if you need to will still keep you out of the main flow of traffic, so there's no need to rush since any driver needs to stay on top of things especially during an evacuation.

edit If You Decide to Stay

  1. 1
    Take all measures to protect your home and property. It is not only your stuff you are protecting but yourself and your family who have stayed behind. If you have removable hurricane shutters, try to put them up at least two days before landfall. Holding a 25-pound aluminum shutter while balancing on a ladder in 74 mph winds is no fun and can lead to bad things. If you are using plywood, get your wood and nails early.

    • There is a risk of less-than-ideal folks wandering around the neighborhood possibly looking for an empty home to rob. Lock all doors and windows, place heavy, opaque drapes in front of windows to prevent outside eyes from looking in, and if you have them and if you live in the US, load up on several rounds of ammunition for your rifles, shotguns, handguns, and pistols prior to the hurricane's arrival. Advertise that there are weapons in the vicinity. Don't try this in Canada though -- you'll get arrested.
  2. 2
    Move into your home or garage all pots, patio furniture, grills and anything else that can blow around. Do not sink any furniture into a swimming pool, this is an old-wives-tale and a very bad idea.
  3. 3
    Make a list of everything you will need if you are stranded and without power for two weeks. See "Things You'll Need" below.
  4. 4
    Designate a "safe room" in case your home's integrity is compromised. The "safe room" should have no windows or exterior doors and preferably only one interior door. Bring in a mattress to lean upright against the door and pre-stock it with a radio, batteries, flashlight and enough food, water and pre-moistened napkins to last 12 hours. Make sure all household members know that they are to run to this room once the wind starts rushing into the home. All pets, if you have them, must go here too during the hurricane. Keep any equipment your pet may need, i.e. water or cat litter, in this room too.
  5. 5
    Stay as far away from windows and doors from the moment of landfall. If the power has gone out, listen for wind and rain that will steadily increase as the hurricane nears.
  6. 6
    Extinguish all candles once the rain and winds reach thunderstorm levels. This is to assure they are not accidentally left lit when and if the winds start whipping through your home. A safe way to use candles is to put them in a saucepan, deeper than the candle is high, with shiny sides. The light will reflect off the ceiling and inside of the pot, and the candle will be protected from being knocked over. An inch or so of water in the pot isn't a bad idea, either. However, if you smell gas, hear gas, or even suspect a gas leak, do not use candles. Use light sticks.
  7. 7
    Keep a radio on as the hurricane approaches. Often, the major radio stations will have special coverage in the local programs if a hurricane is coming.

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edit Tips

  • Stay away from flying and sharp objects.
  • You should not think twice about leaving if: (a) you are under a mandatory evacuation order; (b) a Category 3–5 hurricane is likely and you are within 100 miles of shore; (c) you live in a manufactured home or camper and a hurricane of any strength is on its way to you; or (d) you cannot shutter or board-up your home.
  • Communication and teamwork is key. Stick together, work together and heed the instructions of safety officials.
  • You can pick up a car refrigerator for under $50. It runs off your car battery. Though not large, a car fridge can store at least a day's preparations and may of course be refilled as needed.
  • Bring car activities for kids (and adults).
  • Make sure that you have enough time to get out of the danger zone, taking into account current traffic conditions based on news reports. The last thing you want is to be trapped in your car while the storm is coming ashore. Get out early by the fastest route possible.
  • Not everyone has to do all of these steps or tips, if you are not directly or close to the eye of the storm. In this case, the most you can expect are heavy rains, and winds.
  • Do not use a toilet if there's no water in the tank to flush it. The waste left there will produce a smell that is most unpleasant in your home. Each flush takes over a gallon of water. You could line the bowl with a garbage bag and then remove the waste from the home.
  • A 5 gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag makes a good emergency toilet. But this method will use up a lot of garbage bags in a short amount of time; an alternative is to dig a hole in the yard and use it for an emergency toilet. You may also sprinkle cat litter in the 5 gallon bucket between uses. This will absorb liquid and allow multiple uses of a bag before removal to the outside of the house.
  • If you have an outhouse or a composting toilet , use it.

edit Warnings

  • Heed all directions of both the Red Cross and government officials.
  • Throughout the preparatory phase and the storm itself, do not let your love of adventure overwhelm your common sense.
  • Don't do what Torontonians did in 1954 when Hurricane Hazel came to town, which was disregarding the warnings. If there is a hurricane warning or watch issued for your area, believe it, no matter where you live.
  • Remember, hurricanes can strike anywhere from the Carribean to the Eastern coast of Canada.

edit Things You'll Need

  • Battery operated flashlights are fine if the power is out for a short time. The new LED flashlights work well, as long as a spotlight isn't needed. Target and other stores have good ones in the $10 range that drop into a pocket and run on AA and AAA cells. They're great for personal lights, and the batteries last five to ten times as long as with regular incandescent flashlights. Additionally, LED conversion bulbs are available on the Internet for more popular brands of flashlights.
  • After a couple of days you will need candles for light. Buy big decorative candles that will burn for days. Keep lanterns/candles in frequently used locations, such as the bathroom counter, next to the door, and on your bedroom nightstand. IF there are gas leaks, explosive chemicals in your area, do NOT use candles, if you do, watch them to prevent fire, especially if children are with you.
  • "Self Powered Lights" and "Self Powered Radios". This equipment is either solar powered, and/or has a "crank up" generator built into the light and the radio. Find the lights at the local Wal*Mart, the radios at the local Radio Shack and/or the Internet. This will save you money on batteries, IF you can find any, since they'll be sold out WEEKS before a storm hits you. Some of these models will also charge cell phones.
  • Glow sticks. Can be found in the Wal*Mart and sporting goods dealers. Safer than candles, in case there are gas leaks, explosive,flammable chemicals in your area.
  • Solar powered garden lights. You can charge them up in the sun by day and use them indoors for lighting at night.
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Canned goods and can opener, fruits and vegetables and other foods that do not require refrigeration.
  • Water (at least one gallon daily per person with a seven-day supply). You can also fill up bathtubs if you close or seal the drains.
  • Bleach. In the event that water enters your home, you will need to get it out and then kill any microbes that remain.
  • Take highly-valued items with you or, for those items staying in the home, wrap in plastic or place in plastic bags. Even if you are riding out the storm, consider placing photos, insurance papers and other important papers in sealed bags.
  • Corded phone. Even if your electricity is out, your telephone may still work. Cordless phones still require electricity, so plug in a corded phone, and you may be surprised.
  • Cell phone and extra charged batteries. Some of the "Self Powered Radios" and "Self Powered Flashlights" allow you to keep your cell phone charged. IF the cell phone towers are damaged, destroyed, cell phones will be no good.
  • A DC to AC inverter.
  • Pre-moistened towelettes.
  • Battery-powered fans will be very appreciated if the power is out.
  • Lots of batteries of all sizes (you can always use later what is not used during the storm). Consider buying a car battery to power battery operated devices in the home.
  • Make sure each person has their own flashlight and battery supply, in case you have to separate.
  • A good supply of all prescription drugs.
  • A first-aid kit.
  • Optional but helpful is one pair of wading pants for each member of the family, or at least the adults of the household. If you live in an area prone to flooding, you do not want to be walking around with your skin exposed to contaminated water if there is a need, after the storm, to walk from the home.
  • Plenty of large plastic garbage bags to dispose of human waste and other garbage.
  • Supply of Toilet Paper, and other toiletries as needed.
  • At least one 5-gallon bucket and cat litter (the bio-degradable kind) for toilet use.
  • A pocket knife for cutting things.
The AOI looks decent right now, but it is moving inland soon and is expected to dissipate in about 48 hours. Now is a good time to prepare, use this AOI as a test system to what will likely happen in August or September.  

Here are the types of effects expected:
Up to 5 inches of rain
Minor flodding
High waves

 Interests in the area should monitor this blog for additional info.

1 comment:

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