Hurricane Season is Here; Safety Tips

Having lived through many storms and quite a few Hurricanes in my lifetime as a Florida resident I’ve unfortunately had a lot of experience dealing with those nasty forces of nature…Hurricane Andrew was the worst and this week is the 15th anniversary of when those nasty big winds came through South Florida…a small storm by many standards it tore part of my roof off and destroyed three rooms on one side of my house, my kitchen included as well as the entire back yard fence and patio…It’s no wonder I get into a panic mode at this time of the year….I’ll never forget the sounds of the wind, like a train coming through our house…..We had no electricity for nearly 3 1/2 weeks and for some reason, our phone lines were down for over 2 months even though our neighbors had theirs within 2 weeks….The heat was just awful without air conditioning in mid August and though we had a generator to keep a fan running, and to watch a bit of TV as well as a few other odds and ends, it was really unbearable but we managed, we barbequed outside and set up a sort of kitchen area under the damaged patio roof..It was such a strange time, no street lights, or traffic signals and the men of the National guard on the street corners to prevent looters.

But a generator needs gasoline and it was hard to get that most sought after commodity even then, can you imagine what it would be like this year at over $3.00 a gal? 2 years ago when Hurricane Wilma came through here, just after Hurricane Katrina did her damage, and before hitting New Orleans, there were mobs at the few gas stations that even had any gas to sell.

So therefore we always try to be prepared and know what to expect, except for the unexpected.

I know the importance of having batteries on hand and start stockpiling them in early summer, usually buying them in the large packs at Costco, D-Batteries are the all important ones as they are needed for all the gadgets which make life a bit more bearable when the electricity goes out and believe me, it will!

We all know flash lights need batteries but what about all the new gizmos that are out on the market now, besides the essential radios most of us have… there are those mini TV sets which help keep you in touch with the rest of the world…then there are the small battery powered fans which proved to be a lifesaver for us after Wilma and Katrina during those miserable hot humid days after the storms passes and you have no air conditioner…Light at night is something you need so lanterns are a necessity especially now that we are told not to use candles since they can get knocked over by your pets or by the wind…And, this year, I added a new item to our arsenal, a battery operated personal DVD player, what a convenience that would be to wile away a few hours with a movie..even if the battery is only good for 2 hours…but one movie is good! And, if need be, that could be recharged with a generator

What other items do you need? Water, plenty of water, I start filling empty water bottles with my filtered sink water and fill the freezer with them as well as Ziploc bags with ice, not only will they keep your food cold in the freezer but will supply more drinking water for you when they melt…you also need to stock up on supplies for your babies, children and pets, you need at least 1-2 weeks supply…Certain foods are essential, peanut butter, bread, and all sorts of canned foods…. for those canned items you will need a hand operated can opener…stock up on and any other foods or drinks which don’t require refrigeration. Matches are important and always make sure your gas can for the barbeque is filled or have a spare.

Suggested items: Canned chili, tuna fish, sardines, salmon,vegetables, containers of non-refrigerated milk, crackers, individual containers of apple sauce and other fruits…These go fast so it’s good to get them before a storm threatens….I always buy a bag of small donuts, for my comfort food…

Make sure you have cash on hand because when the electricity is off, the ATM’s won’t work at your bank and hurricane preparations and supplies can cost quite a lot…

Thankfully we have most of what we need now… tarps, shutters and that extra propane tank for the barbeque…One thing I learned from Hurricane Andrewlarge plastic water tight container on hand and I always put our important papers, photo albums and precious videos inside then I tape it shut…this year, if need be, I will also add my new laptop..just in case…you never know if water will get into your house and if damage will occur…I remember, after Hurricane Andrew, watching a video of a woman on TV weeks after the storm passed…she lost her house when a small tornado hit it and all her property was destroyed or damaged…except the items she had put into a big sealed new plastic garbage can…. It was found floating down the block from where her house had once been…That definitely taught me a lesson!

Other most important items are the gas cans to hold that most sought after commodity, should you have a generator, and even if you don’t you will still need gas for your cars… After Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma passed though South Florida the people were practically rioting at the gas stations when they ran out or couldn’t pump gas without electricity…the stations are supposed to have put in generators but some owners haven’t complied yet..

Another item you wil definitely need is an ice chest or cooler to hold all your perishables if you don’t have refrigeration….but remember you will need ice and water, I can’t stress that highly enough….the lines for water and ice after a storm passes can be intolerable leading to some very nasty confrontations with others waiting in the long lines once help arrives….and that can take quite a while if history repeats itself….hopefully that won’t happen again as it has in the past.

Also know where your emergency shelters are and how to get there if you are in a flood or evacuation zone and don’t forget your pets…Many shelters won’t take any animals though a few are now changing that rule…You must know what you plan to do with those precious animals that depend on you for their safety…speaking of which, always have enough food and water on hand for them too,. for at least 2 weeks and whatever other supplies you might need including medicines

You also must have your own medicines so have whatever prescriptions you may need refilled. Remember the drug stores can lose their power too!

Take pictures of your house both inside and out in case you need them for the insurance companies, should the worst happen.

And don’t forget to have back ups for your computers hard drive, just in case.

Charge up your cell phones and, if you really want to be connected to the world, get a land-line phone…they don’t rely on electricity when the power goes out as do the fancier cordless phones most of us have today…and the cell towers can be damaged rendering your cell phones useless.

Bring in all your plants and patio furniture, anything that can become a projectile item that can cause damage to your home or property or anyone elses for that matter.

I know it sounds like a lot to be prepared but though it can be a pain in the you know what, it will prevent you from having to stand in those huge lines at the grocery stores, Home Depot and gas stations which will occur when that first sight of a storm brewing out at sea is announced… The predictions are a bit grim this year and the worst of Hurricane season starts this week….I already have most of my supplies but still need a few things so that’s enough for me to go shopping and restock up once again…I hope all who live in a coastal area, do the same…stay safe and good luck to us all!

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